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Judge decreases maximum sentence

Bellon’s minimum jail time remains the same

Federal authorities were notified this week that Senior Judge Hiram A. Carpenter of Blair County has complied with an order by a U.S. District Judge in Johnstown to resentence a convicted drug dealer.

Charles A. Bellon, 40, of Altoona, now is sentenced to 31 to 46 years in state prison. That keeps his minimum sentence the same, but reduces the maximum by 16 years.

Pennsylvania Deputy Attorney General Christopher J. Schmidt sent a letter to U.S. District Judge Kim R. Gibson stating that Bellon has been resentenced in compliance with Gibson’s November order giving Blair County 120 days to resentence Bellon.

Bellon was arrested in Blair County in 2002 and charged as the leader of the an organization that distributed cocaine in Blair and surrounding counties.

He was eventually convicted by a jury in 2006 after withdrawing his guilty pleas to multiple offenses that included possession with intent to distribute cocaine and participation in a corrupt organization.

Carpenter sentenced Bellon to 31 to 62 years in a state correctional facility.

Since his sentencing, Bellon has launched several challenges to his conviction and sentence.

In November, Gibson, based on recommendations by Federal Magistrate Judge Keith Pesto, dismissed Bellon’s challenges concerning his trial, but ordered a resentencing because Blair County had imposed several sentences of seven to 14 years on Bellon concerning the PWID charges. The 14-year maximum is beyond the statutory limit of 10 years for such a charge.

In an order issued Jan. 10, Carpenter reduced the maximum sentence on each of the PWID charges to 10 years but maintained the seven-year minimum sentence for each charge.

The means that Bellon’s new sentence is 31 to 46 years.

He is serving his sentence at the State Correctional Institution at Benner Township, Centre County.

The federal court order stated that the Blair County judge was not constrained from making other changes in Bellon’s sentence, such as also reducing the minimum sentences for each PWID charge.

Carpenter stated in his order, “While we concede, we are not constrained from making changes, we find ourselves disinclined to do so beyond the defendant receiving the benefit of the reduced maximum.”

The federal remand was limited in terms of its directive, Carpenter pointed out, and he explained, “We have been directly involved in every step of these proceedings at the trial, the post-trial proceedings through sentencing and all (post-trial) matters.”

Meanwhile Bellon, through his Philadelphia attorney, Todd M. Mosser, has appealed the District Court’s ruling denying his request for a new trial to the U.S. 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals.

Bellon is also challenging his lengthy sentence in the Pennsylvania Superior Court, contending his mandatory seven-year minimum sentences on the PWID charges violated his constitutional rights, according to a 2013 U.S. Supreme Court decision, Alleyne v. the United States, that found Pennsylvania’s mandatory sentencing rules inappropriate.

In his opinion, Carpenter addressed Bellon’s Alleyne argument, stating the decision does not apply retroactively.

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