Philadelphia Man Pleads Guilty To Forging Federal Judge’s Signature To Escape From Prison
The United States Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Pennsylvania announced that Kevin William Small, age 50, pleaded guilty today in Harrisburg before United States District Court Judge Gene E.K. Pratter to mail fraud, escape, forging judicial signatures, use of a counterfeit seal and possession of a counterfeit seal. A sentencing date has not been scheduled.
According to United States Attorney Peter J. Smith, in 2007, Small was convicted of four counts of filing false tax claims following a week-long trial before District Court Judge Christopher C. Conner. Evidence presented during the trial showed that Small was a long-term state prisoner who for at least four years had filed for an income tax refund claiming that he was due a substantial tax refund. Trial evidence from 2007 also established that Small created documents to substantiate his fictitious employment and opened fraudulent bank accounts to receive the tax refunds.
Judge Conner sentenced Small to serve 135 months in federal prison and directed that he begin serving this sentence after he finished serving his state sentence at Huntingdon State Prison. Small’s conviction and sentence were affirmed by appellate courts following two rounds of appeals.
Small’s state sentence expired on January 5, 2012 and he was scheduled to be turned over to federal prison authorities on that day. However, state prison officials had received a document that purported to be signed and sealed by Judge Conner and the Clerk of Courts for the Middle District of Pennsylvania that stated that Small’s federal conviction had been vacated. As a result, Small was released on that day rather than being turned over to federal prison authorities to begin serving his federal sentence.
The escape was discovered when a federal agent called the state prison on another matter on March 8, inquired about Small, and learned that Small had been released to the street on January 5, 2012.
Small was located by the U.S. Marshals Service and arrested in a residence in Philadelphia on March 5, 2012. Many documents that appeared to be forged or fraudulent were seized from the residence at the time of his arrest, including partially-prepared court documents that purportedly freed other state prisoners.
Small was indicted on the most recent charges in March 2012. A superseding indictment was returned in December 2012. Judge Pratter, a federal Judge in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, was assigned to the case because the defendant’s conduct involved forgery of the signature of a federal Judge in the Middle District of Pennsylvania.
This case was investigated by the United States Marshals Service, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigations and is assigned to Assistant U.S. Attorney Christy H. Fawcett.
A sentence following a finding of guilty is imposed by the Judge after consideration of the applicable federal sentencing statutes and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines.
In this particular case, the maximum penalty under the federal statute is 40 years’ imprisonment, a term of supervised release following imprisonment, and a fine. Under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, the Judge is also required to consider and weigh a number of factors, including the nature, circumstances and seriousness of the offense; the history and characteristics of the defendant; and the need to punish the defendant, protect the public and provide for the defendant’s educational, vocational and medical needs. For these reasons, the statutory maximum penalty for the offense is not an accurate indicator of the potential sentence for a specific defendant.