The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

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February 21, 2013

What's in a name? Wrong word on verdict voids prison sentence

HOLLIDAYSBURG — A man serving a 31- to 82-year prison term must be must be resentenced because his verdict slip wrongly said he had supplied cocaine, not heroin, to a convicted central Pennsylvania drug dealer.

The Altoona Mirror reports Thursday that 36-year-old Michael Serrano, of Philadelphia, must be resentenced within 90 days because of the Superior Court ruling that vacated the sentence imposed by a Blair County judge last year.

County prosecutors argued the verdict slip error was nothing more than a harmless typographical error, and that the charge on the verdict slip should have reflected that Serrano was accused – and then convicted – of supplying heroin.

But the Superior Court found the mistake resulted in Serrano’s conviction for a crime he didn’t commit, namely, supplying cocaine.

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