U.S. Attorney's Office
Western District of Pennsylvania
January 15, 2015

State Inmate Sentenced on Conviction of Forging a Federal Judge’s Signature

PITTSBURGH—An inmate at SCI-Houtzdale, located in Houtzdale, Pennsylvania, pleaded guilty and was sentenced in federal court in Pittsburgh on a charge of forging a judge’s signature, United States Attorney David J. Hickton announced today.

Michael J. Kramer, 31, formerly of New Kensington, Pa., and currently serving a sentence for a state parole violation at SCI Houtzdale, pleaded guilty and was sentenced to six months’ incarceration, followed by three years of supervised release, on one count before United States District Judge Arthur J. Schwab.

According to information provided to the Court, on April 4, 2014, a Records Specialist at SCI Houtzdale contacted the United States Marshals’ Office with concerns that the institution may have received a falsified “Order of Court” in which it was written that “Michael J. Kramer’s guilty plea be and as the same is VACATED.” The document was present in Kramer’s transport file. Kramer had recently been returned to Houtzdale from SCI Pittsburgh, and this folder would have returned to Houtzdale with him.

At the time, Kramer was in state custody serving a parole violation and was due to be released from state custody in August 2014. A federal detainer followed him, however, because he also had pleaded guilty and was awaiting sentencing in federal court in Pittsburgh on charges of armed bank robbery, possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, and using a firearm in relation to a crime of violence. The Records Specialist at Houtzdale believed the Court Order purportedly vacating Kramer’s conviction was a fraudulent document because she did not observe a court seal, the order contained two different fonts, the order did not contain an original signature, and the order was folded six ways, as though someone had placed it in his pocket.

The Marshals reviewed Kramer’s bank robbery court docket online and confirmed that no such order was actually filed dismissing his conviction. The Marshals also traveled to Houtzdale to interview Kramer, and Kramer confessed to the Marshals that he created this fake Court Order in the law library at the prison.

Last month, Kramer was sentenced by the Honorable David S. Cercone to 20 years (240 months) in prison, followed by five years of supervised release, on his armed bank robbery and firearms conviction. Judge Schwab ordered that the six-month sentence for the forgery conviction should run concurrently with the robbery and firearms conviction.

Assistant United States Attorneys Barbara K. Doolittle, Troy Rivetti, and Conor Lamb prosecuted this case on behalf of the government.

U.S. Attorney Hickton commended the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Borough of Coraopolis Police Department, and the United States Marshals’ Service for the investigation leading to the successful prosecution of Michael J. Kramer.

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