United States v. Grimes, No. 12-4523 (3d Cir. 2014)Annotate this Case
Grimes, a former professor of engineering at Pennsylvania State University and the owner of three research companies, pled guilty to wire fraud, 18 U.S.C. 1343; false statements, 18 U.S.C. 1001; and money laundering, 18 U.S.C. 1957, based on his fraudulent conduct involving federal science grants. The plea agreement in indicated that his advisory sentencing range under the USSG would be 41 to 51 months and contained a waiver of Grimes’s direct and collateral appeal rights. Grimes and his attorney signed acknowledgements that they had read the agreement and that the plea was voluntary. During his plea colloquy, Grimes discussed the agreement with the judge and acknowledged that no one could guarantee how the court would sentence him. The district court sentenced Grimes to 41 months’ imprisonment, at the bottom of the Guidelines range of 41 to 51 months. The Third Circuit rejected Grimes’s argument that his appellate waiver was not knowing and voluntary because it contained a waiver of his right to collaterally challenge his guilty plea, conviction, or sentence that did not exempt Sixth Amendment ineffective assistance of counsel claims. Grimes claimed that he could not have knowingly and voluntarily agreed to waive his appellate rights because his trial counsel faced an inherent, actual conflict of interest in negotiating and advising him on the waiver.