Former Medford deputy asks judge to set him free

A reserve captain who was convicted of collecting protection money from illegal video-poker operators for imprisoned former Buncombe County Sheriff Bobby Medford is asking a federal judge to set aside his five-year prison sentence, saying he didn't receive proper legal representation.

In papers filed from the minimum security prison in Kentucky where he currently resides, former reserve Capt. Guy Kenneth Penland asserts that his attorney, Paul Bidwell, refused to appeal his sentence unless he received more money.

"Petitioner requested his then attorney to file an appeal," Penland wrote. "Said attorney demanded more money to do so. When petitioner informed the attorney that he had no more money and requested the attorney to file the notice of appeal, the attorney failed to do so."

That caused Penland to lose his right to an appeal, he notes. He also asserts that Bidwell failed to allow him to read his pre-sentencing report, as required by law. Because of these supposed oversights, which Penland maintains denied him his constitutional right to counsel, he's asking the court to set aside his prison sentence.

However, a brief filed by U.S. Attorney Edward Ryan asks that Penland's motion be denied, noting that, in his October 2008 sentencing hearing, Penland affirmed that he'd reviewed the report and that "he was satisfied with the advice and counsel that he had received from his attorney."

The federal brief also references an affidavit signed by Bidwell, maintaining that, after consulting with Bidwell and an attorney who had more experience in handling federal cases, Penland decided he "would not appeal his conviction and sentence because of the expense of appeal and the uncertainty of a successful outcome."
Penland picked up bribes from illegal video-poker operators, primarily Henderson Amusement, and also scouted locations for them while wearing a law-enforcement uniform. He was the only one of Medford's lieutenants accused in the federal government's case who did not plead guilty.

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