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Martorano plead guilty to all 19 counts of his indictment of drug possession and distribution under the advice of his attorney Robert Simone. Simone told him by pleading guilty, he would obtain a six year sentence, though Matorano was advised by the prosecution and the judge that pleading guilty could mean receiving a life sentence. Prior to the date set for George Martorano's sentencing, Simone was indicted on tax evasion charges. The Honorable John Berne Hannum, who was the sitting judge in George's case, testified as a character witness for Simone prior to Martorano's sentencing. An article appeared in the Philadelphia Daily News criticizing the Judge and called his testimony "highly unusual."
On September 20, 1984, Martorano was sentenced to the longest prison term of any first-time non-violent offender to plead guilty: life in prison without the possibility of parole. The prosecution had only recommended 40 to 54 months. Martorano appealed this sentencing in 1987 and appeared again before Judge Hannum, receiving the same sentence. Subsequently, Martorano has filed over 33 appeals and all the new presiding judges upheld the sentence.
In prison, Martorano has distinguished himself in various ways. He is considered one of the most prolific writer in the Federal System and has written over 31 books, as well as countless short stories, screenplays and poems. He has developed a creative writing course called "The Write to Life" which has helped dozens of inmates earn GEDs and develop creative writing skills. He is a certified suicide watch counselor and uses himself as an example, saying, "If I have hope facing what I am facing every day so can you." He is also one of the first if not the first Federal Inmate to exercise his First Amendment Rights by publishing his work on his blog(www.freegeorge.us) and his website(www.webelievegroup.com)