Help Free An Innocent Man

On Facebook:

Haven't you read those stories in the paper about the innocent person who is cleared by science when his case is reinvestigated years later?

You ever wonder how that type of thing could happen?

Did you ever imagine what it would be like to be part of it?

Freeing an innocent person from jail, you would do that if you could, right?

Did you ever wonder what it would be like to help?

This is the true life case of an innocent man serving a life sentence without the possibility for parole for a crime that never happened

Imagine being locked up for over 35 years and 3 months.

Imagine being accused of killing your own son in an arson fire.

Imagine knowing you didn’t do it.

Imagine being convicted.

Imagine being innocent.

Imagine every memory that you have had for the last 35 years and 3 months being erased and replaced with memories of prison.

Now imagine that the only thing standing between you and your rightful freedom is money. Money that you need for your experts to prove your factual and actual innocence.

Imagine what it would be like qualify for indigent funds that the county has. Imagine your lawyers filing for it over
4 months ago.

And imagine the President Judge refusing to act and perform his sworn duty.

Luckily, we can only imagine it. James Hugney, Sr. is living it.

From the very beginning, James E. Hugney, Sr. has maintained his innocence. He told the investigators in 1978 that he had nothing to do with it. He declared it at trial in 1979. In July 1979, he declared again at the time of his sentencing of Life Without the Possibility of Parole (LWOP). He pursued an appeal where he asserted legal error and factual innocence. He said so again during his post-conviction proceedings in 1[phone redacted] when under oath key witnesses in the original trial said the jailhouse snitch lied. He most recently did so proudly in 2013 as an old man in a wheelchair in deteriorating health before the Honorable Scott A. Evans seeking to have the science reviewed in his case.

Now at nearly 72 years old. James Hugney, Sr. asks you for help. A donation of any amount goes strictly to paying for his experts, not to his lawyers. His lawyers are working for free.

You can make a difference.
Even if you cannot donate, please visit the website and share the story on social media.

On Facebook:


Where does all of the donation money go?
This project is funded through GoFundMe. The site uses secure payment methods such as WePay and PayPal. Money donated through has the following fees

5% of the donation goes to GoFundMe for administering and publicizing the cause
Each donation has a 2.9% + $0.30 per transaction fee.
So in total fees, there is 7.9% + $0.30 per transaction.

All of the rest of the donated money is distributed as described below.
Or if you prefer to donate in a way that 100% of the money goes to FreeHugney, you may donate through The McShane Firm, LLC in two ways:

Call 1-866-MCSHANE or [phone redacted] and tell anyone who answers the phone that you would like to make a donation to FreeHugney. You can use a check, credit card or debit card.
Go click here ( to get to a secure pay site. In the area that reads “What account is this payment for?,” please write “FreeHugney.”

Who controls the donation money?
All of the net donation money is in control of The McShane Firm, LLC and will be deposited into The McShane Firm, LLC IOLTA account. An Interest On Lawyers Trust Account (IOLTA) is a trust account held in an FDIC approved bank. It is guaranteed through the FDIC as well as insured by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court IOLTA Fund Board against any improper lawyer use of funds held in it.

What will my donation be used for?
The expert witness fees for review and retesting, if possible. The experts will need to go through the thousands of pages of the case file, do research, write reports, perhaps re-examine evidence, and also fly to Harrisburg for several hearings. This is a lot of work. It is also expensive. Importantly, the more experts that are retained and come to the same independent conclusion, the harder it is for the Office of the District Attorney and any appellate courts to find other than the scientific truth: there is no arson. Any additional money that is raised above and beyond what is needed will be reserved for appeals and other court-related costs. Again, no money goes to his volunteer legal team. Any excess money beyond that will be donated to The Pennsylvania Innocence Project.

 GoFundMe Guarantee

Only donations on our platform are protected by the GoFundMe Guarantee.


 See top
  • Anonymous 
    • $100 
    • 72 mos
  • Missouri Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers 
    • $1,000 (Offline)
    • 80 mos
  • Addair Thurston Chtd 
    • $500 (Offline)
    • 80 mos
  • Brian Manchester 
    • $500 (Offline)
    • 81 mos
  • Debbie Belknap 
    • $25 
    • 82 mos
See all


Justin J. McShane 
Harrisburg, PA
  • #1 fundraising platform

    More people start fundraisers on GoFundMe than on any other platform. Learn more

  • GoFundMe Guarantee

    In the rare case something isn’t right, we will work with you to determine if misuse occurred. Learn more

  • Expert advice, 24/7

    Contact us with your questions and we’ll answer, day or night. Learn more