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[U] Commonwealth v. Stronach

Superior Court of Pennsylvania

February 24, 2014



Appeal from the Judgment of Sentence February 12, 2013 in the Court of Common Pleas of Bucks County Criminal Division at No(s): CP-09-CR-0001557-2012, CP-09-CR-0006817-2012.




Jeffrey Stronach (Appellant) appeals from the judgment of sentence entered February 12, 2013, after he pled guilty to a variety of offenses. We affirm.

The trial court summarized the relevant facts and procedural history as follows.

On [August 8, 2012, Appellant] entered the Citizen's Bank branch located at 227 North West End Boulevard in Richland Township, Bucks County, Pennsylvania. [Appellant] approached bank teller manager Cheryl Clymer at her work station and handed her a note that said "No fucking around, no sound, just money in the drawer. Have gun." Ms. Clymer complied with [Appellant's] demand and placed the contents of her cash drawer, $919.00 in mixed denominations, in an envelope with a dye pack and gave the envelope to him. After [Appellant] left the bank with the envelope Ms. Clymer locked the doors and alerted police. [Appellant] was apprehended by the Richland Township Police Department a few days later....
The instant offense was committed while [Appellant] was on bail and awaiting sentencing on Bucks County criminal information 1557 of 2012 on which he had previously entered a negotiated guilty plea on May 11, 2012 to Possession of a Controlled Substance (heroin), Possession of Drug Paraphernalia, and Tampering with Physical Evidence.
On October 24, 2012, [Appellant] was charged on Bucks County criminal information 6817 of 2012 with Robbery, Terroristic Threats, Theft by Unlawful Taking, Receiving Stolen Property, and Simple Assault. On November 26, 2012, [Appellant] entered into an open guilty plea to all charges on criminal information 6817 of 2012. Sentencing was deferred at that time so [Appellant] could undergo a mental health evaluation.
On February 12, 2013, [the trial court] held a sentencing hearing for both of the aforementioned criminal informations after the completion of [Appellant's] mental health evaluation. At the hearing [Appellant] presented mitigating evidence, including his difficult family life, mental health and drug addiction issues, and educational background. [Appellant] was also supported at the hearing by several family members.
On criminal information 1557 of 2012, pursuant to a negotiated guilty plea, [Appellant] was sentenced to not less than eleven and a half (11 ½) nor more than twenty-three (23) months' incarceration on Possession of a Controlled Substance (heroin) to be served concurrently with the sentence imposed on criminal information 6817 of 2012. The charge of Tampering with Physical Evidence was noll[e] prossed by the Commonwealth and no further penalty was imposed on the remaining charge.
On criminal information 6817 of 2012, on the charge of Robbery, [Appellant] was sentenced to not less than six (6) nor more than twelve (12) years' incarceration and four (4) years' probation to be served consecutively. No further penalty was imposed on the remaining charges.

Trial Court Opinion, 5/31/2013, at 1-4 (citations to the record omitted).

Appellant timely filed a motion for reconsideration of sentence, which was denied on February 28, 2013. Appellant then timely filed a notice of appeal. The trial court ordered Appellant to file a concise statement of errors complained of on appeal, and Appellant timely complied.

Appellant now raises the following issue on appeal. "Did the trial court abuse its discretion in failing to properly consider mitigating evidence in sentencing Appellant?" Appellant's Brief at 4 (capitalization omitted).

Appellant challenges the discretionary aspects of his sentence.[1] Before we may reach the merits of a challenge to the discretionary aspects of sentencing, we must be satisfied that: (1) the appeal is timely; (2) the appellant has preserved his issues; and (3) the appellant has included in his brief a Pa.R.A.P. 2119(f) concise statement of the reasons relied upon for allowance of appeal with respect to the discretionary aspects of sentence. Commonwealth v. Corley, 31 A.3d 293, 295-96 (Pa.Super. 2011). Furthermore, the concise statement must raise a substantial question that the sentence is inappropriate under the sentencing code. Id. at 296.

Instantly, the record indicates that this appeal was timely filed and that Appellant preserved his claim in his motion for reconsideration of sentence. Appellant has also included a Rule 2119(f) statement in his brief. Appellant's Brief at 8. However, Appellant's statement is woefully inadequate, and we conclude that he has not presented a substantial question for our review.

In his statement, Appellant argues that he has raised a substantial question because "the [trial] court did not comply with the sentencing code, and committed an abuse of discretion in sentencing [A]ppellant." Id. However, Appellant provides no explanation in his statement as to what the trial court allegedly did that violated the sentencing code, or how the trial court abused its discretion. To the extent that Appellant contends that the trial court abused its discretion by failing to consider properly the mitigating evidence presented at his sentencing hearing, "[t]his Court has held on numerous occasions that a claim of inadequate consideration of mitigating factors does not raise a substantial question for our review." Commonwealth v. Disalvo, 70 A.3d 900, 903 (Pa.Super. 2013). We see no reason to deviate from this precedent. Appellant concedes that he was sentenced in the standard range of the sentencing guidelines. Appellant's Brief at 7-8. While Appellant argues that he should have received a sentence in the mitigated range, id. at 9, he points to nothing that shows this Court that his sentence is inconsistent with the sentencing code or the norms underlying the sentencing process.

Accordingly, we hold that Appellant has failed to raise a substantial question, and we affirm his judgment of sentence.

Judgment of sentence affirmed.

Judgment Entered.

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