United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania
SANTO FANDO WADLINGTON, Petitioner, Pro se, BRADFORD, PA.
For MR. DAVID ORTIZ, WARDEN, THE ATTORNEY GENERAL OF THE STATE OF PENNSYLVANIA, THE DISTRICT ATTORNEY OF PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA, Respondents: SUSAN ELIZABETH AFFRONTI, PHILA DISTRICT ATTYS OFFICE THREE SOUTH PENN SQUARE, PHILADELPHIA, PA.
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
M. FAITH ANGELL, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
Presently before this Court is a pro se Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus filed, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2254, by prisoner challenging a state conviction. Petitioner, Santo Fando Wadlington, is currently in federal custody at Federal Correctional Institution [" FCI" ] McKean in Bradford, Pennsylvania. The conviction that Mr. Wadlington is challenging is a 1998 guilty plea to three counts of robbery and related crimes for which he was sentenced to a total of six to twenty years imprisonment. For the reasons which follow, it is recommended that Mr. Wadlington's habeas claims be denied and dismissed as time-barred.
On February 10, 1998, Santo Wadlington pled guilty, before the Honorable Jane Cutler Greenspan of the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas, to three (3) counts of robbery as a felony of the first degree, conspiracy and possessing an instrument of crime [" PIC" ]. He was sentenced, on that date, to six to twenty years on each of the robberies; no additional sentence was imposed on the conspiracy and PIC convictions. Commonwealth's Response to Habeas Petition : Exhibit " C" (October 22, 2004 PCRA Court Opinion) [Document 12-3], at 2. Mr. Wadlington did not file a direct appeal from his sentence.
The factual basis for the entry of a guilty plea was summarized by the Commonwealth as follows:
[T]his incident occurred on August 17th, 1996, and the three complainants in this matter are Jamal Curtis, Dante Hatchett (sic), and Shawn Reynolds. These three young men were walking together to a friend's house at approximately 2:00 a.m., when they were approached by this Defendant [Mr. Wadlington], and a Co-defendant, and grabbed.
This Defendant grabbed the first victim, Jamal Curtis, and started going through his pockets. The Co-defendant brandished a 9 millimeter handgun, and ordered the three victims to lay on the ground. All three victims were put to the ground; their pockets were gone through, and the following items were taken: From Jamal Curtis, a chain and bracelet; from Shawn Reynolds, money, and from Dante Hatchett, his pager.
After they were robbed of their personal items, the Defendants ran away.
The Complainant, Dante Hatchett, knew both of the Defendants from the neighborhood. He knew one as Stretch, the one with the gun, and the other as Santo, this Defendant here.
As a result of the investigation by the police, an arrest warrant was issued for this Defendant, after identification through a photographic display. In addition, [ . . . ] I would like to add that the one victim, Jamal Curtis, was subjected to a lineup, and did positively identify this Defendant as being one of the males involved in the gunpoint robbery.
State Court Record: Guilty Plea Transcript, N.T. 2/10/98, at 6-7.
On January 2, 2004, Mr. Wadlington filed pro se petition for relief under the Pennsylvania Post Conviction Relief Act [" PCRA" ]. Mr. Wadlington alleged that his guilty plea was unlawfully induced, and that trial counsel was ineffective in inducing Petitioner to plead guilty based on a promise that Petitioner would be paroled upon serving the minimum sentence of six years, which counsel knew or should have known was " illegal and untrue." Mr. Wadlington argued that he was not time-barred from raising these issues because an " illegal sentence in not waivable." Commonwealth's Response to Habeas Petition: Exhibit " A" [Document 12-1], at 3.
Counsel was appointed; she filed a no-merit Finley letter on September 10, 2004. It was Counsel's professional opinion that Mr. Wadlington's PCRA petition was untimely and that the issues raised were without arguable merit. Id.: Exhibit " B " (September 10, 2004 ...