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McFadden v. City of Philadelphia

United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania

May 25, 2018

TALLI MCFADDEN, Plaintiff,
v.
CITY OF PHILADELPHIA, et al., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM

          SANCHEZ, J.

         Plaintiff Talli McFadden, who is currently incarcerated at the Federal Detention Center in Philadelphia while awaiting sentencing in Criminal Action No. 15-376, [1] has filed this civil action against the City of Philadelphia, Manuel Santiago, Frank Jastrzembski, Michael Duffey, Thomas Burke, Martin Devlin, Dennis Dusak, Charles Myers, Anthony Tomaino, James Morton, Eugene Wyatt, the United States of America, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Christopher L. Boyer, Sandra Luehrs-Shaw, Joseph LaBar, "John Does 1 Through 25, " the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Governor Tom Wolf, and "Jane Poes 1 Through 25." By Order entered on April 4, 2018, the Court denied McFadden's Motion for Leave to Proceed In Forma Pauperis because he had sufficient funds in his prisoner account to pay the $350.00 filing fee and $50.00 administrative fee, and directed McFadden to remit $400.00 to the Clerk of Court within thirty (30) days. (ECF No. 3.) After receiving an extension of time, McFadden submitted the full filing fee, which the Court received on May 21, 2018. For the reasons set forth below, the Court will dismiss McFadden's Complaint.

         I. FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY

         McFadden was arrested by officers of the Philadelphia Police Department on May 27, 1994, for "events that took place on April 19, 1994, when firearms were discharged by various persons in the direction of an automobile that was travelling in the Germantown section of Philadelphia; and one of the passengers in the vehicle, in the back seat, was struck by a bullet and tragically died." (Compl. at 13.)[2] According to McFadden, he "was charged with various violations of the Pennsylvania Crimes Code (1994), including murder, possession of a firearm, aggravated assault, simple assault, reckless endangerment, carrying a firearm in public, and conspiracy." (Id.)

         McFadden contends that the prosecution's evidence was inadequate to connect him to "an intentional act of violence having an intended or natural consequence of death." (Id. at 15.) Despite that, he asserts that his attorney "negotiated a plea agreement that required [him] to plead guilty to 'voluntary manslaughter.'" (Id.) Public dockets reflect that on July 17, 1996, McFadden pled guilty to voluntary manslaughter and was sentenced to a minimum of 48 months and a maximum of 10 years of incarceration. Commonwealth v. McFadden, Docket No. CP-51-CR-0700241-1994 (Phila. Ct. Common Pleas). All other charges were nolle prossed. Id. McFadden now claims that "no document prepared ... in the case . . . contains any reference to section 2503, or the applicable subsection of 2503, in the Crimes Code of 1994; and at no time were the elements of the statutory crime or common law crime read to [him] by the Common Pleas judge or the District Attorney."[3] (Compl. at 15.) He also contends that "Judge Glazer did not sentence [him] to the statutory crime of voluntary manslaughter, 18 P.S. sec. 2503, or any subsection of that statute ... at the time of sentencing ...; and [he] was not sentenced to a category 1 felony, and he was not sentenced to a minimum term of five years." (Id. at 17.) McFadden also argues that his plea agreement form "was constitutionally deficient in that it did not specify the elements of the offense charged, and it did not contain any reference to either the 1994 or 1995 versions of any statutory crime." (Id.)

         After sentencing, "the Pennsylvania State Police and its agents . . . began the task of entering into the NCIC Criminal History database the history of McFadden's proceedings in Philadelphia." (Id. at 18.) When they discovered that "McFadden had not been charged with a statutory [c]rime, and that his conviction, in fact, was constitutionally defective, those State Police and agents intentionally fabricated and added to the official records in order to hide the errors ... to [ensure] that McFadden was illegally imprisoned in violation of law." (Id.) According to McFadden, the State Police "entered '2503' into the criminal history report without any court order or other required due process of law" and indicated that he had been sentenced to a minimum of five (5) years. (Id. at 19-20.) He also contends that they "compounded their fraudulent entries and their illegal conspiracy to harm plaintiff McFadden by disseminating their false information for over 24 years, to the other defendants." (Id. at 20.)

         McFadden contends that he was "illegally damaged and falsely imprisoned by the Commonwealth and other Jane Poe defendants" when they used the false information to deny him parole after four (4) years and "forced him to serve five years in state correctional institutions before parole." (Id. at 21.) He also alleges that "[t]he United States and its agents, including the John Doe defendants, presented the false information to this Court [in Criminal Action No. 00-107] and caused the Court to sentence McFadden to an additional term of five years; and such sentence was illegal and unconstitutional." (Id.) McFadden further argues that the false information has been included in a Presentence Investigation Report that was prepared by United States Probation Officer for Criminal Action No. 15-376 "in an attempt to falsely and corruptly influence this Honorable Court to enhance the sentence yet to be imposed on McFadden in that case." (Id. at 22.) He believes that Governor Wolf "has the authority ... to command that the executive and law enforcement records of Pennsylvania be purged of the illegal and inaccurate information, " and asserts that he has no remedy under state law or the habeas corpus statutes, 28 U.S.C. §§ 2241 & 2255, to "purge the conviction or sentence" because he is no longer in custody for his prior convictions. (Id. at 22-23.)

         McFadden goes on to argue that he was "framed" by the Philadelphia Police Department Defendants because he "did not shoot" the victim of the voluntary manslaughter. (Id. at 24.) He contends that Officers Santiago and Jastrzembski used "false statements" to charge him, and that the "Philadelphia District Attorney endorsed the false statements." (Id. at 25.) McFadden asserts that Joseph LaBar, the Assistant District Attorney who prosecuted him, "withheld evidence, and suborned acts designed to prevent the disclosure of evidence that would have eroded any reason for McFadden to be held [and] subjected to possible trial." (Id. at 28.) He believes that "[f]or many years dating back to at least the 1970s, and continuing well beyond the time of the investigation of McFadden, the City of Philadelphia, had in force and effect a policy, practice, or custom of unconstitutional misconduct in homicide investigations, and in particular . . . withholding exculpatory evidence, and fabricating incriminating statements." (Id. at 34.)

         With respect to his federal convictions, McFadden states that he was paroled from state custody in 1999 but was placed in a halfway house because he "had been falsely convicted of an offense involving violence." (Id. at 30.) While in the halfway house, he was targeted by law enforcement authorities, including parole authorities in conjunction with the Pennsylvania State Police and the Drug Enforcement Administration. (Id. at 31.) In February of 2000, McFadden was taken into custody by federal authorities, and "[t]he United States and the John Doe defendants used the false conviction to deny [him] bail." (Id.) They also "corruptly abused and perverted process by using the false conviction, 'facts' allegedly contained in the Philadelphia charging documents, and the falsified records to enhance McFadden's federal sentence." (Id.) Public dockets reflect that in 2000, McFadden was convicted of conspiracy to possess cocaine with the intent to distribute, aiding and abetting an attempt to possess cocaine with the intent to distribute, and possession with intent to distribute more than five (5) grams of cocaine base, and was sentenced to 108 months of imprisonment. United States v. McFadden, Criminal Action No. 00-107 (E.D. Pa.).[4]

         McFadden was "again targeted in October 2015 by the United States." (Compl. at 33.) He alleges that "[t]he United States again use[d] the false conviction of 1996, and the false information in state and federal records, to obstruct justice and falsely accuse McFadden in court documents of being a 'murder' [sic] and danger to society." (Id.) McFadden was again denied bail. (Id.) In 2016, the United States presented a superseding indictment, accusing McFadden of participating in "a multi-year conspiracy dating back to 2009 while he was incarcerated." (Id.) McFadden alleges that he has entered into a "negotiated plea" in this matter. (Id. at 55.)

         McFadden claims that as a result of the Defendants' conduct, he was "improperly arrested and imprisoned, unfairly tried, wrongfully convicted, and forced to serve over 20 years in prison for a crime he did not commit." (Compl. at 45.) He "sustained economic injuries and damages, including loss of income and loss of career opportunities." (Id.) McFadden was also "deprived of his familial relationships." (Id.)

         McFadden raises claims pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for abuse of process in violation of the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments, deprivation of liberty and denial of a fair trial, violation of his right against self-incrimination in violation of the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments, civil rights conspiracy, failure to intervene, supervisory liability against Defendants Burke and Duffey, and municipal liability against the City of Philadelphia. (Id. at 46-54.) He also alleges violations of the Pennsylvania Constitution, "including the Declaration of Fundamental Rights." (Id. at 54.) McFadden also contends that the Defendants have violated the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act ("RICO"), and also alleges various tort claims under state law. (Id. at 57-59.) He claims that he is entitled to coram nobis and mandamus relief, as well as injunctive relief in the form of "enjoin[ing] the United States from using the false information and defective convictions to the detriment of plaintiff." (Id. at 55.) McFadden also requests that he be "discharge[d]" in Criminal Action No. 15-376, or that any sentence be adjusted "because of the prosecutorial misconduct that has infected the proceedings in Case 376." (Id. at 56.) He also seeks an order enjoining the Defendants "from employing any process or using in any way, any information which in whole or part is derived from or includes the [1996] conviction ..., and further, to relieve [him] from any direct or indirect burden in any way traceable to the misconduct describe herein." (Id. at 59.) Finally, McFadden seeks $50 million in compensatory damages, punitive damages "of not less than 10 times the amount of compensatory damages, " "[s]tatutory treble damages of not less than $100 million, " and attorneys' fees. (Id.)

         II. STANDARD OF REVIEW

         Although McFadden has paid the filing fee in full, the Court has the authority to screen his Complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A. See Shane v. Fauver,213 F.3d 113, 116 n.2 (3d Cir. 2000) (recognizing that the district courts have the authority to screen a prisoner complaint pursuant to § l9l5A(b)(1) even if the prisoner is not proceeding in forma pauperis). Section 1915 A requires that the Court "review, before docketing, if feasible or, in any event, as soon as practicable after docketing, a complaint in a civil action in which a prisoner seeks redress from a governmental entity or officer or employee of a governmental entity." 28 U.S.C. ยง l9l5A(a). In doing so, the Court must dismiss a complaint or any portion thereof that "is frivolous, malicious, or fails to ...


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