Court refuses further review

The Pennsylvania Superior Court has refused further review of the conviction of an Altoona man sentenced to a state prison term on charges he attempted to have unlawful contact with a minor.

Leonard Stossel, 62, was sentenced to five to 10 years behind bars followed by seven years’ probation after he was arrested for attempting to set up a meeting with a teenager.

Stossel, as it turned out, had been communicating with an agent of the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Office who canvasses Internet chat rooms in search of child predators.

He was sentenced on Dec. 1, 2006, and was paroled from the State Correctional Institution at Mercer last summer.

Although released from prison, Stossel is still fighting the charges against him. Last July, he appealed to the Superior Court Blair County Judge Timothy M. Sullivan’s ruling that denied him further appeals in his case because his last petition was filed nearly two years after the deadline.

A three-judge panel of the Superior Court, including Susan Peikes Gantman, Paula Francisco Ott and James J. Fitzgerald, ruled this week that Sullivan’s ruling denying further review of the case due to an untimely petition was correct.

Defendants have a year to file post-conviction petitions after the initial round of appeals in the state courts have been completed.

The Superior Court upheld Stossel’s conviction and sentence on Nov. 8, 2007, but it wasn’t until June 2, 2010, that he challenged his conviction in a post-conviction petition.

Sullivan denied Stossel’s request for further review because his petition was untimely.

Stossel, however, maintained that he missed the one-year deadline for filing an appeal because of serious eye problems.

Sullivan indicated that Stossel’s vision problems were resolved in June 2008, yet his petition for further review wasn’t filed until June 2010.

The Superior Court panel stated Sullivan’s opinion was “well-reasoned,” and the Court “adopted” his opinion and rejected further appeal.

Stossel, who is represented by attorney Timothy Burns, has the right to ask the Pennsylvania Supreme Court to overrule the Superior Court decision.

Mirror Staff Writer Phil Ray is at 946-7468.