Wamberg Attempts to Withdraw Guilty Plea
A Centennial man who admitted in January to possessing child pornography returned to Albany County District Court Monday morning in a bid to withdraw his guilty plea.
Nathaniel Lane Wamberg, 18, says he felt scared and was rushed into the guilty plea by his former attorney and the court. He is also concerned about his name going on the sex offender registry.
“I don’t want to have to register for the rest of my life,” said Wamberg.
Albany County Sheriff’s deputies began investigating July 17 following a report that Wamberg may have been in possession of child pornography. Wamberg turned 18 on July 24.
Deputies searched Wamberg’s apartment August 5 and seized his cell phone, laptop, tablet and memory card. According to the affidavit, a deputy located over 100 images and videos of underage or prepubescent girls engaged in explicit sexual conduct on the memory card.
Wamberg was arraigned Sept. 4 on five counts of sexual exploitation of children. He was allowed to remain free on $20,000 signature bond on the condition that he maintain constant contact with public defender Randy Hiller, among other requirements.
Wamberg said Monday he fell out of contact with Hiller around Dec. 9, after several attempts to call Hiller at his office. Wamberg said he only ever spoke to Hiller’s receptionist and felt as though he was being brushed aside.
Thomas Fleener, Wamberg’s current attorney, filed the motion to withdraw the guilty plea. The motion alleges Hiller contacted the prosecutor shortly before Dec. 15 and said he had lost touch with Wamberg.
The motion also argues that Hiller and the prosecutor agreed that the prosecutor would ask for a scheduling conference to either compel Wamberg to show up or, if Wamberg didn’t attend the conference, give the court a reason to issue an arrest warrant.
The prosecutor requested a scheduling conference Dec. 15, and the next day that conference was set for Dec. 23. Wamberg did not attend, and his bond was revoked Jan. 1.
Wamberg said Monday he was unaware of the scheduling conference until he was booked at the Albany County Detention Center Jan. 5.
“I don’t feel that I was represented correctly,” said Wamberg.
Hiller did not testify at Monday's hearing. Under Rules 1.6 and 1.9 of Wyoming's Rules of Professional Conduct, attorneys are prohibited from revealing information protected by attorney-client privilege without the informed consent of the client. Attorneys must also prevent inadvertent disclosure of or access to confidential information related to representation of any past or present client.
Fleener said that despite the motion to withdraw, he and Wamberg felt the sentencing recommendation of six months of boot camp agreed to by the prosecution in the plea bargain was appropriate.
Judge Jeffrey Donnell questioned the wisdom of Wamberg’s attempt to withdraw his guilty plea if the outcome was ultimately satisfactory, saying Wamberg will have no choice but to register as a sex offender whether he admits guilt or is convicted at trial.
“That concern means nothing,” said Donnell.
“This case has never been about what the appropriate sentence is,” Fleener said. “It really is about whether the path from point A to point B is the correct path.”
Donnell noted that he gave Wamberg additional time beyond the Dec. 14 deadline to reach a plea bargain with the prosecution, saying things would have been simpler had the case gone to trial.
“We wouldn’t be here now, would we?” said Donnell.
Wamberg remains in custody while Donnell decides on the motion. If Donnell grants the motion, the prosecution will be able to refile in District Court the three charges dropped per the plea deal, and a trial could be scheduled for May 19.
Depending on whether the plea bargain holds, Wamberg could face a maximum sentence of up to 10 years in prison and $10,000 on each count.