Pozonsky breaking the ice in Alaska

December 4, 2012
Paul Pozonsky

Former Washington County Judge Paul Pozonsky is now making headlines in Alaska.

Pozonsky resigned from the bench on June 30 after more than 15 years and amid reports he is the subject of a state investigation.

The 57-year-old Pozonsky, who handled most of the county’s criminal cases, became the focus of attention when President Judge Debbie O’Dell Seneca reassigned him to preside only over civil cases and suspended him from the county’s 23-month drug treatment court, over which he presided and founded in 2005.

Pozonsky’s troubles seemingly escalated after District Attorney Eugene Vittone questioned the judge’s May 1 order to destroy “any and all evidence” related to 17 closed cases spanning 1998 to 2011. Most of the cases were drug-related, while a few were violent crimes involving a firearm and knife. Pozonsky’s order did not specify who requested the destruction of the evidence, nor did it indicate who was to destroy it. The evidence was destroyed two days after the order was issued and prior to Vittone’s request that the judge vacate his destruction order. Soon after his resignation, Pozonsky and his wife, Sarah, sold their North Strabane Township home and moved to Alaska. Sarah Pozonsky is a native of Soldotna, Alaska, and still has family there.

Last week, Pozonsky again came to the forefront when an Alaskan columnist/commentator questioned his appointment by Gov. Sean Parnell as hearing officer for the state’s Department of Labor and Workforce Development Workers’ Compensation Board in Anchorage.

In her column published in the Anchorage Daily News, Shannyn Moore said, “The job of hearing officer for the state of Alaska is a pretty important job. In other states, hearing officers are called judges and wear black robes.”

She proceeds to ask why Pozonsky, a Pennsylvanian, was chosen to fill a vacant hearing officer position rather than any of the 4,000 attorneys in the state.

According to Moore, a few months ago, the hearing officer position with the Workers’ Compensation Board opened. Applications arrived, the application process closed, resumes were reviewed, candidates were interviewed and a hiring decision appeared imminent. But then something happened. The application process was reopened, a new application arrived, and a late applicant, Pozonsky, got hired.

Moore alleges that Pozonsky’s hiring may have a family connection. She points out that Pozonsky is married to the sister of Chuck Kopp, who was former Gov. Sarah Palin’s replacement for Public Safety Commissioner Walt Monegan (a change prompted by Monegan’s unwillingness to carry out Palin’s wish that he fire her trooper ex-brother-in-law). Kopp wasn’t vetted by Palin’s staff, so when his history of sexual harassment allegations became public, he bowed out of the job, said Moore.

A call placed to Pozonsky at his office was put on hold for a significant amount of time before it went to voicemail. He did not respond to a message seeking comment.

In the meantime, Pozonsky is not the only one in his family making news.

Sarah Pozonsky recently cut an album, and is selling her songs on the Internet. Her husband sang backup on one of the songs.

She has also completed a documentary, entitled “A Fishy Tale,” that examines the ill effects of fish farming. The documentary is set to be released this spring.

Linda Metz has been with the Observer-Reporter since 2000, covering Washington County courts and politics, as well as the city of Washington. She previously was employed by the Tribune Review. She is a graduate of Point Park College, now a university, in Pittsburgh.

View More from this Author



blog comments powered by Disqus