ANCHORAGE, Alaska – State labor officials are examining a move by Gov. Sean Parnell’s administration to name a Pennsylvania judge as the hearing officer for workers’ compensation cases, even though the job is not supposed to be a political appointment, a newspaper reported.
Paul Pozonsky, 57, was appointed by the administration Oct. 8, the Anchorage Daily News reported.
Pozonsky resigned about two months later after questions were raised by the newspaper about filling the civil service position.
The workers’ compensation agency handles disputes over medical benefits, rehabilitation services and lost pay involving injured workers.
Parnell spokeswoman Sharon Leighhow said the governor wants to know how the vetting of candidates can be improved. She said the governor does not know Pozonsky or his wife, Sara, who is a third-generation Alaskan.
Sara Pozonsky’s brother is Chuck Kopp, an aide to Sen. Fred Dyson, R-Eagle River. Kopp’s wife, Trish, also is an aide to Dyson.
Sara Pozonsky and Trish Kopp have a seafood business together, Wild Alaskan Salmon Co.
There was no listing for Paul Pozonsky in Alaska. A phone message left by the Associated Press at his wife’s business wasn’t immediately returned Friday, nor was an email to her company.
Parnell, Chuck Kopp and Dyson all said they weren’t references for Pozonsky and did nothing to help him get the hearing officer job.
“In fact, I didn’t even know about it,” Dyson said on a telephone call in which he put Kopp on speakerphone.
Assistant labor commissioner Greg Cashen said the outcome of the probe won’t be public, citing an Alaska statute on personnel records.
Pozonsky was a Washington County judge when he resigned in June from the Court of Common Pleas.
The previous month, President Judge Debbie O’Dell Seneca reassigned Pozonsky to preside only over civil court cases. He had previously carried a heavy criminal caseload.
Seneca made the move after Pozonsky ordered the destruction of evidence in more than a dozen drug cases. Pozonsky vacated the destruction order after prosecutors pointed out that defendants had due process rights regarding their property, but evidence was already destroyed.