Cecil police chief resigns; post filled

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CECIL – Without any lengthy discussion, Cecil Township Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to accept the resignation of longtime township police Chief John T. Pushak during a regular meeting Monday. Pushak has been on paid administrative leave since an executive session held by the five supervisors in February pending the outcome of an independent audit. His resignation was effective Feb. 5, after having served in the township police department for 38 years.


Township resident attorney Phillip Binotto was hired as independent counsel for the audit and told supervisors Monday that there was a fine line between discussing personnel matters and the residents’ right to know about the audit of the police department’s equitable sharing account established in 2009. The audit was conducted by the accounting firm of Cypher and Cypher, Binotto told supervisors and members of a nearly overflow audience. Money in the account was used for use in sting operations and to purchase equipment, Binotto said. The audit uncovered some discrepancies under $10,000 through unauthorized deposits and withdrawals for extra-duty expenses.


However, Binotto said, all of the discrepancies are currently accounted for and there are no missing funds.


He said Pushak cooperated fully with the investigation and “in no way tried to restrict the audit.”


Supervisor Chairman Thomas Casciola said Pushak brought the matter of possible discrepancies to the attention of Donald Gennuso, township manager, who notified Casciola, who notified John Smith, township solicitor.


Casciola read Pushak’s letter of resignation that included Pushak’s reference to the police job as being “my life’s work.” Pushak noted in his resignation letter his decision was irrevocable and offered to assist in the transition.


The former chief wrote in his letter that he believed he had the authority to deal with the equitable sharing account, as he perhaps had with previous boards, but that he recognized he did not consult with the current supervisors and that he “should have done so.”


Before voting on accepting Pushak’s resignation, Supervisor Elizabeth Cowden proposed an amendment that Pushak will not apply for any future positions in the township.


To fill the position of police chief, supervisors approved a motion to appoint Shawn F. Bukovinsky. The vote was not unanimous with Cowden voting against. She clarified her vote by saying while she held Bukovinsky in “high regard,” she would prefer to appoint him as officer in charge for one year “because of his grooming over the years,” in reference to Pushak.


Cowden also suggested requiring Bukovinsky to relocate his residence to the township and to have the use of a township vehicle for official township business only.


Bukovinsky said his family’s Canonsburg house is for sale and he expected to move to the township once the property is sold. He was then sworn in as the new police chief by Casciola as his wife, Saundra, and two sons looked on.


A large number of uniformed and nonuniformed township officers, former police officers and retired officers attended to wish Bukovinsky well in his new position. He was elevated from the rank of captain.


In January, Bukovinsky began his 19th year as a police officer in Cecil Township.


In a brief acceptance speech, Bukovinsky thanked the supervisors and said he looks forward to serving the township and promised “upmost transparency” in the department.


In referring to Cowden’s request to require Bukovinsky to have use of a township vehicle for official business only, Casciola said Gennuso is currently working on a new policy regarding use of township vehicles for all employees. The policy should be adopted at the May meeting, Casciola said.


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