#1- Judge Pozonsky accused of stealing cocaine evidence from cases
Top 10 local Washington County stories of 2013
Less than a year after he resigned from the bench when it was revealed a grand jury was investigating his conduct, former Washington County Judge Paul Pozonsky returned to the area from his new home in Alaska to face accusations he stole cocaine evidence from criminal cases he presided over.
Pozonsky, 58, was charged on May 23 with conflict of interest, theft, obstruction of justice, possession of a controlled substance and misapplying entrusted government property, and has since waived all pretrial hearings as he prepares his case for trial in 2014.
The state attorney general’s investigation and subsequent charges were a shocking fall from grace for the long-time and well-respected jurist.
Pozonsky, who grew up in the Cecil Township village of Muse, started his judicial career as a district magistrate in 1984. He spent 13 years working in the McDonald and Cecil areas before winning a seat as a Washington County Common Pleas Court judge in 1997. He won re-election to another 10-year term in 2007, but trouble soon followed.
In the spring of 2011, former District Attorney Steve Toprani said he heard from various sources of “curious practices” about how evidence in Pozonsky’s courtroom was being handled. Toprani eventually referred the matter to the state attorney general’s office, which launched the grand jury investigation.
In May 2012, the drug treatment program Pozonsky started years before was temporarily shut down and President Judge Debbie O’Dell Seneca suspended him from hearing any criminal cases. Pozonsky resigned from his seat on June 27, 2012, and moved to his new home near Anchorage, Alaska, with his wife, Sara.
Pozonsky is believed to still be living there while out of jail on $25,000 unsecured bond. A trial date has not yet been set.