Ex-judge the top Washington story of 2013

December 28, 2013
From left, Eric Wells, Troy Simmons Jr. and Adam Hankins arrive at Washington County Courthouse August 14. The three were charged with criminal homicide in the death of Timothy McNerney. - Katie Roupe / Observer-Reporter Order a Print

Violent crime, allegations of corruption and contentious relationships dominated the news in Washington County this year, with a judge resigning and then facing charges of stealing drugs from evidence, a man killed while trying to stop a bank robber and the county commissioners finally agreeing to do a countywide property reassessment after a five-year court battle.

The top story of 2013 in Washington County as voted by the editorial staff of the Observer-Reporter was criminal charges being filed against former judge Paul Pozonsky for allegedly stealing cocaine evidence from criminal cases he presided over. The charges came less than a year after he resigned from the bench when it was revealed a grand jury was investigating his conduct.

Pozonsky, 58, faces charges of conflict of interest, theft, obstruction of justice, possession of a controlled substance and misapplying entrusted government property. He is free on bail while awaiting trial, and has moved to Alaska, where his wife operates a business.

Also in the news was the August arrest of three suspects for allegedly killing a Washington & Jefferson College football player during a 2012 robbery attempt.

A Washington man was shot when he attempted to stop a bank robber from making his getaway outside the Giant Eagle at Strabane Square in South Strabane Township on Father’s Day. Vince “Mystro” Kelley tried to stop the robber who was making his getaway after robbing a bank branch in the supermarket, chasing him into the parking lot. Kelley jumped into the back of the robber’s vehicle and was shot while trying to reach for his knife. Authorities continue to look for the man who shot Kelley.

And Washington County commissioners finally gave up a five-year legal battle and agreed to a countywide property reassessment at a cost of $6.9 million. The commissioners reluctantly awarded a contract after running out of options in a long legal battle with Washington and McGuffey school districts, which began seeking a reassessment in 2008. The matter went back and forth between county court, Commonwealth Court and the state Supreme Court.

There were many other noteworthy local news stories that developed in 2013. The complete Top 10 overview can be found on Page B1.

Linda M. Ritzer is the associate editor at the Observer-Reporter. She has been with the O-R since 1986, first as a reporter covering courts, county government and politics, and then as an editor. She has a journalism degree from West Virginia University.

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