Still no set timeline for Pozonsky case

March 11, 2014
Paul Pozonsky

During a status conference Tuesday for former Washington County judge Paul Pozonsky’s ongoing criminal case, Pozonsky’s legal team argued for access to grand jury testimony that could be pertinent to an upcoming suppression hearing.

One of Pozonsky’s attorneys, Mark Fiorilli, said the testimony may shed light on documents or conversations that pertain to an eight-day span leading up to the May 9, 2012, search of Pozonsky’s chambers. Fiorilli said the testimony may provide additional information that would benefit his client.

Pozonsky was not present at the conference.

The Pittsburgh-based Fiorilli and Robert Del Greco Jr. argued that a May 9, 2012, administrative order from President Judge Debbie O’Dell Seneca used to search Pozonsky’s chambers was “illegal, invalid and unconstitutional,” according to a pretrial motion filed Feb. 24. The order, which was not a search warrant, was treated like one, and searches may only be authorized by warrants, the document contends. As a result, Pozonsky’s lawyers argue that all of the evidence obtained in the search should be suppressed.

A suppression hearing date has not yet been set.

“We were only provided with so much information,” Fiorilli said. “Between May 1 and May 9 (there was a gap in information) and the bulk of their investigation occurred. We want to explore what happened there.”

Visiting Senior Judge Daniel Lee Howsare of Bedford County said he wanted to review the pretrial motion before he made any rulings on the matter.

Pozonsky, 58, who lived in Cecil Township until moving to Kenai, Alaska, after his abrupt resignation from the bench last year, is charged with a felony count of conflict of interest and multiple misdemeanor counts including theft, obstruction of justice, misapplication of entrusted government property and possession of a controlled substance.

Investigators accused Pozonsky of stealing cocaine evidence after ordering police to bring it into his courtroom during several routine pretrial hearings. He allegedly kept the drugs in a locked cabinet in a vault in his office, and replaced them with other substances, including baking soda.

District Attorney Gene Vittone repeatedly asked for the evidence to be returned so it could be properly stored or destroyed. However, Pozonsky told Vittone he personally destroyed all of the evidence in his possession. A court reporter in Pozonsky’s office found a box containing evidence and turned it over to the district attorney’s office, authorities said.

Pozonsky resigned from his seat in June 2012 after he was removed from hearing criminal cases by O’Dell Seneca when reports surfaced that he was being investigated by a state grand jury. He spent nearly 15 years on the bench as a Washington County judge and previously served 13 years as a district magistrate in Cecil Township and McDonald.

Pozonsky remains free on a $25,000 unsecured bond.

Francesca Sacco joined the Observer-Reporter as a staff writer in November 2013, and covers the Washington County Courthouse and education. Prior to working with the Observer-Reporter, Francesca was a staff writer with a Gannett paper in Ohio. She graduated from Point Park University with a dual bachelor’s degree in print and broadcast journalism.

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