Criminal Procedure

Ex-judge charged with stealing drug evidence while on the bench

A former Pennsylvania court judge has been charged on multiple counts of theft and drug possession.

The charges against retired Washington County Common Pleas judge Paul Pozonsky, who stepped down last year after he was stripped of all criminal cases by President Judge Debbie O’Dell-Seneca, follow a state police investigation of evidence envelopes that found cocaine was either missing or had been tampered with, the Observer-Reporter and the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette report.

In May 2011, then Judge Pozonsky “began to request, instruct and insist that police bring to his courtroom the controlled substances—usually cocaine—that had been confiscated in drug cases,” according to a release from the attorney general’s office noted by the Observer-Reporter. “The controlled substances would be entered into evidence and retained by Judge Pozonsky or his staff.”

Prior to his removal, Pozonsky unilaterally ordered the destruction of evidence on several mostly drug-related cases, allegedly infuriating the Washington County District Attorney’s office, which never learned how the evidence—which included drugs and cash—was disposed of, according an earlier Post-Gazette story.

Pozonsky moved to Anchorage, Alaska, after his retirement, but the Post-Gazette reports that he resigned from his position there as a workers’ compensation hearing officer for the Alaska Department of Labor after his rocky ending in Washington County came to light.

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