Last year, Paul Pozonsky resigned from his position as a hearings officer for the state Department of Labor following an inquiry his residency status. The situation was odd for a number of reasons. For one, there were questions about whether Pozonsky landed the job because of his family’s political connections in Alaska. Then, there was the fact that he was being investigated by a grand jury in Pennsylvania for actions he took while he was a judge there. Now, that investigation is complete, and Pozonsky is facing trial for allegedly stealing cocaine that was being used as evidence in cases that the presided over. APRN’s Alexandra Gutierrez reports.
For years, Paul Pozonsky handled most of the criminal cases that came through his Pennsylvania county. He even started up a drug treatment court there. But this Thursday morning, he showed up to court in a baggy suit instead of black robes, and he was charged with theft, drug possession, obstruction of law, and more.
According to the grand jury report, Pozonsky would frequently ask that cocaine seized in his drug cases to be brought to him. When state investigators reviewed some of that evidence last year, they found that “cocaine was either missing or had been tampered with.” They also found Pozonsky’s DNA on one of the open cocaine bags. In other cases, Pozonsky in his capacity as a judge had ordered for that evidence to be destroyed, and the state was unable to examine it in this investigation. Over the years, Pozonsky allegedly ordered that a number of ounces of cocaine be brought to him and then stored in his chambers.
Pozonsky was released on a $25,000 bond, which lets him to return to Anchorage, where he now lives. His next court date is in June.
Pozonsky only moved to Alaska in 2012, after abruptly leaving his Pennsylvania judgeship. But his family has ties to former Lt. Gov. Loren Leman, and to Chuck Kopp, who briefly served as Public Safety commissioner under Gov. Sarah Palin during the days of the “Troopergate” scandal. Pozonsky’s wife also served on the Alaska Commission on Judicial Conduct in the 1990s.
Pozonsky came under scrutiny in the state in December, after the Department of Labor hired him for a position that was only for Alaska residents. Pozonsky was under investigation in Pennsylvania at the time of application. A December 2 column in the Anchorage Daily News criticized the state for disregarding that requirement in Pozonsky’s case and speculated that he might have secured the position through his political ties. (Leman and Kopp have previously stated that they were not involved in Pozonsky’s hire and that they did not serve as references.) Pozonsky resigned December 6.
The Department of Labor has since completed an internal investigation into Pozonsky’s hire, according to communications director Beth Leschper.
“[P]roper review and employment checks were not performed before Mr. Pozonsky’s hiring,” wrote Leschper in an e-mail.
Leschper added that Department has now modified its procedures to better vet applicants, but that the outcome of the investigation has been marked confidential for personnel reasons.
Pozonsky’s lawyer did not respond to a request for comment for this story.
You can read the full grand jury report here.