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Apollo fires suspended police chief

| Saturday, Nov. 17, 2012, 12:57 a.m.
Valley News Dispatch
Former Apollo police Chief Paul Breznican.

Apollo Borough Council voted 4-1 on Friday to fire its suspended police Chief Paul Breznican, who was held for trial last month on charges of theft and receiving stolen property.

The state Attorney General's Office is prosecuting the case against Breznican, 52, who faces charges of receiving stolen property for allegedly selling weapons belonging to the borough. He also was held on a bribery charge related to his allegedly buying two guns he had confiscated from a resident.

Breznican's termination caps a year of tumult that began when the borough prohibited him from claiming his borough council seat in January as a write-in candidate, citing an incompatibility between his employment as police chief and serving as a councilman.

Then, former Mayor Rich Dixon suspended Breznican with pay in June with council's backing. Reasons given for the suspension included: Conduct unbecoming to an officer and insubordination to Breznican's superior, former Borough Manager Lori Weig-Tamasy, “by not immediately returning borough property in your possession when ordered to do so,” according to a letter from borough Solicitor Chuck Pascal.

He was previously not working because of an injury.

Breznican is free on bond pending trial.

“It's a shame it had to come to this,” said council President David Heffernan, who voted for Breznican's dismissal.

“It is what it is. I wish him well,” he said.

Councilman Pat Zelonka voted against firing Breznican because he has been absent for some of the council meetings. “I'm not up to speed on this,” he said.

Council's vote was triggered by Breznican's lack of response to an Oct. 31 registered letter from the borough. It informed him that council was considering his termination because the criminal charges against him were held for court after a hearing last month before Ford City District Judge Gary DeComo.

According to the letter sent by Pascal, the criminal charges, “have caused to bring dishonor and discredit upon the police department and has weakened public confidence, trust and respect in the police department.”

According to Pascal, Breznican picked up the registered letter on Nov. 2, didn't respond in the five-day period granted nor did he request a public hearing on his termination.

Calls to reach Breznican were not returned Friday evening.

Heffernan said he is not concerned with naming a police chief now.

Currently, the department is made up of two part-time officers, one of whom is Dave Fisher, the officer in charge. Council is looking to add two additional part-time officers, according to Heffernan.

Mary Ann Thomas is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-226-4691 or mthomas@tribweb.com.

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