Ex-Apollo police chief sentenced to jail on theft charges
Apollo's former police chief is now an inmate in the Armstrong County Jail.
Armstrong County Judge James J. Panchik sentenced Paul L. Breznican Jr., 53, of Apollo on Thursday to serve nine to 27 months in the county lockup.
Breznican pleaded guilty in May to felony charges of theft, theft by deception and receiving stolen property, and to two misdemeanor charges involving the theft and sale of police guns and equipment.
In handing down the sentence, Panchik said he was not affording Breznican any special consideration: “Justice requires equal treatment.”
The state Attorney General's office prosecuted the case. Prosecutors withdrew 15 felony charges as part of a plea agreement, but made no recommendation on sentencing.
Senior Deputy Attorney General William Caye II, who handled the state's case, complimented the judge on his thoroughness.
“At the end of the day, it was a fair and just sentence,” Caye said. “That sentence is a standard sentence.”
Breznican's attorney, Duke George, also acknowledged that Panchik “took everything into consideration.
“I understand the judge's decision,” he said. “The sentence is fair under the circumstances.”
Panchik sent Breznican to jail despite George arguing that his client was a “perfect candidate” for house arrest.
Breznican was taken from Panchik's courtroom to the jail after Panchik denied George's request for Breznican to be allowed to report to the jail later.
Breznican was arrested in July 2012 on charges he sold a firearm bought with federal grant money and pocketed the cash. Apollo Council suspended him that month and fired him in November.
He had been free on bond. His guilty plea averted a trial.
Breznican, wearing a white shirt and tie, was accompanied to sentencing by his wife, stepdaughter and brother-in-law.
Apollo Councilman Darhl Goldinger was the only borough official to attend the sentencing. He had no comment.
A police officer who once worked with Breznican, Goldinger said he attended as a police officer out of curiosity. In court, he said he was there to observe.
Before sentencing, Breznican took the witness stand and offered a “sincere apology” to his former law enforcement colleagues and to the voters, residents and taxpayers of Apollo.
“I made a huge mistake. I'm deeply remorseful for my actions,” he said.
In arguing for house arrest, George said Breznican has had to endure the loss of his job, pension and reputation. Breznican has accepted responsibility for his actions, George said.
“My client is no risk in the community. He poses no threat to the community. It wouldn't serve any purpose whatsoever for my client to be incarcerated. He'd love to go home and spend the rest of his life with his family,” he said.
Panchik said he took Breznican's background into consideration, including his military and community service, along with testimonials from neighbors, family, friends and business associates.
He noted that Breznican had no criminal record.
Panchik said that Breznican cooperated in a pre-sentence investigation, which he said not many do.
“The court takes no pleasure in sentencing you whatsoever,” Panchik said.
But Panchik said he acknowledged the public nature of Breznican's offense.
“Your case also presents the situation of a government official who broke the laws he was charged and paid to enforce. It's a dilemma,” he said.
Panchik said his goal is to avoid giving anyone special treatment, including law-enforcement personnel.
“We try to treat everyone equally and fairly. That's because the public is entitled to justice,” he said.
Breznican's sentence of nine to 27 months in jail was on felony charges of theft and theft by deception. A felony charge of receiving stolen property was merged with the theft charge, with no further penalty.
No further penalties were imposed on misdemeanor charges of misapplication of entrusted property and obstructing the administration of law.
Breznican was given credit for one day served in jail. He was ordered to pay $500 to the county, and a supervision fee of $50 per month.
He was also ordered to perform 100 hours of community service.
Brian C. Rittmeyer is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-226-4701 or email@example.com.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- East Franklin family held at gunpoint in Arnold; no one hurt
- Storms knock out power to several in Western Pa.
- Man uninjured after leap from Hulton Bridge
- Police: Man riding bike in New Kensington strikes truck, dies
- Kiski River search finds kayak but no kayaker
- Springdale police chief receives long-awaited job description
- Roaring Run mountain bike trail to be thrust into limelight
- New Kensington constructs Little Free Library
- Woman, dog rescued at Harrison Hills
- Apollo-Ridge students connect world, science