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Irwin council fires Pocsatko as chief

| Friday, Jan. 18, 2013, 4:42 a.m.

Irwin council fired borough police Chief Joe Pocsatko at a special meeting on Thursday night.

All six councilors in attendance favored the motion by Councilwoman Joanna Jordan to remove Pocsatko from the position he had held for three years.

Councilman Bob Wayman seconded. Councilwoman Phyllis Thiem was absent.

Council president John Cassandro and others referred questions to solicitors Alan K. Berk and Todd T. Turin, who were not at Thursday's meeting.

Mayor Dan Rose placed Pocsatko on administrative leave last month.

“It happened and it's OK with me,” Rose said. “I'm in agreement with the council.”

Pocsatko was did not attend the meeting. He responded to questions via email.

“In mid-September I had to forward three complaints regarding the mayor's inappropriate comments and conduct,” Pocsatko wrote. “This was nothing but a political retaliation orchestrated by the mayor. I have been in contact with (Fraternal Order of Police) Lodge 39, and the law firm of Welby, Lightman and Stoltenberg to file the appropriate appeal through the Civil Service Commission. I will do that once I receive an official letter on why I was terminated.”

Council allocated $44,994 in the 2013 budget for the chief's salary.

Cassandro said he's not sure who the next chief will be. Officer in Charge Dan Wensel has handled administrative duties in Pocsatko's absence.

Wensel said the department has two full-time officers and 10 part-time officers. He declined to comment about the firing.

Pocsatko, 34, is a 15-year veteran of the borough's police force. He was named chief when John Karasek retired in 2010.

He was hospitalized briefly on Oct. 10 following an incident at the borough police station.

Pocsatko said at the time that he was expected to miss four to six weeks of work because of separated bone in his right hand, an injury sustained while he was defending himself against 26-year-old Randolph Steven Piper.

Cassandro said Pocsatko returned to work, but he was not sure for how long.

Piper, of Trafford, was charged with aggravated assault and held for court at a preliminary hearing before Magisterial District Judge Douglas R. Weimer Jr. on Jan. 8.

Council made several appointments Thursday:

• William Snyder to the civil service commission for a term to expire on Dec. 31, 2015.

• John Fonzo to the civil service commission for a term to expire on Dec. 31, 2016.

• William Hawley to the planning commission for a term to expire on Dec. 31, 2015.

• Cheryl Dufford to the zoning hearing board for a term to expire on Dec. 31, 2015.

Michael DiVittorio is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-664-9161, ext. 1965, or mdivittorio@tribweb.com.

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