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Charges dropped in case of Tarentum lawyer pulling gun on brother

Chuck Biedka
| Friday, May 18, 2007

A lawyer will not face trial for pointing a pistol at his brother, also an attorney, two months ago in their Tarentum law office building.

District Judge Linda Zucco ruled Wednesday that John Paz, 50, of Minnesota Avenue, Harrison, was justified because his brother, Jim, took a step toward him April 23 and was getting ready to fight him.

The men's father, Frank Paz, 82, and a retired lawyer, testified that he broke up the confrontation, adding he didn't see a gun or hear threats.

Jim Paz testified that he wasn't getting ready to fight but wanted to move the heated conversation to a rear porch as they had done in the past. He said John tended to become loud, and he didn't want employees and clients to hear them arguing.

The confrontation happened inside the East Tenth Avenue, Tarentum, law offices owned by John Paz and the men's father, Frank. A sign there advertises the law offices of Paz, Paz and Paz.

Jim Paz said the brothers had been partners for about 20 years, but that ended about a year ago. Both men still maintained offices in the same building until the April incident.

Jim Paz testified an ongoing dispute came to a head April 23 when he learned his brother changed the locks to his office and cut telephone service.

Defense attorney Michael Foglia countered by saying Jim Paz was known to threaten his brother.

Company secretary-bookkeeper Geraldine Masarik testified that she heard Jim Paz threaten his brother after an argument. She said that he was slow in making rent and other payments to the firm.

Foglia said police got involved when Jim Paz contacted police and arranged for John Paz to have an involuntary mental health evaluation at a local hospital. Foglia said John Paz was released with a clean bill of health within 45 minutes.

Tarentum police officer Mark Glogowski testified John Paz later admitted that he had pulled a small semi-automatic pistol from his coat pocket and threatened his brother to end the confrontation.

Authorities said John Paz had a permit to carry the gun, and was in his place of business, so he was not breaking any laws .

After listening to the testimony, Zucco said it appeared to be a matter of self-defense.

The case was moved to Zucco's court in Plum because Highlands area District Judge Carolyn Bengel recused herself because both lawyer/brothers handle cases in her court.

After the hearing, John Paz declined comment.

"I'm disappointed," Jim Paz said.

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