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Cecil police chief resigns; captain promoted

| Monday, April 1, 2013, 8:24 p.m.

Cecil has a new police chief for the first time in nearly four decades.

Supervisors in the Washington County municipality on Monday unanimously accepted the resignation and retirement of Chief John Pushak, who spent the last month on paid leave pending an investigation of a department account.

Supervisors voted to promote Capt. Sean Bukovinsky to chief, effective immediately. Supervisor Elizabeth Cowden cast the only dissenting vote, saying she wanted Bukovinsky to agree to move into the township.

“This has been my life's work. I do not make this decision lightly or without much thought,” Pushak, 63, wrote in a letter read by Supervisor Chairman Thomas Casciola. “The board can be certain my decision is irrevocable.”

Pushak's departure was effective March 5, the day he was placed on administrative leave. Pushak, who joined Cecil police in 1974, did not attend the meeting.

The issue that led to Pushak's departure involved a township account related to the federal Department of Justice's asset forfeiture program, said Phillip Binotto, a Cecil resident and labor lawyer with Eckert Seamans hired to lead a special investigation and audit. Money from the account is to be used to pay for sting operations and police equipment.

He presented his findings on Monday to township officials in a closed meeting.

“There was some discrepancy,” Binotto said. “There were unauthorized withdrawals and unauthorized deposits.”

The amount in question was less than $10,000, Binotto said.

“All of the funds have now been accounted for, and there are no missing funds,” he said. “The township has been made whole.”

Binotto did not provide details of how the money was replaced.

He and township solicitor John Smith met with District Attorney Eugene Vittone before the meeting. There was no immediate indication of any possible criminal charges in the case.

Pushak brought the matter concerning irregularities in the account to the township's attention, Casciola said.

Binotto added that Pushak cooperated fully with his investigation.

“He answered each and every question,” Binotto said. “He did not try to hinder the investigation in any way.”

Cowden recommended and fellow supervisors agreed that Pushak should not be hired for any township positions.

More than 80 people attended the meeting, including more than a dozen current and former Cecil police officers and Bukovinsky's family.

Jason Cato is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7936 or jcato@tribweb.com.

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