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Ex-Washington County judge takes big retirement payout

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By Bobby Kerlik
Thursday, Dec. 13, 2012, 12:01 a.m.
 

A former Washington County judge under investigation by the state Attorney General's Office elected to take a lump sum payment and first payment of his monthly retirement benefit six weeks after abruptly resigning from the bench.

The Pennsylvania State Employees' Retirement System confirmed Wednesday that Paul Pozonsky, 57, who served as a Common Pleas judge for 14 years, opted to take the $200,851 lump-sum withdrawal and his first $7,956 monthly payment. The state paid both to him on Aug. 10.

Pozonsky resigned June 29 after the district attorney's office questioned his order to destroy evidence in 17 criminal cases. A month before he quit, county President Judge Debbie O‘Dell Seneca removed him from hearing criminal cases.

Pozonsky's attorney, Robert Del Greco, declined to comment Wednesday but confirmed the investigation to the Tribune-Review in July. A spokesman for Attorney General Linda Kelly said the office would not confirm or deny the existence of an investigation.

“The lump sum payment, also referred to as an Option 4 Withdrawal, is a portion of the member's contributions plus 4 percent statutory interest compounded annually, which the member elected to receive at retirement,” Pamela Hile, deputy open records officer for the State Employees Retirement System, wrote in response to emailed questions. “Judge Pozonsky's first monthly annuity payment was retroactive to his date of retirement.”

He earned $169,541 annually.

The focus of the investigation is unclear but at least three assistant district attorneys appeared before the state grand jury in July.

Pozonsky served a brief stint in Alaska as a Worker's Compensation Board hearing officer. The Anchorage Daily News reported that he resigned last week after reporters began asking his superiors about the investigation, which quoted an email from Greg Cashen, assistant commissioner in the Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development.

Pozonsky, who started that $79,000-a-year job in October, could not be reached for comment. His North Strabane house sold for $410,000 in November, according to the Washington County Recorder of Deeds. His wife, Sara, is from Alaska.

Bobby Kerlik is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7886 or bkerlik@tribweb.com.

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