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Irwin strikes settlement with former police chief

| Thursday, Feb. 14, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

Irwin council voted unanimously on Wednesday to rehire former police Chief Joseph Pocsatko and will then accept his voluntary resignation, which is expected Thursday.

In January, council fired Pocsatko, who said at the time that he would appeal what he called “a wrongful termination.”

Pocsatko, 37, did not return an email seeking comment on Wednesday night.

A settlement agreement, approved by council on Wednesday and released by borough solicitor Todd Turin, states that Pocsatko will immediately withdraw his pending request to the borough's civil service commission appealing his discharge.

“By entering into the agreement,” the settlement states, “the parties do not admit any wrongdoing, liability, or violation of law, rather they are entering into this agreement to avoid litigation and keep the peace.”

Among the settlement's provisions:

• If Pocsatko applies for unemployment compensation, the borough will not oppose.

• Pocsatko “generally releases” the borough from legal claims.

• Pocsatko has returned all borough property, including keys and computer files, and documents.

Council is expected to vote in March to accept the resignation retroactively, Turin said.

The settlement means that no civil service hearing will be held, Turin said.

Pocsatko has signed off on the settlement agreement, Turin said. Borough officials, except for borough Manager Mary Benko who was absent from the meeting, signed the document Wednesday.

The agreement does not include any money.

“There's no monetary consideration with the agreement,” Turin said.

Pocsatko had been placed on administrative leave in December, upon returning from a medical leave. He was fired in January, and Turin declined comment when asked what led to the firing.

The department has two full-time officers and about 10 part-time officers on its roster who patrol Irwin and North Irwin boroughs.

Dan Wensel will continue as the department's officer in charge, council President John Cassandro said. Council has not made a decision on a new chief, Cassandro said.

Rossilynne Skena is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-836-6646 or rskena@tribweb.com.

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