Testimony ends in evidence suppression hearing for former Washington County judge

A decision on whether key evidence can be presented at the trial of Paul Pozonsky is expected sometime this fall, an attorney for the former Washington County Common Pleas judge said Thursday.

A suppression hearing for Mr. Pozonsky, 58, ended Thursday after several proceedings before Visiting Senior Judge Daniel Howsare of Bedford County.

Lawyers for Mr. Pozonsky, accused of stealing cocaine from evidence bags in cases he presided over, contend that investigators erred in seizing drug evidence from a locker in the judge’s courthouse office on May 9, 2012, by using an administrative court order rather than a search warrant.

Common Pleas President Judge Debbie O’Dell Seneca signed the order permitting the search, which yielded evidence police said showed Mr. Pozonsky had stolen drugs and led to his indictment.

He is charged with eight counts of theft, four counts of possession, and one count each of misapplication of entrusted property, obstruction, and felony conflict of interest.

His lawyer, Robert Del Greco, has said the state police and attorney general’s office did not have probable cause for a search warrant, repeatedly calling the order an attempt to “circumvent the Fourth Amendment.”

On Thursday, Washington County District Attorney Eugene Vittone testified at the second of two evidentiary hearings and maintained that he pursued the order to secure drug evidence that pertained to active cases. Under direct examination, he said state police and the AG’s office were invited to discussions about the order because “it implicated evidence that was subject of their investigation.”

Judge Howsare ruled in June that Judge O’Dell Seneca was not compelled to testify about the order she signed.

Mr. Del Greco said he expects Judge Howsare’s ruling on the suppression matter to come in October or November.

Mr. Pozonsky, who retired in 2012 and moved to Alaska, did not attend Thursday’s hearing.

Molly Born: mborn@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1944.

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