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The Judge Who Stole Cocaine From Evidence Locker

By William Vogeler, Esq. | Last updated on

Nobody knew the demons that followed Paul Michael Pozonsky to the bench.

Outwardly, Pozonsky was an exceptional county judge. He served on the ethics committee; he founded the drug court for people with substance abuse issues.

But the judge had his own drug problems, and they had started long ago. They finally came out when he was caught stealing cocaine from the evidence file in this courtroom.

Stolen Evidence

Pozonsky resigned from the bench in 2012, and he pleaded guilty to criminal charges in 2015. He served 30 days in jail, but his legal career just ended.

On the recommendation of disciplinary counsel, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court has disbarred Pozonsky. The court seemed most offended by his dishonesty as a judge.

According to reports, he ordered officers to bring drug evidence into court for pretrial hearings and then insisted on storing it in his chambers.

"He then surreptitiously and regularly removed quantities of this illicit substance from that locker when courtroom staff was not present, smuggled it out of the courthouse, and used it at his home," the supreme court said.

Investigators figured out Pozonsky had been tampering with the evidence when almost 300 grams of cocaine disappeared from the evidence file. He had tried to cover it up by replacing the cocaine powder with baking powder.

Public Trust

Justice Debra Todd wrote the disciplinary decision, and emphasized the gravity of Pozonsky's crimes.

"There are few transgressions which more seriously undermine the public's confidence and trust in the integrity of their judicial system, and which are as offensive to the high standards and principles which other members of the bench and bar strive so faithfully to uphold in the performance of their duties, than those committed by Pozonsky," she wrote.

For his part, Posonzky said he was never under the influence on the bench and that he has been in recovery since he resigned. In mitigation, he told the court that he had been serving the homeless and counseling others to help them overcome addictions.

In the meantime, he had moved from Pennsylvania and secured a job as a workers' compensation judge in Alaska. The disciplinary authorities said he should have disclosed that during disciplinary proceedings, and cited it as further evidence of dishonesty.

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