Ex-judge accused of taking cocaine from evidence challenges validity of chambers' search

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WASHINGTON, Pennsylvania — A judge must now decide whether to toss out evidence in the trial of a former judge accused of stealing cocaine from evidence files.

A suppression hearing wrapped up Thursday in the case of former Washington County judge Paul Pozonsky, who is accused of taking the drugs and replacing some of them with baking soda before he was removed from hearing criminal cases early in 2012.

The defense contends that a president judge's order to search Pozonsky's chambers was "illegal, invalid and unconstitutional." Attorney Robert Del Greco said state police and the attorney general's office did not have probable cause for a search warrant, and he calls the order an attempt to "circumvent the Fourth Amendment."

State prosecutors, however, argue that the court order signed by President Judge Debbie O'Dell Seneca was legal, since it dealt with evidence, not Pozonsky's personal property.

District Attorney Eugene Vittone testified Thursday that when he pursued the order his "concern was the integrity of the evidence in the court."

Pozonsky, 58, wasn't present at Thursday's hearing. He is charged with conflict of interest, theft, obstruction of justice, possession of a controlled substance and misapplying entrusted government property.

He retired in June 2012 and moved to Alaska following 15 years as a common pleas judge and a term almost as long as a lower-level district judge.

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