Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Apollo Police Chief Faces Gun Theft, Sale Charges

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Apollo Police Chief Faces Gun Theft, Sale Charges

Article excerpt

The Apollo police chief was arrested on charges that he stole and sold guns from a residence as well as police guns and other equipment purchased with the Armstrong County borough's grant money and pocketed the proceeds.

Chief Paul Breznican Jr. turned himself in to state police Wednesday and was arraigned by Magisterial District Judge James Andring on felony counts of theft by unlawful taking, theft by deception, receiving stolen property and theft by failure to make required disposition of funds, and a misdemeanor charge of official oppression.

In an affidavit, police said Chief Breznican illegally confiscated a shotgun and rifle on a suicide check in 2006 and sold the guns to a dealer in Saltsburg, Indiana County, 10 days later.

He is also accused of selling one of the department's AR-15 rifles -- purchased with federal grant money -- and ammunition to a Spring Church man two years ago as well as a .22-caliber rifle, a tear gas gun and a tear gas baton to an arms dealer in Apollo.

"We believe these are people that he knew," said Armstrong County District Attorney Scott Andreassi. "What his motivation was for doing it, we can't tell you."

Chief Breznican was suspended with pay a week after the case was brought to the attention of state police by Mark Ford, the boyfriend of Apollo manager Lori Weig-Tamasy.

Mr. Ford went to state police on the borough manager's behalf June 6 to report that she realized weapons were missing from the police department when she started looking for items purchased with $50,000 in federal grant money between 2006 and 2009.

She did not come forward herself because of her position with the borough, the affidavit states. Ms. Weig-Tamasy could not be reached for comment.

In a subsequent investigation, police spoke with James Minich of Spring Church, who said Chief Breznican sold him a new AR-15 rifle and a case of ammunition two years ago.

He sold the ammunition for $15 a box and the rifle for $700, according to a criminal complaint. Mr. Minich said the chief told him the AR-15 was his personal weapon.

Police also reported that they learned Chief Breznican sold a .22- caliber rifle, a tear gas gun and a tear gas baton for $250 to Bob Shearer of RWS Arms. …

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