WILKES-BARRE, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE 28/WYOU 22 EYEWITNESS NEWS) — The former police chief of West Hazleton admits he threatened to arrest a resident who posted comments critical of the chief and his department.
Eyewitness News first reported word of the federal investigation last month. On Tuesday, the former police chief was in federal court.
Former police chief Brian Buglio admitted in open court to violating the civil rights of a resident. He now faces potential prison time.
The former police chief hid his face with an umbrella as he walked into federal court in Wilkes-Barre Tuesday morning to enter a guilty plea to a federal charge entitled “Deprivation of Civil Rights.”
The charge has to do with Facebook posts that were highly critical of Buglio and the West Hazleton Police Department.
Buglio admits to threatening to arrest a man named Paul Delorenzo on a felony charge, unless he stops posting negative Facebook comments about him and the police department.
Delorenzo told us he agreed to stop making the posts and even shook hands with Buglio to finalize the deal.
“I think he should lose his job in law enforcement and never have a job in law enforcement,” said Delorenzo, on May 28. “If there is anyone else out there in the same situation, where you better shut your mouth or you’re going to jail, please come forward.”
Buglio also admitted the felony charge lacked any merit, but he would file it against Delorenzo anyway. Buglio had no comment, but his attorney did.
“I can just tell you that Mr. Buglio has accepted responsibility for his actions. Extremely remorseful for his conduct and obviously, you saw today, he entered a guilty plea,” said Fortunato Perri, Jr., who represents Buglio.
Bob Bukaiski from West Hazleton says he knows Buglio and is disappointed in his actions.
“When you are a police officer, some people like you… Some people don’t. Reacting if they like you, they have good reaction. If they don’t like you, of course, they say you got what you deserved.”
Buglio had to resign as police chief as part of the plea agreement. He could face up to one year in prison and a $100,000 fine. However, federal prosecutors are recommending a sentence of between zero to 6 months in prison, because he has been cooperating in the investigation.
“Well, our office and entire department of justice takes these types of cases very seriously. Public officials are public servants and they are held to a very high standard. It’s very disappointing this particular individual would not live up to his path of office.”Bruce Brandler, acting United States attorney, Middle District of PA
Buglio is free on his own recognizance. He will be sentenced later this year.