WILKES-BARRE, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — A former police chief in Luzerne County is going to prison for using his position to threaten a citizen.
Former Police Chief of West Hazleton, Brian Buglio, is going to prison, after admitting he tried to strong-arm a resident who was posting negative comments about him and the department on Facebook.
The federal judge told Buglio he violated a most sacred trust: the public trust. Buglio apologized for his actions in court Tuesday.
Former West Hazleton Police Chief Brian Buglio left federal court in Wilkes-Barre shortly after he was sentenced two months in federal prison, four months home confinement with electronic monitoring, and a $5,000 fine.
Buglio admits he told a resident, Paul Delorenzo, he would arrest him on a felony charge unless he stopped posting negative comments about him and the department on Facebook. According to federal prosecutors the conversation and threat were recorded on a camera inside the West Hazleton Police station.
Buglio told the man he knew the felony charge lacked merit but he would file it anyway. In court Tuesday a judge sentenced Buglio. Buglio apologized in court and said he takes full responsibility for what he did.
“I have no one to blame but myself for this. I apologize to the community and to my family. I’m embarrassed,” Buglio said.
“Justice was served,” exclaimed Paul DeLorenzo.
DeLorenzo is the man that was targeted by Buglio for his Facebook posts.
“He got two months in prison, four months home confinement. I feel is sufficient for what he has as done. I hope he just learned his lesson for his mistakes and everyone else in Luzerne County, all other law enforcement, should abide by the law and not break the law,” explained DeLorenzo.
Delorenzo says he could not believe what was happening when Buglio threatened him with arrest.
“Don’t become a cop if you don’t want to follow the law,” DeLorenzo said. Federal Judge Joseph Saporito told Buglio that his actions gave all law enforcement a black eye.
“The sentence has to send a message to other law enforcement and those in position of authority. The public trust is sacred and cannot be violated,” said Judge Saporito.
Buglio apologized in court Tuesday, but federal judge Joseph Saporito said he had to send a strong message with the sentence that no one is above the law. People in West Hazleton were reacting to the sentencing.
“I was really surprised he got jail time out of it. I’m just surprised he got it,” said Neil Blasko.
Neil and Roseanne Blasko have lived in West Hazleton for their entire lives. They have had dealings with Brian Buglio and say he was always a professional.
“Well, yes it’s disappointing it should never have happened but it did. It always gives a black eye for the police department like this,” said Niel.
“The people in West Hazleton are great, they like the cops. No matter who you talk to they are 100 percent for the cops. I think more people will feel bad for him than those who will be glad what happened,” Roseanne said.
Buglio admitted that he threatened to arrest Delorenzo, who came to federal court Tuesday, unless he stopped posting negative comments about Buglio and the police department on Facebook. West Hazleton Mayor John Chura reacted.
“That is a surprise. We did not expect that. We thought he was going to get probation. So this is a surprise to all of us here,” said Mayor Chura.
Three days after he pleaded guilty to a federal civil rights charge, borough council voted to allow Buglio to keep his position as public safety director in the borough. People from around the area were asking how could he be hired as public safety director with this big shadow cloud over him?
“Yes, well, you know he did a lot of good for West Hazleton. Everybody does make a mistake in their life. But he has done a lot of good for many more years. So we just didn’t want to get rid of him. We have to talk and see which options are from this point on,” explained Mayor Chura.
Buglio must surrender to federal prison officials on November 5th.