A Pennsylvania police officer who threatened an independent citizen with criminal charges in retaliation for Facebook's sensitive comments has agreed to plead guilty to human rights abuses, state prosecutors said.
Brian Buglio was former police chief in West Hazleton, about 50 miles southwest of Scranton, when an independent citizen repeatedly in February 2020 "posted content on Facebook criticizing Buglio and the West Hazleton Police Department," according to U.S. U.S. Central District Court records.
The sensitive social media news sparked a meeting between Buglio, 45, and an independent resident of the West Hazleton Police Department on March 4, 2020, court records said.
“At that meeting, Brian Buglio, who worked under the guise of the law, threatened to follow up on criminal charges against Individual # 1, in retaliation for posting Individual # 1 on Facebook and blocking Individual # 1's free speech. At that meeting, Brian Buglio acknowledged that the criminal charges against him were wrong. ”
After a face-to-face meeting, an independent citizen agreed to remove his critical posts from social media, and also agreed to give up some of the undermining posts. Buglio and an independent citizen confirmed the agreement by shaking hands, court records said.
The case is being investigated by the Scranton Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Public Corruption Task Force. The team consists of members of the Pennsylvania State Police, the Pennsylvania Attorney General's Office, as well as FBI agents and the Internal Revenue Service, officials said.
West Hazleton Police Chief Brian Buglio
West Hazleton Police Chief Brian Buglio. West Hazleton Police Department
Government documents show that Buglio has agreed to plead guilty. Buglio's attorney, listed as Fortunato N. Perri, Jr., based in Philadelphia, did not immediately respond to NBC News' request for comment Tuesday. The case against Buglio faces a maximum sentence of one year in prison, plus a $ 100,000 fine, records say.
Two arrested after a shooting in Miami Beach; therapist DaBaby asked questions and was released
WNEP-TV ambassador to Scranton identified the victim as Paul DeLorenzo of East Stroudsburg.
DeLorenzo, who could not be reached for comment Tuesday, told reporters: "I said to Brian, 'Why are you doing this?' He goes, 'Well, you like to send fake things and stories that don't belong to me so I can make a false arrest and put you in jail.' "
It was not immediately clear on Tuesday that Buglio remains the head of police and the West Hazleton Police Department. Inquiries have been directed at West Hazleton police and officials by Borough Attorney Chistopher B. Slusser. Slusser did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
West Hazleton police have four full-time and four part-time employees, according to the department's website. Buglio has worked in the department since 1996.