A Pennsylvania police chief has resigned and agreed to plead guilty to a federal civil rights violation after the chief threatened to arrest a man who was critical of him on Facebook.

In a press release on May 28, federal law enforcement authorities alleged that West Hazleton Police Chief Brian Bulgio “threatened a private citizen with criminal charges, in retaliation for social media posts created by the private citizen that were critical of Buglio and of the West Hazleton Police Department.”

  • Bulgio, a 25-year veteran of the West Hazleton Police Department, agreed to plead guilty to one count of deprivation of civil rights under color of law,” according to The New York Times.
  • The federal penalty for the civil rights violation, according to the plea, is “up to a year in prison and a $100,000 fine,” the Times reported.
  • The chief also resigned as part of the plea, reported Pennsylvania’s WBRE/WYOU-TV.

From Facebook to felony threats

The police chief allegedly threatened to charge and arrest Paul DeLorenzo with a made-up felony after DeLorenzo criticized Buglio’s police work on Facebook and alleged the chief had committed a violent crime, according to Scranton ABC-affiliate WNEP 16.

  • “Well, you like to post fake things and fake stories about me, so I could make up a fake arrest and put you in jail,” DeLorenzo said Buglio told him during a meeting last year at the police headquarters, WNEP 16 reported.
  • DeLorenzo agreed at the March 4, 2020, meeting — which had been organized by Buglio — to remove the Facebook posts, reported WBRE/WYOU-TV.
  • The FBI’s Public Corruption Task Force investigated the case, according to the Department of Justice press release.