WEST HAZLETON, Pa. (AP) — A police chief in northeastern Pennsylvania threatened to retaliate against a social media critic by filing unfounded criminal charges against the person, federal prosecutors said Friday in announcing a charge of violating civil rights. Federal court records indicate West Hazleton Chief Brian Buglio signed a plea agreement last month regarding one count of deprivation of civil rights.

The U.S. attorney’s office in Harrisburg said in a release that Buglio, 45, of Lattimer Mines, made the threat of criminal charges against a borough resident whose February 2020 Facebook posts were critical of Buglio and his police department.

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Phone messages were left for Buglio and his defense attorney. An assistant manager at West Hazleton borough referred questions about Buglio’s job status to the borough solicitor.

Buglio’s charging documents dated Thursday said that on March 4, 2020, Buglio summoned the Facebook critic to the department’s offices, where Buglio allegedly threatened to file unspecified felony charges.

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“During the meeting, Brian Buglio acknowledged that the threatened felony charges lacked merit,” prosecutors alleged. The critic agreed to remove the Facebook posts and shook hands with Buglio over the purported deal, according to charging documents.

The West Hazleton website said Buglio has worked for the department of four full-time and four part-time officers since 1996.

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