Judge unseals letters written in support of former Kenmore police chief who stole hydrocodone

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Four current and four former chiefs of police in Erie County wrote to a federal judge in support of former Kenmore Police Chief Peter Breitnauer before he was sentenced on a federal drug charge.

In total, more than three dozen people sent Hon. Kenneth Schroeder a letter before the sentencing earlier this month. Breitnauer was sentenced to one year probation and a $1,000 fine for stealing hydrocodone pills from the drug drop box at the Kenmore Police Station.

Breitnauer’s attorney, Tom Eoannou, said Breitnauer took the pills for personal use. At sentencing, Eoannou revealed that Breitnauer had undergone four major surgeries in recent years.

“This is a gentleman who, on Thanksgiving, spends his time wrapping Thanksgiving dinners for the poor,” Eoannou said. “You cannot, will not ever meet a finer man than Pete.”

Breitnauer’s successor, Kenmore Police Chief Thomas Phillips, also spoke kindly.

“Through this, I have never questioned Peter’s character, and I am proud to have had the opportunity to work under his mentorship,” Phillips wrote in his letter to Schroeder, which was among dozens of other letters that were recently unsealed.

Town of Hamburg Police Chief Gregory Wickett, Cheektowaga Police Chief David Zack, and West Seneca Police Chief Daniel Denz also wrote letters in support. Former Chiefs of Police Gerald Gill, of Lancaster, Anthony Palombo, of the Town of Tonawanda, Ernest Masullo, of Evans, and Ronald Krowka, of East Aurora, did as well.

“When he was arrested, like everyone else, I was shocked,” Wickett wrote. “As more details came out, I came to understand how something like this could happen. As a police officer for more than 30 years, I have seen many cases where people have become dependent on opiates after undergoing surgery and being prescribed these drugs to treat their pain.”

Former Kenmore Mayor John Beaumont, who served from 1985 through 2007, told the judge he has known Breitnauer for 47 years.

“He has paid dearly for his actions, and it will take a long time for him to recover from it,” Beaumont wrote.

If Breitnauer successfully complete’s his probation, his record will be expunged. 

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