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Kenmore replaces police chief arrested on drug charge

The Village of Kenmore has named a new police chief to replace Peter Breitnauer, who resigned 10 days after his arrest on a federal drug charge.

The Village Board, at its Oct. 16 meeting, promoted Kenmore Police Capt. T.J. Phillips to the $112,000-a-year job after accepting Breitnauer's resignation at the same meeting, said Clerk/Treasurer Kathleen Johnson.

Breitnauer, a 34-year Kenmore police veteran who had served as chief since 2012, submitted his resignation letter Oct. 15. "I want to apologize to the mayor, Village Board and residents of the Village of Kenmore for the embarrassment," he wrote. He had been on administrative leave since his Oct. 5 arrest, with Phillips filling in as acting chief.

Breitnauer, 68, is charged with possession of hydrocodone, a misdemeanor that carries a maximum penalty of one year in prison and a $100,000 fine.

FBI agents confronted Breitnauer at police headquarters, where he admitted taking hydrocodone pills from a community drop-off box in the building, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office. Breitnauer said he was addicted to hydrocodone, a powerful opioid, and showed the agents a closet in his office where he had hidden more than 100 hydrocodone pills, the office reported.

Investigators have not said how long Breitnauer was stealing from the drop box or how authorities learned of it.

Breitnauer initially appeared before U.S. Magistrate Judge H. Kenneth Schroeder and was released on conditions.

'An all too familiar story,' says Kenmore police chief's lawyer

Breitnauer's attorney, Thomas J. Eoannou, declined comment on the case, but first-time misdemeanor offenders typically are given the chance to have a charge dismissed on the condition the defendant stay out of trouble for a set period of time.

Breitnauer is currently in Germany on a prepaid trip and must hand over his passport to the district court clerk upon his return next week.

Breitnauer's resignation and Phillips' promotion were not on the brief agenda posted online for the board meeting. Johnson said that's because the agenda was posted the Friday before the meeting and Breitnauer resigned the day before the meeting.

Phillips, 44, a Kenmore resident, joined the village police force in 1999 and was promoted to lieutenant in 2007. He was named captain in 2013. The village doesn't have an assistant chief.

Phillips in March took the civil service exam for police chief, and was one of two candidates who qualified for the position based on their exam scores, officials said.

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