Former Bradford interim fire chief Richard Zmuda has been charged with strangulation for an alleged domestic assault at his Smethport residence.
Zmuda, 46, is charged with strangulation, a second-degree felony; simple assault and criminal mischief, second-degree misdemeanors; and harassment, a summary offense.
According to the criminal complaint, about 9 p.m. Monday, state police responded to a reported domestic incident, where the victim had been transported to UPMC Cole for medical treatment. She told police that Zmuda was looking for his pager “and wanted her out.” She tossed his pager to him, and a physical altercation ensued. She said Zmuda dragged her by the hood of her sweatshirt across the floor and threw her against a screen door. He then dragged her across the room and threw her on the bed, struck her twice with an open hand and tightened her sweatshirt around her neck, causing her to have trouble breathing, the complaint alleged.
Juveniles were present in the home, and attempted to get Zmuda to stop. When he stopped, he told one of the juveniles “they should have let him kill her, it would have helped society,” the complaint alleged.
During the course of the altercation, Zmuda allegedly threw the victim’s phone, causing damage, the complaint stated.
Zmuda was arraigned early Tuesday before on-call District Judge Rich Luther and remanded to jail in lieu of $35,000 bail. A preliminary hearing has been scheduled for Aug. 9 before District Judge Bill Todd.
This is not Zmuda’s first brush with the law.
Zmuda served with the Bradford City Fire Department for 15 years, and as interim fire chief in Bradford for 3 months in 2015, then as fire chief in North Fond du Lac, Wis., before theft allegations in Bradford brought him back to McKean County. Zmuda had been charged with taking money from an older relative, and was ultimately sentenced to one year of probation and 50 hours of community service for the theft charge in 2016.
He is now a member of the Smethport Fire Department and a secretary of the board of Phoenix EMS.