Published in the March 10, 2016 edition

NORTH READING — Police Chief Michael P. Murphy announced that the North Reading Police Department arrested a local man after an investigation into alleged dealing of prescription painkillers (opioids) and other drugs. As part of the investigation, police also arrested an employee of the North Reading Department of Public Works and charged him with drug possession.

John McNeil, age 56, of 10 Greene St. was arrested on Friday, March 4 and charged with:

• Conspiracy to Violate the Drug Laws.

• Possession of a Class B Substance (Oxycodone) (Four Counts).

• Possession of a Class B Substance (Oxycodone) with Intent to Distribute (Two Counts).

• Possession of a Class C Substance.

• Possession of a Class C Substance with Intent to Distribute.

• Possession of a Class D Substance with Intent to Distribute (Marijuana).

Additionally, DPW employee Scott McDonough, age 42, of Methuen was arrested on Friday and charged with Conspiracy to Violate Drug Laws and Possession of a Class B Substance (oxycodone).

Last month, North Reading Police Detectives opened an investigation. Police said the investigation led them to McNeil’s home, where a quantity of drugs, paraphernalia and cash was found and the suspect was taken into custody.

“The drug epidemic is present in every community and in North Reading, we will continue to aggressively pursue those who sell and distribute these poisons in our community,” Chief Murphy said. “I am very pleased with the work of our officers, especially Lt. Detective Thomas Romeo, Detective Thomas Hatch, Detective Scott Tilton and Detective Sean O’Leary.”

The charges against McDonough come as part of a wide-ranging North Reading Police Department investigation and additional charges may be following, Police said.

According to Town Administrator Michael P. Gilleberto, McDonough and several other DPW employees have been placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of the police investigation and an internal investigation by the Town of North Reading.

“I have been made aware of the police investigation and subsequent arrest of one of our Department of Public Works Employees. We will not tolerate illegal drug use by any town employee,” Town Administrator Gilleberto said.  “We are conducting a full and thorough investigation.”

Monday night, Gilleberto said: “A North Reading Police Department investigation led to two arrests, including the arrest of a town employee and the placement of additional DPW employees on administrative leave while a criminal and administrative investigation is conducted. Because this an ongoing investigation, my ability to comment is restricted. I will continue to keep the community updated as circumstances warrant. This activity is not representative of the overall good work of our many dedicated town employees.”

McNeil and McDonough were arraigned on Monday at Woburn District Court. Both men were released on cash bail – $250 for McNeil and $200 for McDonough. They are due back in court on May 2.