Published in the March 17, 2016 edition


NORTH READING — The town and police investigation into last week’s charges that some DPW employees illegally purchased prescription painkillers (opioids) and other drugs is continuing and ongoing, Town Administrator Michael Gilleberto said on Monday.

Since last week, there have been an additional six resignations from the DPW staff, bringing to nine the number of total resignations. That includes former DPW Director Dick Carnevale, who was not implicated in the events, but resigned because the situation happened on his watch. Carnevale was DPW Director since 2009.

With the exception of Carnevale, the remaining eight DPW employees who resigned were line or supervisory employees, Gilleberto said.

One employee remains on administrative leave.

Last week, the North Reading police announced that as the result of an investigation, John McNeil, 10 Greene St., was arrested on charges of dealing prescription painkillers and other drugs. Additionally, Scott McDonough, 42, of Methuen, was arrested and charged with possession of a Class B Substance, oxycodone. 

According to town records, McDonough is a DPW working foreman and was budgeted to make $60,800 in fiscal 2017.

According to published reports, McNeil’s arrest was the result of a lengthy North Reading and federal investigation into the use of prescription painkillers by employees in the department. Both men were arraigned in Woburn District Court and pleaded not guilty and were released on cash bail and are due back in court on May 2.

The loss of 10 employees out of the 25-man DPW work force represents a 40 percent loss but Gilleberto said the department is picking up the slack.

“The work of the department is continuing with the remaining employees who have stepped up to meet the needs of the community as best they can,” he said.

As an example he gave the case this week of two water system repairs that had to take place at the same time. The assigned crews made the repairs with the assistance of outside contracted services.

As for the spring clean up that normally keeps the department busy this year, Gilleberto said it will go forward.

“We’re working on an operating schedule for the next four to eight weeks to address the spring clean up services and schedule. Our options include additional reliance on contracted services and offers of assistance from neighboring communities,” she said.

Since last Monday, Town Engineer Michael Soraghan has been the acting Director of the Public Works Department. Soraghan, Water Superintendent Mark Clark and acting general foreman Chris Deming will be asked to help present next year’s DPW budget to the Selectmen on March 24.

The DPW services will continue, Gilleberto said. “We are looking to continue DPW services with our remaining employees despite the obvious manpower issues. The remaining DPW employees are stepping forward to fill in the gaps and get the job done.”

In the meantime, the town is in the early stages of getting a job description and posting together to advertise the position of DPW Director, he said.

Gilleberto said the events of the past week are not an accurate reflection of the town or its Department of Public Works.

“North Reading and its DPW are better than this,” he said.