Published in the November 10, 2016 edition
By BOB TUROSZ
NORTH READING — Eight months after a police investigation into drug use resulted in two arrests and nine resignations from the Department of Public Works, Town Administrator Michael Gilleberto announced an update on the town’s administrative investigation of the department, which he said was “separate and distinct” from any criminal investigation.
Gilleberto said the results of the administrative investigation found sufficient evidence to indicate certain, but not all, DPW employees were purchasing drugs and using drugs while working as well as evidence of contractor preferential treatment. Also, the evidence indicates violations of departmental policies by some employees, a failure or a lack of supervision and “an attempt to interfere” with the administrative investigation by a DPW employee or employees.
As a result of the investigation, an employee was transferred out of the DPW to another department. While the administrative investigation is concluded, Gilleberto stated, “We remain prepared to investigate further any potential future information or allegations that may come to light.”
As if to further signal the administrative investigation is over, the Selectmen voted Monday night to pay bills totaling $7,380 to APD Management, the firm the town hired to conduct the outside administrative investigation.
This is the text of the statement made by Gilleberto Monday night:
“As the Board and the community know, a DPW employee and a DPW contractor were arrested as a result of a North Reading Police Department criminal drug investigation on Friday, March 4, 2016. In addition to the criminal investigation, a separate administrative investigation was initiated at that time. By March 15, 2016, eight DPW employees and the Director had resigned. Both the criminal and administrative investigations have been ongoing since that time, and I offer the following as an update as to the status of the administrative investigation.
“As a result of numerous interviews of staff and the review of records conducted by the administrative investigator, the investigator found sufficient evidence indicating that certain, but not all, DPW employees were purchasing drugs and using drugs while working, and evidence of contractor preferential treatment. Additionally, the investigator found that a preponderance of the evidence indicates that there were violations of departmental policies by some DPW employees, a failure or lack of supervision within DPW, and that there was an attempt to interfere with the administrative investigation by a DPW employee or employees.
“The resignations in March negated the need to address discipline with many of the employees implicated. Additional appropriate disciplinary action based on the administrative investigation is being taken with the remaining employees as appropriate. Finally, as a result of the investigation, an employee has been transferred out of the DPW to another department. As these are matters of personnel, I am unable to comment further.
“Please note that the findings that I have identified are separate and distinct from the criminal investigation and its findings, if any. The findings of the administrative investigation will be forwarded to law enforcement. While the administrative investigation has been concluded, we remain prepared to investigate further any potential future information or allegations that may come to light.
“I wish to thank Chief Michael Murphy, Administrative Investigator Al Donovan, Finance Director Liz Rourke, Town Counsel Darren Klein, and the men and women of the Department of Public Works who cooperatively assisted in this investigation.
“The public’s patience over the past seven months is greatly appreciated. During this time, our streets have been plowed, sanded, and swept, potholes filled, fields maintained, grading performed, brush cut, and countless other day–to–day services have been provided. I wish to thank the remaining men and women of the Department of Public Works and the Town Hall for their hard work and dedication, and for their cooperation during the administrative investigation.
“As I have previously stated, it is critically important to note that the findings of this investigation are not indicative of town employees as a whole. The past seven months have shown that we are blessed with professional staff at all levels, and I thank them for their patience and understanding as we have conducted this review. I also thank Acting Director of Public Works Robert Moylan for his assistance over the summer, and I look forward to the future of the Department of Public Works under new Director Andrew Lafferty.”