North Reading employee arrested
Man charged in drug probe
By Mina Corpuz
Globe Correspondent

A North Reading public works employee has been arrested and several others are on administrative leave amid a “wide-ranging’’ investigation into the use of prescription opioid painkillers, local police said Monday.

The moves Friday came as police arrested a man suspected of dealing oxycodone and marijuana. John McNeil, 56, of North Reading, allegedly had drugs, paraphernalia, and cash at his house.

As part of the investigation, police also arrested Scott McDonough, 42, of Methuen. McDonough is an employee of the North Reading Department of Public Works and is accused of possessing oxycodone and being a part of a conspiracy to violate drug laws.

McDonough and several other public works employees were placed on leave, town administrator Michael P. Gilleberto said. North Reading also will carry out an internal investigation, he said.

“We will not tolerate illegal drug use by any town employee,’’ Gilleberto said in the statement. “We are conducting a full and thorough investigation.’’

Additional charges could follow, officials said.

McNeil and McDonough were arraigned Monday in Woburn District Court, said Liz Vlock, a spokeswoman for Middlesex District Attorney Marian T. Ryan.

McNeil was charged with three counts of possession with intent to distribute, two counts of possession, and distribution, Vlock said. McDonough is facing a possession charge, she said.

Both men were released on cash bail, $200 for McDonough and $250 for McNeil, Vlock said.

They are due back in court May 6.

Police Chief Michael P. Murphy said the case shows how seriously his department takes drug allegations.

“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,’’ he said.

Mina Corpuz can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @mlcorpuz.