Officer charged with selling drugs while on duty


First Posted: 8/3/2013

The FBI has charged a Hughestown police officer with selling prescription drugs while on duty and in uniform.

Robert F. Evans Jr., a Hughestown borough police officer for at least the past 10 years, was arrested without incident Friday morning and charged in U.S. District Court in the Middle District of Pennsylvania with the distribution of Oxycodone, the FBI said in a press release.

Evans allegedly admitted to the drug sales as well as to providing prescription pills to a Dupont police officer, whom he described as “a prescription pill addict.”

According to an affidavit attached to the criminal complaint filed against Evans:

FBI Agent Joseph Noone on July 26 interviewed a man named John Nat, who told him Evans sold Oxycodone, Percocet, Vicodin and other prescription drugs to him on a weekly basis for the past two years at a cost of $30 to $60 a pill.

Nat told Noone the alleged deals occurred at a car wash on Foote Avenue in Duryea and at the Hughestown police station, and that most of the buys occurred at times when Evans was on duty, in full uniform with a firearm at his side and driving a marked borough police vehicle.

Noone stated in the affidavit that he had Nat call Evans to arrange a drug buy during a recorded phone call that same day, and Evans asked Nat: “Why are you calling me? … What about the wife? … What about the phone records? … The phone records are going to get us into trouble.”

Nat told Evans he was hurting for pills and everything would be all right. Evans said he had 15 pills and would need the money by 5 p.m. But the deal fell through because Nat couldn’t meet Evans after Evans was done working that day.

During another recorded phone call, Nat and Evans set up a drug buy on the afternoon of July 29. They met at the car wash in Duryea, where Nat allegedly gave Evans $100 for six or seven pills and agreed to meet at 8 p.m. in the Kmart parking lot in Pittston Township after Evans got the pills. Nat showed up at 8 p.m. and called Evans several times, but Evans did not answer.

At 8:20 p.m., Noone directed Nat to leave and to contact him if he heard from Evans. At about 8:30 p.m., Noone and FBI Task Force Officer Daniel Mimnaugh saw Evans drive slowly through the Kmart parking lot and stop at Redner’s Warehouse Market. They approached Evans and began to interview him, and Evans allegedly told them: “I want to cooperate.”

‘Dealer with a gun’

Evans admitted to distributing Oxycodone to Nat at least 12 times over the past year, according to the affidavit. He said he had a doctor’s prescription for the pills and he also bought Oxycodone from an associate named Sid Lewis.

“In the big picture, yes, he is a drug dealer, same with me,” Evans told the agents, referring to Lewis and himself. “I dealt pills with a gun on my hip.”

Evans also told the agents he obtained pills from John Ames, giving Ames rides to Wilkes-Barre in his police car so Ames could buy the drugs at a residence on River Street.

In a July 29 interview, Lewis allegedly admitted to the agents that he sold drugs to Evans for redistribution to others and that Evans and he had been friends since childhood. He said they had both obtained pills from a man named Billy Tucker, but that Tucker stopped providing pills to Evans because Evans owed him money. So Evans went through Lewis to get pills from Tucker.

In an Aug. 1 interview, said Noone, Evans told him that Evans had been reinstated as a police officer on Aug. 9, 2012.

Evans also stated that he provided Dupont Borough Police Officer Kenneth Shotwell with Oxycodone pills 25 times, with Shotwell receiving four or more pills on each occasion. Evans told the FBI that Shotwell is a prescription pill addict and has had a problem with pills for years, court papers state.

In addition to being police officers, Shotwell and Evans were Avoca emergency services personnel in September 2011, when, according to The Times Leader’s archives, they came to the aid of Dupont police Sgt. John Saranchuk when he was struggling with a suspect. The suspect took Saranchuk’s gun and tried to shoot him, before eventually being subdued and arrested.

Now Dupont’s acting police chief, Saranchuk said on Friday that he was aware of the charge against Evans and the accusation against Shotwell. He said Shotwell is still a police officer with Dupont but declined further comment.

No one other than Evans has been charged in this investigation.

Asked whether additional arrests were pending, FBI spokeswoman Carrie Adamowski said she can’t comment on anything pertaining to open investigations.

Evans’ current status is unclear. The FBI press release did not indicate if he was jailed or released after his 1 p.m. appearance in federal court on Friday. Adamowski referred a reporter to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for bail/custody matters, and attempts to reach that office were unsuccessful.

Hughestown Police Chief Steve Golya could not be reached for comment. Neither Hughestown Mayor Paul Hindmarsh nor Council President Wayne Quick returned calls seeking comment.

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