Pubdate: Sat, 03 Mar 2007
Source: Times-Tribune, The (Scranton PA)
Address: 149 Penn Ave., Scranton, PA 18503
Fax: (570) 348-9135
Copyright: 2007
Author: Evan Goodenow
Bookmark: (Drug Test)
Bookmark: (Heroin)
Bookmark: (Methadone)
Bookmark: (Oxycontin/Oxycodone)


A Scranton police officer was arrested late Thursday after allegedly 
dealing drugs while on duty.

Officer Mark Conway, 36, of 1012 Maple St., was in uniform when 
Lackawanna County detectives found five OxyContin pills and 33 
methadone tablets in his car, according to authorities.

He was charged with possession of methadone, possession of OxyContin, 
unlawful delivery of OxyContin and two counts of using a telephone 
for a drug transaction, First Assistant District Attorney Eugene M. 
Talerico Jr. said.

He was arraigned and released on a $25,000 bond.

According to an affidavit:

On Wednesday, an informant tipped authorities that Officer Conway had 
been addicted to heroin for more than a year and that the informant 
had bought heroin for him about 10 times.

The informant said he agreed to buy Officer Conway $160 worth of 
heroin from a dealer in the 1700 block of Linden Street. The dealer 
refused to sell after noticing Officer Conway's police jacket in the 
back seat of his car, the affidavit states.

In a taped phone call Thursday, a second informant discussed having 
Officer Conway deliver $780 worth of OxyContin and methadone to the informant.

Officer Conway -- who joined the Police Department April 19, 2005, 
and earned $40,809 per year -- is a community police officer whose 
primary duties involve walking a beat and interacting with the 
public. He has been suspended without pay, city Public Safety 
Director Ray Hayes said.

Mr. Hayes said the timing of the arrest was ironic, coming the same 
day other officers were honored for trying to save 3-year-old Xander 
Browning, who died in a fire last week.

"Some 12 hours later, we were dealing with a different type of police 
behavior, criminal behavior, which also brought notoriety accompanied 
by shame and dishonor," Mr. Hayes said. "The second incident will be 
dealt with as was the first, in a decisive, timely, public manner."

Mr. Hayes said the Police Department will conduct an internal 
investigation and review its drug detection policies. Police officers 
are not tested randomly for drug use, but Mr. Hayes said the city is 
attempting make random drug testing part of the next police contract.

Mr. Talerico said authorities do not believe the seized drugs came 
from the Police Department evidence room. The investigation is 
continuing but no other police officers "are implicated or involved 
either directly or indirectly," he said.

Police Chief David Elliot refused to comment on Officer Conway, but 
said drug addiction affects people from all walks of life.

"No one's immune from it," he said.

Recovering heroin addict Scott Trapper, Mr. Conway's next-door 
neighbor, said Officer Conway helped him get clean, so it hurt to 
hear the officer was charged with dealing drugs.

"He went out of his way to help me," Mr. Trapper said.

Mr. Trapper said when Officer Conway tried to get him help for his 
addiction in 2004, he rejected the overture, but Officer Conway, 36, persisted.

Mr. Trapper, 26, said he has known Officer Conway for 19 years. He 
said Officer Conway struggled with alcoholism and drug addiction as 
young man but got clean about 10 years ago.

"He turned his life around, and I couldn't believe it when he became 
an officer," Mr. Trapper said. "Just looking at how he turned his 
life around, that's more or less what got me, one of the major steps 
that got me into rehab."

Louise Coleman, Mr. Trapper's grandmother, said she has known Officer 
Conway since he was "a little-bitty" boy and was shocked to hear of his arrest.

"Mark? Oh, come on," she said. "Oh, Lord.

"He's a good kid. He's very polite," Ms. Coleman said before breaking 
into tears. "He has a very nice way about him."

Efforts to reach Officer Conway were unsuccessful Friday.

Dawn Conway, his mother, denied her son has a drug addiction, but 
refused to further comment.

Mr. Trapper said the last time he spoke at length to Officer Conway 
was in October when Officer Conway congratulated him on staying clean.

Mr. Trapper said he hopes for the best for Mr. Conway and asked 
people not to judge him.

"He's still a great guy," Mr. Trapper said. "He wanted to give me a 
life that was better to live. He knew I didn't have to suffer like 
that. He went through it."