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City DPW worker held in heroin case

Ordered detained on $15,000 bail

Kenneth Clark appeared at an arraignment at Dorchester District Court.

Chitose Suzuki/Pool Photo

Kenneth Clark appeared at an arraignment at Dorchester District Court.

A Boston public works employee accused of dealing heroin out of a city-owned truck was ordered held on $15,000 bail Monday despite his lawyer’s arguments that the man was just picking up trash, not dealing drugs, when police arrested him last week.

Kenneth Clark, 49, whose job involves street sweeping and disposal of dead animals, pleaded not guilty in Dorchester District Court to a charge of distribution of Class A drugs.

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Prosecutor Michael Callahan read from a police report to describe for Judge Serge Georges how officers followed Clark as he drove along his work route Friday. They began watching him early in the morning when he arrived at a city work lot and saw him enter and exit his truck multiple times throughout the morning.

Near River Street and Cummins Highway, police said, Clark walked with a woman for a short distance before departing. Officers followed him from the scene, while two other officers approached the woman. In her hand, they found a bag of heroin wrapped in the finger of a blue rubber glove. Officers took Clark into custody and found about $1,000, plastic bags, and blue gloves, authorities said.

On Monday, Callahan asked the judge to hold Clark on $75,000 bail, noting that he served time in prison for a 1993 Suffolk County conviction on a charge of assault with intent to kill.

“He does have a record of violence and drugs,” Callahan said, mentioning drug-related charges pending against Clark in Wrentham District Court. In early June, Clark was charged there with possession of heroin and operating a motor vehicle with a suspended license.

Michael Verseckes, a spokesman for the Massachusetts Department of Transportation, said Clark’s license was suspended April 29 after he racked up three surchargeable driving incidents in a period of less than two years. His license was reinstated July 3, but he continued to work for the city during the time his license was suspended, said Kate Norton, a spokeswoman for Mayor Martin J. Walsh.

“The city of Boston is only notified of a suspended license if the driver is a part of our pool of those with commercial driver’s licenses, which allows them to drive certain heavier machinery, as opposed to regular cars and trucks,” Norton said in a prepared statement. “Clark was not a part of that pool, and, upon regular license checks, provided a physical driver’s license, which the City believed to be valid.”

Verseckes said Clark’s license was also suspended from July 8, 1993, until Feb. 23, 1998, after he was found guilty of possession of a Class B substance, a designation that includes fentanyl, opium, and methadone. It was suspended again between June 30, 2002, and Sept. 13, 2011, for another drug charge, he said.

Clark began working for the Public Works Department on Nov. 7, 2011, according to Norton. She said a city investigation and hearing are pending, and the mayor’s office has recommended Clark be fired.

Clark’s lawyer, Courtney C. Linnehan, said most of her client’s offenses are old, and Clark denies the charges against him now. She said Clark, who stood next to her and blocked his face with a hat as he approached the bench, routinely uses gloves and bags to pick up trash as part of his job with the city.

“There is nothing that police observed in my opinion that is not consistent with my client’s employment,” Linnehan said.

Zachary T. Sampson can be reached at zachary.sampson@globe.com.
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