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By Laurel J. Sweet
Tuesday, September 30, 2008

A German shepherd employed by the Essex County Sheriff's Department to keep inmates in line executed a daring escape from his handler's home Thursday night, only to be found hours later among the doglegs at the Beverly Golf and Tennis Club.
Club general manager Jane Ash arrived at work Friday morning to find Urek "hanging around the veranda" and teed off staffers sitting and staying indoors.
"He was a pretty ominous-looking character," Ash said. "I assume he had tags, but no one wanted to get close enough to look."
No one was hurt by the fugitive fido, but Urek, who is trained to attack on command, and K-9 officer Sgt. Mark O'Brien are "at the moment, at least," no longer partners, said Paul Fleming, spokesman for Sheriff Frank Cousins Jr.
"There's an investigation going on into how the dog broke out," Fleming said.
Once O'Brien, 36, discovered the restless Urek missing, Fleming said area police were notified. The sheriff's department located the dog at the golf course less than a mile from his home.
Meanwhile, another employee of Cousins', John Bachta, 37, of Methuen, was ordered to enter a 30-day drug treatment program and surrender his firearms yesterday after pleading not guilty to heroin possession.
Bachta was busted Saturday in a sting by state police assigned to Middlesex District Attorney Gerard T. Leone Jr.'s office, but Leone's spokesman Corey Welford stressed yesterday, "We have no evidence that he was using his position in any way to purchase the drugs."

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Essex Sheriff Sgt. Arrested On Heroin Charge

METHUEN - A 15-year veteran of the Essex County Sheriff's Department was put on unpaid administrative leave after his arrest Saturday on a heroin possession charge, sheriff's department spokesman Paul Fleming said yesterday.
John Bachta, 37, of Methuen was arrested about 12:25 p.m., near 85 Main St., in Tewksbury and was charged with a single count of possession of heroin.
He was later released on bail for arraignment in Lowell District Court.
"As soon as this department received information of the arrest, Mr. Bachta was placed on unpaid administrative leave pending the outcome of an internal investigation that is ongoing at this time," Fleming said.
Bachta began his career with the sheriff's department in May 1993 as a corrections officer, Fleming said.
He was promoted to sergeant in September 1999, and began working in the department's security and investigations unit in July 2001, Fleming said.
"He has had no disciplinary record during his tenure here," Fleming said.
Bachta is the son of retired Lawrence police Deputy Chief Stanley Bachta.
Tewksbury police did not return a phone call seeking comment for this story.
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