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Former Nevada correctional officer, former Sparks Fire chief face steroid-related felony charges

A red, orange and blue decal on the side of a white pickup truck reads, “City of Sparks Fire Department.”
Lucia Starbuck
KUNR Public Radio

Update, published Monday, Dec. 12, at 5:29 p.m. PT.

The Nevada attorney general has filed a criminal complaint against Lance Forrester, a former Nevada correctional officer, and Mark Lawson, a former Sparks Fire Department chief.

Forrester worked at the Nevada Department of Corrections until July 2021, and the department says it has “no comment in response to his charges.”

The complaint alleges both men possessed steroids with the intent to sell. They are both facing four separate felony drug charges from 2020 and 2021.

KUNR previously reported the charges included gang enhancement, which isn’t accurate. According to the attorney general’s office, there was a coding error in the original court documents.

Update, published Friday, Dec. 9, at 5:04 p.m. PT.

Former Sparks Fire Department Chief Mark Lawson is facing four drug-related felony charges.

Lawson only served as chief for one week before city manager Neil Krutz asked him to resign on Monday, Dec. 5, as first reported by KRNV.

Lawson is charged with possession of a controlled substance, including one count of a schedule I or II controlled substance less than 14 grams and one count ranging from 14 to 28 grams, possession with intent to sell, and conspiracy to violate the Uniform Controlled Substance Act. The charges were filed with the Sparks Justice Court on Friday.

The charges also include gang enhancement and date back to 2020 and 2021. Lawson wasn’t arrested but was issued a summons. If he doesn’t appear in court, there will be a warrant for his arrest.

The City of Sparks declined to comment on the case, but officials say they’re evaluating the next steps for hiring a new chief. Lawson has no relation to Sparks Mayor Ed Lawson.

Original story, published Tuesday, Dec. 6, at 2:35 p.m. PT.

The City of Sparks has asked its new Sparks Fire Department chief to resign within a week of creating the contract.

In an internal video to Sparks Fire Department employees first published by KRNV, city manager Neil Krutz said the city became aware that “serious criminal charges” were about to be filed against its new fire chief, Mark Lawson. He did not specify the charges and said he asked for and received Lawson’s resignation Monday morning.

Lawson was previously employed by the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, known as CAL FIRE. Jim Reid, the former Sparks Fire chief, received a vote of no confidence from the Sparks Firefighters union in March and later left the department.

The city hasn't announced its next steps for filling the vacancy.

Lucia Starbuck is an award-winning political journalist and the host of KUNR’s monthly show Purple Politics Nevada. She is passionate about reporting during election season, attending community events, and talking to people about the issues that matter most to them.
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