Ex-aide to Lawrence mayor, official are indicted
SALEM, Mass. (WHDH) -- Bribery, extortion and conspiracy are just some of the charges two political allies of Lawrence Mayor William Lantigua faced in court on Wednesday.
The mayor’s former chief of staff, Leonard Degnan, and Deputy Police Chief Melix Bonilla were indicted Tuesday in what prosecutors said is an ongoing corruption investigation.
The indictments against Degnan say he bullied a trash business into changing its contract with the city. Bonilla, who headed up the mayor’s campaign, is accused of using his clout to pressure a local car dealership and a fellow police officer.
Now, City Counselor Marc Laplante is pressuring Lantigua -- the man who hired Degnan and Bonilla -- to resign.
“It’s been an insult upon insult to the citizens of the city of Lawrence and at some point we have to say enough is enough,” said Laplante.
The indictments have Lawrence residents embarrassed and demanding Lantigua’s resignation as well.
“These are [not nobodies] that are being indicted today. These are the right-hand men of William Lantigua…It is a sad, sad day for the city of Lawrence,” said Johny Castillo, a Lawrence resident.
Lantigua released a statement on Wednesday afternoon saying: “The indictments issued yesterday by Essex County District Attorney’s office are very serious. I trust the justice system will now take its rightful course. As indicated by authorities, indictments are allegations only and Melix and Lenny are presumed innocent until proven guilty. I will continue serving the residents and perform my duties as Mayor of the Great City of Lawrence.”
Degnan and Bonilla were released on personal recognizance and ordered to surrender their passports. They did not comment as they left court on Wednesday.