Ex-Aide To Lawrence Mayor, Official Arraigned
SALEM, Mass. — Two associates of Lawrence Mayor William Lantigua have pleaded not guilty to corruption charges.
The mayor’s former chief of staff, Leonard Degnan, and Deputy Police Chief Melix Bonilla appeared Wednesday in Salem Superior Court. Judge John Lu released them on personal recognizance and ordered to surrender their passports and return to court Nov. 8.
Neither man nor their attorneys had comment as they left the hearing. Bonilla said Tuesday he’s done nothing wrong.
Charges against Degnan include solicitation of a bribe, extortion and conspiracy. Prosecutors say he pressured a city trash contractor to donate a truck to Lantigua’s native Dominican Republic.
Charges against Bonilla, the mayor’s 2009 campaign manager, include fraudulent conversion of city property, conspiracy and extortion. Prosecutors say he swapped 13 vehicles the city seized in drug busts to a car dealer with close ties to Lantigua. The state inspector general says the deal for four cars cost the city $30,000. Bonilla has been relieved of his police department duties.
Lantigua issued a statement Wednesday saying the charges “are very serious” and are “allegations only.”
“I trust the justice system will now take its rightful course,” he said.