---- — SALEM, Mass. — A silent and smiling Mayor William Lantigua arrived minutes ago at Essex County Superior Court, where he is scheduled to appear before a grand jury investigating his administration.
Lantigua arrived in a silver Range Rover with his lawyer Jeffery Denner. Both refused to answer questions as they went into the building.
Lantigua was served with subpoena compelling him to appear before the grand jury as he disembarked a plane at Logan International Airport Monday night. Lantigua was returning from an extended stay in the Dominican Republic. He refused to answer questions about the subpoena last night after he appeared before the City Council to present his proposed budget for the fiscal year beginning July 1.
There are two grand juries — one state and the other federal — currently weighing charges against Lantigua and members of his administration. Some of the allegations being investigated include bid-rigging, suspicious out-of-state travel, illegal swapping of city-owned cars, corruption and campaign finance violations.
Lantigua is to appear this afternoon at Salem Superior Court to face the state grand jury. Already, those jurors have indicted two of his top aides — Deputy Police Chief Melix Bonilla and Lantigua's former chief of staff Leonard Degnan. Both men were arraigned last Sept 12 on charges of bribery, extortion and conspiracy.
The charges stem from Bonilla’s alleged swap of 13 city-owned vehicles for four Chevrolets and Degnan’s alleged pressure on the city’s trash hauler to donate a truck to Lantigua’s native Dominican Republic.
Last week, investigators turned their focus to Lantigua's campaign photographer Justo Garcia who works as an attendant at the city-owned Museum Square parking garage. The investigation is focused on tens of thousands of dollars possibly missing from the garage till. Garcia was questioned by authorities last week. In an interview with The Eagle-Tribune last week, Garcia denied any wrongdoing.