By Jil Harmacinski
LAWRENCE — A jury today found former Lawrence School Superintendent Wilfredo Laboy guilty of five counts of fraud and embezzlement, and he was led away in handcuffs.
The Salem Superior Court jury also found him guilty of one count of possession of alcohol in his school department office.
He was found not guilty on three other charges of fraud and embezzlement.
The jury took just several hours to reach the verdicts following closing arguments this morning at the end of the nine-day trial.
Laboy's wife was crying loudly in the courtroom hallway after the verdicts were announced. He will be sentenced tomorrow at 9 a.m.
Laboy, 60, was charged with using public school resources for his personal gain, including having school employees drive around his grown son when he lost his license and pick up his sick grandchildren at school. He was also accused of having school workers meet with contractors, perform electrical work and repeatedly retrieve the garbage at his 106 Howe St. home in Methuen.
Witnesses for the prosecution also testified Laboy took a $1,500 cash kickback from a graphic designer and ordered school computer files with incriminating information be deleted as rumors of an investigation circulated.
Former school graphic designers testified Laboy had them work on outside jobs during school hours. The jobs included creating and printing brochures and other literature for the Association of Latino Administrators and Superintendents, an educational group for which Laboy served as president at one point during his tenure as superintendent. The graphics workers were also asked to print pizza menus and design a magnets for a pizza shop Laboy's son runs, witnesses said.
Laboy took the stand in his own defense on Wednesday, denying he ever took a $1,500 bribe and saying he had nothing to hide.
The 37-year educator said he never asked for any computer files to be deleted or for school workers to do outside design and printing jobs for free.
On the stand, Laboy did admit he had school employee drive around some of his family members on school time. But he said he did so because he was working so hard for the school district.
As for the trash removal, Laboy said he had school workers come get it because he often brought home confidential student and financial documents.
The trial spanned eight days, with jury selection starting on Monday, March 12, and opening arguments the following day.
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