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August 27, 2013

AG sues Mayor Lantigua over alleged campaign finance violations

Lawrence Mayor William Lantigua is being sued by the state over alleged violations of campaign finance law violations, including accepting several thousands of dollars in potentially illegal cash and corporate contributions.

The suit was filed today in Suffolk Superior Court in Boston, Attorney General Martha Coakley and the Office of Campaign and Political Finance announced.

Among the allegations:

— During his first run for mayor, between 2008 and to 2010, Lantigua accepted 16 cashier’s checks or money orders worth more than $50 each, a potential violation of state law.

— In 2009, Lantigua or his campaign committee accepted more than $14,000 in potentially illegal cash contributions but failed to keep accurate accounts of the 22 individual deposits.

— Also in 2009, Lantigua received or failed to report four potentially illegal contributions from Rumbo Newspaper in the form of advertisements.

— In 2010, the mayor received or failed to report close to $5,000 in contributions from 60 Island Street, L.L.C. in the form of food and beverage and room rental fees.

— During 2009, at Lantigua failed to report nearly $20,000 worth of campaign expenditures, including a payment of more than $9,000 to Costa Eagle Radio for ads. Costa Eagle is partly owned by The Eagle-Tribune.

— During the 2009 campaign, Lantigua allowed Methuen Police Officer Elvin Alarcon to serve as his campaign finance officer and City Hall employee Lorenza Ortega as treasurer. State campaign finance laws prohibit public employees from soliciting or receiving contributions for candidate for public office.

— Lantigua failed to meet deadlines for three campaign finance reports in 2009, even after agreeing to an "enhanced reporting schedule" due to past violations. "In addition to being filed late, all three (2009 reports) were also inaccurate, incomplete or unsigned," the attorney general's statement said.

In January this year, Coakley and OCPF sued Lantigua for failing to file a 2011 campaign finance report. Lantigua later filed the report and paid a $5,000 civil fine.

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