EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

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September 25, 2012

Another Lawrence police officer indicted

LAWRENCE 
— Lawrence Police Officer P.J. Lopez has been indicted in federal court on charges of bribery, making false statements to a federal agent, and obstruction of justice.

The charges arise from his dealings with an unnamed towing company in Lawrence. Prosecutors allege Lopez would make arrangements with the company to have cars he ticketed towed in exchange for a "stream of benefits," including a $4,000 snow plow. Lopez then lied to a federal agent, saying he reimbursed the company in cash for the plow and produced a bogus receipt for it, the indictment alleges.

Lawrence does business with four towing companies and each company is assigned a week to tow cars for the police department. The indictment alleges Lopez would skirt the rotation by calling the unnamed company directly in exchange for the "benefits."

Lopez' home was raided by FBI agents last August. He was placed on leave by police Chief John Romero last Wednesday. Lopez has been a patrolman with the department since 1997.

The indictment comes on the heels of state indictments handed down against Deputy Police Chief Melix Bonilla, Mayor William Lantigua's campaign manager during the 2009 election season. Bonilla was suspended indefinitely with pay two weeks ago after his indictment on charges of extortion, bribery and conspiracy.

Bonilla is accused of swapping 13 city-owned vehicles for four Chevrolets with a Lantigua friend, a deal that lost $30,000 for the city.

The indictments do not mention Lantigua's name.

More on this story on this develops.

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