HAVERHILL — James Jajuga threw Mayor James Fiorentini under the bus last night, and the mayor appeared to be a willing scapegoat.
Jajuga, a Methuen city councilor and former state senator, is at the center of a controversy involving a letter that former Haverhill City Council President Robert Scatamacchia signed in November on behalf of a company that wants to operate a medical marijuana dispensary in Haverhill.
Jajuga, who until recently worked for the proposed dispensary operator Healthy Pharms Inc., initially asked Fiorentini to sign the letter, but the mayor refused. Instead, the mayor had his aide David Van Dam call Scatamacchia and ask him to come to the mayor’s office to sign the letter, which Scatamacchia agreed to do.
Last night, Scatamacchia said he was tricked into signing the letter, which he said he did not realize would be used to help Healthy Pharms win a provisional state license for a dispensary.
Jajuga sat in attendance for last night’s three hour meeting, but he did not address the council. Jajuga sat with a man who refused to identify himself to a reporter.
After the meeting was over, Jajuga told a reporter outside the room that the letter he brought to Fiorentini’s office was written by Healthy Pharms’ attorney, but that the mayor re-wrote it and then had Scatamacchia sign it.
“It’s crystal clear,” Jajuga said. “You heard the mayor. He said he wrote the letter. He said he wasn’t under duress and that he wasn’t duped.”
The letter, which stated the city does not oppose a dispensary in the city, scored Healthy Pharms points in a state evaluation process that was key to the company being granted a provisional license for a dispensary on Hale Street near the city’s downtown.
Scatamacchia said last night that he had no idea the letter was to become part of the company’s application and would be used to bolster its case for a dispensary license. The letter was signed by Scatamacchia on behalf of the full council, but other councilors said they knew nothing about it and did not agree with it.