BOSTON — Mayor William Lantigua's ex-chief of staff Leonard Degnan spent nearly four hours inside a federal courthouse yesterday where a grand jury is weighing criminal evidence against Lantigua and others in his administration.
Degnan, who resigned abruptly last month, and his lawyer James Landy refused to say whether Degnan was a witness or target of the federal grand jury as they left the John Joseph Moakley courthouse. Degnan refused to say what information he provided jurors.
Also seen at the courthouse were Lawrence's former Department of Public Works director Frank McCann and towing company owner Frank Coady. Coady's Towing is one of four Lawrence businesses with alternating weekly towing privileges in the city.
A law-enforcement official said one aspect the federal grand jury is investigating is whether city vehicles have been shipped to Lantigua's native Dominican Republic.
Coady left the courthouse less than an hour after he arrived. In a brief interview, Coady said he was assured he was not the target of the investigation and declined further comment. McCann would only say he was there to "pick up something."
Sources previously said there is a multi-jurisdictional investigation into Lantigua and his administration looking at allegations of narcotics, weapons, bid-rigging, and suspicious out-of-state travel.
Subpoenas also went out from the state Office of Campaign and Political Finance in recent weeks as part of an investigation into Lantigua's campaign fund-raising efforts. Many city clubs received subpoenas, along with Salvatore's restaurant, The Eagle-Tribune has reported.
Lantigua did not return calls for comment. His acting chief of staff Patrick Blanchette also did not return a call for comment.
In previous interviews, the mayor has maintained his innocence and said he has not broken any laws. In recent media interviews, he encouraged local, state and federal agencies to investigate him.
Degnan, flanked by Landy, was allowed to enter and leave the courthouse through the back entrance yesterday. However, former Massachusetts Speaker of the House Salvatore DiMasi, who is currently on trial for illegally steering state contracts and taking kickbacks, and his wife, entered and left the federal courthouse through the front door.
Degnan smiled as he walked away from the courthouse at 1:30 p.m.
"Make sure you put in a good one of me," Degnan told an Eagle-Tribune photographer.
Degnan abruptly quit as Lantigua's chief of staff May 23. At the time, he said he planned to resign once the city had a balanced budget in place. The city's $251 million budget has yet to be passed by the City Council.
Degnan, who said he loved Lantigua and described him as a "best friend," worked as chief of staff for 17 months. He and his wife Carla, own a Salem Street insurance agency. Degnan also served as interim mayor in the 1990s.
McCann, a 41-year city employee, retired in June 2010, about six months after Lantigua was sworn into office.
A federal grand jury consists of 23 people, who sit, in secrecy, to hear evidence concerning alleged crimes. The jurors are told they will serve 18 months and meet once weekly to weigh evidence, according to information posted on the federal court website.