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Mayor Lantigua

September 27, 2011

Man with ties to Lantigua charged in head-on crash

SALEM — A Marblehead man who was already awaiting trial on drunken-driving charges from an arrest last spring is now being held without bail, charged with causing a head-on collision with a minivan while driving drunk on Sunday afternoon, Salem police said.

The crash, just after 1:30 p.m. on Canal Street, sent three people to the hospital, including the accused, Richard Burke.

Burke, 41, was a longtime legislative aide to embattled Lawrence Mayor William Lantigua when he was a state representative. Burke has been on paid leave since Aug. 15 from his $50,000-a-year job as a property acquisition and disposition officer for the city of Lawrence. That suspension was triggered by an unrelated complaint of misconduct, that city's human resources director said.

Now, he's being held in custody on charges that include second-offense drunken driving, driving an uninsured and unregistered vehicle, driving after license suspension, a number of plate violations, and making an improper turn.

A Salem District Court judge set bail at $5,000 for Burke on the new charges but also revoked his bail in the earlier drunken-driving case for 60 days, meaning he won't be released for up to 60 days or until that case is resolved, whichever happens first.

Burke pleaded not guilty yesterday to all of the pending charges in Salem District Court, where he was told that because he owns his 24 Hereford St. home, he does not qualify for a public defender and will have to hire a private attorney.

A 47-year-old Swampscott woman, Geralyn Stephan, told police that she noticed a Toyota Camry tailgating another driver on Canal Street near the Getty gas station when suddenly, the Camry, which had been heading south, took a sharp left turn into her path and struck her minivan head-on, Salem police Lt. Conrad Prosniewski told a judge.

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