EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Mayor Lantigua

July 20, 2011

Lantigua grand jury broadens

Patriot Ambulance owners appear at federal inquiry

BOSTON — The owners of Patriot Ambulance appeared yesterday at U.S. District Court in Boston, where a federal grand jury has been weighing evidence against Mayor William Lantigua and members of his administration.

Patriot Ambulance co-owners and founders David Walton and Maurice Ryan both entered the South Boston courthouse around 9:15 a.m.

Patriot Ambulance provides emergency ambulance services to the city of Lawrence and has made charitable ambulance donations to the Dominican Republic and other Latin American countries in recent years.

Lantigua, who became mayor in January 2010, and his administration are subjects of a multi-jurisdictional investigation involving allegations of bid-rigging, narcotics and weapons trafficking at local clubs, weapons, suspicious out-of-country travel and more, law enforcement sources previously said.

Part of the investigation focuses on city-owned and other vehicles, including a trash truck, being shipped to Lantigua's native Dominican Republic, sources confirmed.

A June 26 Boston Globe report referred to a school bus and ambulance Lantigua promised to townspeople in Tenares, the rural Dominican hometown of many Lawrence immigrants. Neither the bus nor the ambulance ever arrived in the city, according to the report.

Ryan left the courthouse around 11:30 a.m. and declined comment when approached by a reporter. Walton did not return a phone message left at the ambulance company.

Patriot Ambulance holds the city's ambulance contract but receives no direct compensation from the city. The private company bills insurance companies and individuals for the service, according to officials.

According to the company website, Walton and Ryan are former Concord firefighters who started the Chelmsford-based ambulance service. Patriot employs more than 200 people and provides ambulance service to 50,000 customers annually, according to the site.

Federal grand jurors have been weighing evidence in the Lantigua case since at least last month.

On June 14, Leonard Degnan, who resigned abruptly as Lantigua's chief of staff in May, spent nearly four hours inside the federal courthouse with his lawyer, James Landy.

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