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.
Also testifying on June 14 was Frank McCann, the city's former public works director, who oversaw city trash disposal contracts and pickup services. McCann retired after 41 years with the city in June 2010, just six months after Lantigua was sworn into office
Frank Coady, whose Marston Street towing company is one of four Lawrence businesses that share alternating weekly towing privileges in the city, also testified on June 14. Afterwards, he said he was assured he was not a target of the grand jury probe and declined further comment.
Stanley Walczak, the former general manager of Allied Waste, which provides trash removal service for city residents, showed up at federal court on June 28 and was prepared to testify as a cooperating witness before the grand jury, he said.
However, Walczak left the courthouse shortly afterward, saying the grand jury was cancelled that day. It's unclear when and if he's returned to testify.
The city currently has 15 months left in a three-year, $2 million contract with Allied Waste.
Lantigua did not return a phone message seeking comment for this story yesterday. In previous interviews, he has maintained his innocence and said he has not broken any laws and encouraged local, state and federal agencies to investigate him.
In recent weeks, subpoenas also went out from the state Office of Campaign and Political Finance as part of an investigation into Lantigua's campaign fundraising efforts and financial reporting. Many city clubs received subpoenas, along with Salvatore's restaurant.
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.