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March 24, 2014

Jury selectionfor Degnan'strial starts today

LAWRENCE — The long awaited corruption trial of Leonard Degnan opens this week and the witness lists for both the prosecution and defense include quite the cadre of Lawrence-affiliated officials and business people.

Topping the lists are former Mayor William Lantigua, Degnan’s former boss, and his girlfriend Lorenza Ortega, a former City Hall worker, who are identified as both prosecution and defense witnesses. Lantigua in court papers is described as a “civilian.”

Other witnesses who may be called during the bribery, extortion and conspiracy trial include numerous employees of Allied Waste, including former general manager, Stanley Walczak, along with Maurice Ryan and David Walton, the owners of Patriot Ambulance, and Patriot employee John Felci.

Frank McCann, the retired Lawrence Public Works director, is also on both the prosecution and defense witness lists. Several FBI agents and Lawrence police officers are also listed, including Officer Gary Yancey, who at one time was assigned to Lawrence City Hall as Lantigua’s personal detail.

As Lantigua’s chief of staff, Degnan stands accused of pressuring Allied Waste, a city contractor, to donate a trash truck to the Dominican Republic, Lantigua’s native country. Lantigua lost re-election in November to new Mayor Daniel Rivera.

Rivera is listed as a defense witness for Degnan.

Jury selection is scheduled to start today. The trial is expected to last one to two weeks. Judge Douglas Wilkins will preside over the case at Lawrence Superior Court.

During his four years as Lawrence mayor, Lantigua and members of his administration were the focus of a multi-jurisdictional probe into allegations involving the trash truck, an illegal car swap, narcotics, bid rigging and suspicious out of country travel. To date, Lantigua has not been faced criminal charges.

Evidence in the trial will include photographs and correspondence “concerning the donations of vehicles to the city of Lawrence or the Dominican Republic” from Allied Waste, Patriot Ambulance and North Reading Transportation, according to court papers.

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