LAWRENCE — In December 2009, just a month after William Lantigua was elected Lawrence mayor, Stanley Walczak said he was called to a meeting with Lantigua’s incoming chief of staff, Leonard Degnan.
Public works director Frank McCann told him about the meeting and the two met with Degnan at his private insurance company office on Salem Street in Lawrence, Walczak testified in Superior Court yesterday.
A “hostile” Degnan told him he was the “right hand” of Lantigua and he could “rip up” the city’s three year, $6.4 million contract with Allied Waste if he wanted to, Walczak said. As the meeting continued, Walczak said Degnan told him Lantigua was looking for donations from large companies that do business with the city.
Walczak said Degnan asked if Allied could donate two trash trucks to the Dominican Republic to Lawrence’s “sister city Tenares.”
Walczak, who was fired from Allied two years later, said he felt both “threatened” and “squeezed” by Degnan. No person or municipality he did business with had ever asked him for such a donation before. The meeting was “unprofessional and uncomfortable,” he told jurors yesterday.
But after the meeting, Walczak arranged for the donation of a one trash truck, which was emblazoned with Lantigua’s name, and sent to the Dominican Republic, he testified.
Degnan, of North Andover, is accused of criminally pressuring Walczak to donate a trash truck to the Dominican Republic to keep Allied’s trash removal contract with the city. Yesterday was the first day of testimony in the long-awaited Lantigua City Hall corruption trial and Walczak, one of the prosecution’s first witnesses, spent a good part of the day testifying.
Formally charged with bribery, extortion and conspiracy, Degnan was Lantigua’s paid chief of staff from January 2010 to May 2011. Shortly after giving his notice, Degnan testified before a federal grand jury investigating Lantigua and allegations of corruption.