EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

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October 2, 2013

Tow company boss testifies in cop's corruption trial

Officer P. J. Lopez faces bribery charges

(Continued)

“He did not engage in a kickback agreement,” Cain said of Lopez.

M & W was one of four city tow companies that towed for the city of Lawrence on a rotating basis. In testimony yesterday, Calixto said two weeks after he spoke to the FBI about Lopez and his dealings, he was booted off the city’s tow list. Mayor William Lantigua sent him a letter saying he was being removed from the list because he released a car that Lawrence Fire Department wanted impounded for an investigation.

Calixto made roughly $150 off every police tow and additional charges could be applied if drivers didn’t immediately pick up their vehicles.

Calixto, 46, of Methuen, started his testimony by telling jurors he was in court “to tell the truth.”

In 1995, he started his company with just one tow truck. The company grew over time and in 2010, he had seven trucks. The father of six said he was audited by the IRS, owing $83,000 in unpaid taxes for 2007 and 2008, as well as $16,000 to the state’s Department of Revenue. He currently pays $1,100 monthly in combined payment plans for both debts, he said.

Also, he acknowledged having a drinking problem, for which he twice received treatment. He only drinks on weekends now, he said.

During questioning by federal prosecutor William Bloomer, Calixto said he’s known Lopez since he first came on the job in 1997. “We got to talk. Got to know each other a little. He’d come to my office. He’d say hi and we’d talk,” he said.

When the deal with the Suzuki Reno surfaced, Calixto said he was hesitant. But Lopez, he said, had previously told him about problems he had with another city tow company, Valley Towing, and how he “wouldn’t tow no vehicles to that company unless it was absolutely necessary.”

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