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)

“You were afraid you’d be shut off like Valley Towing?” Bloomer asked.

“That’s correct,” Calixto replied.

After the Suzuki, Lopez later saw a Ford Escape he wanted. The price was $1,500 but Lopez gave him $1,000. Calixto said there was no discussion of tows “but they were coming in,” he said.

Later, Lopez took a 2002 Nissan Altima on Lopez’s lot. Calixto wanted $500 but he never received the money from Lopez. Again, the tows to his company increased, however.

Testimony: Lopez wanted snow plow

In February 2011, Lopez spoke to Calixto about buying him a snow plow for his own personal pickup. Lopez showed him pictures of what he wanted on an iPad in the towing office. He agreed to the purchase and gave Lopez a blank check with his stamped signatured on it.

“At this point, I couldn’t say no,” Calixto said. “I told the defendant to buy the plow.”

Lopez never repaid him for the plow purchase, Calixto testified.

Around April 2012, Calixto told Lopez he was spooked by something he read in the newspaper and feared he was being investigated. He told Lopez he needed to “slow down” the tows to him.

Later, FBI agents visited his office, asking for tow records from July 2011. After that, when Lopez spoke to Calixto he asked him to remove his cell phone battery. “He was paranoid. He thought we might be bugged, taped or bugged,” Calixto said.

In a discussion in Calixto’s living room, Lopez told him what he’d done “was unethical” but that “it was his word against mine,” Calixto said.

Lopez said the investigators would believe him because he is a cop. “He said I would go to jail and lose my business. I was scared. I didn’t know what to think,” Calixto said.

During the discussion, Calixto said Lopez said “he could lose his job, his pension ... go to jail.” Lopez told Calixto not to call him anymore, believing the phones were tapped “and they could hear everything.”

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