LAWRENCE — Leonard Degnan was sentenced 18 months in jail in a punishment a Superior Court judge said holds the former aide to Lawrence Mayor William Lantigua accountable for breaching the public trust in a bribery and conspiracy scheme.
“Here, the court imposes a punishment that, it believes, actually holds Mr. Degnan accountable for his breach of public responsibility and may restore some measure of trust that the defendant has violated,” said Judge Douglas Wilkins.
On Monday, Degnan, 51, Lantigua’s former chief of staff, was found guilty by a 12-person jury of four felony counts of bribery and conspiracy. He was convicted of pressuring a city contractor, Allied Waste, to donate a trash truck to the Dominican Republic, Lantigua’s native country. The crime occurred in December 2010, after Lantigua was elected as mayor but before he was formally sworn into office.
Lantigua’s administration was dogged by allegations of corruption, including the trash truck scheme, other vehicle donations, an illegal car swap, suspicious out-of-country travel, bid rigging and more during the mayor’s single term from 2010 to 2014.
Among the things Wilkins said he considered before sentencing was that “the jury found that Mr. Degnan had co-conspirators. He does not appear to have been the driving force behind these crimes, which others put into motion at least initially.”
Lantigua, who was ousted in last fall’s election, and retired Public Works Director Frank McCann were both subpoenaed as witnesses during Degnan’s trial. Both asserted Fifth Amendment rights against self incrimination, however, and never took the stand in Lawrence Superior Court. Neither Lantigua nor McCann have faced criminal charges.
The maximum sentence on the bribery charge, the stiffest offense, was 10 years in state prison. Prosecutors wanted Degnan to serve 3 to 4 years in state prison and pay a $50,000 fine. But Wilkins sentenced the North Andover father of three to 18 months in the county jail and imposed a $10,000 fine, two years probation and 100 hours of community service.