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June 16, 2013

Jobs, allegations add up at garages

(Continued)

Garcia is among at least a half dozen city employees arrested on corruption or other criminal charges since Lantigua took office, including former Chief of Staff Leonard Degnan and Deputy Police Chief Melix Bonilla. Degnan resigned before he was indicted. Lantigua has suspended the others and sent them home, with pay.

Lantigua did not return a message left at his City Hall office or a phone call on Friday seeking information about whether he plans to suspend Garcia or Matos.

Isensee said he has no authority to do more than reassign either man. He said he has not removed Matos from his booth because he has not been charged or indicted, even though the state police affidavit accuses him of receiving stolen parking receipts.

“I can (reassign Matos), but I don’t think I would do so based on an allegation,” Isensee said. “Allegations are just that.”

Earlier efforts to remove workers from the city payroll after criminal charges were lodged against them have gone nowhere. Led by Marc Laplante, several city councilors twice tried to remove Deputy Police Chief Bonilla from the payroll, but the full City Council defeated the efforts.

Robert Nunes, the city’s state-appointed fiscal overseer, recently told the council he’s had “very heated” discussions with Lantigua about the cost of paying employees who have been indicted and sent home.

In Boston, state Rep. Diana DiZoglio, D-Methuen, is preparing a bill that would give the fiscal overseer the authority to remove indicted employees from the payroll while charges against them are pending.

Nunes did not respond to a request for comment on Friday.

Sandy Almonte, who chairs the city’s Personnel Committee, also did not return a phone call Friday.

Roger Twomey, a former chairman of the committee who still serves on it, said Matos should be reassigned based on the allegations about his role in the alleged thefts of parking receipts outlined in the police affidavit. He declined comment about whether Matos or Garcia should be suspended.

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