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June 24, 2013

Feds want Sheehan to testify

LAWRENCE — Federal prosecutors now want a second towing company owner to testify in the bribery and obstruction of justice trial of Lawrence police Officer P.J. Lopez.

Lopez, 47, is accused of making arrangements with M&W Towing of Lawrence to have cars he ticketed towed in exchange for a stream of benefits, including a $4,000 snow plow.

But prosecutors have asked a judge to allow Robert Sheehan, the owner of Sheehan’s Towing in Methuen and Lawrence, to testify about Lopez’s interest in an abandoned Land Rover Sheehan’s towed and an increase in business, at Lopez’s direction, that occurred from December 2010 until June 2011.

Once Sheehan sold the Land Rover to a New Hampshire company that specializes in the sale of foreign, high-end vehicles, Sheehan said the number of tows Lopez directed to his company “began to diminish,” according to court papers.

“... The jury could rationally infer that the defendant was attempting to gain favor from Sheehan in the form of a discounted price on the Land Rover in exchange for a sharp increase in the number of tows ordered for Sheehan’s company,” Assistant U.S. Attorney William Bloomer wrote in a motion filed on May 27.

Lopez’s trial was originally scheduled to start June 10 but was postponed until September. A Lawrence resident and city police officer since 1997, Lopez was indicted on Sept. 25, 2012, in connection with his dealings with M & W and owner Wilson Calixto. He is charged with bribery, lying to a federal agent and obstruction of justice.

According to court papers, from December 2010 to May 2011, Lopez ordered an increase number of tows by M&W “in exchange for a free snow plow and discount on the sale prices of abandoned vehicles.”

At the same time, Lopez “also ordered a sharp increase in the number of vehicle tows by Sheehan’s Towing,” Bloomer wrote.

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