EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

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October 10, 2013

Mayor moves to fire Lopez

Lantigua removes convicted cop from payroll a year after indictment

(Continued)

Lopez’s defense attorney, Alex Cain of North Andover, yesterday said he’d be filing an appeal of Lopez’s convictions. Cain said within 14 days he’d be filing a motion in federal court to have the verdicts set aside.

“We are exploring all options,” Cain said.

While Lopez was removed from the payroll, Lantigua’s former campaign manager, Deputy Police Chief Melix Bonilla, is still being paid his $140,000 annual salary. Bonilla was indicted by an Essex County Grand Jury on Sept. 11, 2012 on bribery, extortion and conspiracy charges. He’s accused of swapping 13 city-owned vehicles for four Chevrolet Impalas from a Lantigua friend.

Bonilla’s Superior Court trial is set for April 7.

A Lawrence resident, Lopez was convicted for his involvement in the M & W Towing scheme, which involved him purchasing several vehicles at reduced rates and receiving a $4,000 snow plow in exchange for sending an increase in police-ordered tows to M & W from December 2010 to January 2011.

M & W at that time was one of four city companies that towed for the city of Lawrence on a rotating basis. Calixto, who was granted immunity from prosecution in exchange for his testimony against Lopez, said he made roughly $150 off every tow ordered by police.

At the trial’s opening, Calixto testified at length about his arrangement with Lopez who he said he gave reduced rates on car purchases — a Suzuki Reno, Ford Escape and Nissan Altima — and a $4,000 snow plow in exchange for sending extra tows to M & W.

Also, Mayra Colon, who worked under the table at M & W as Calixto’s secretary, testified last week that after the FBI started questioning her and others about Lopez, she created a fake receipt showing Lopez paid $4,000 for a snow plow. Colon was also granted immunity from prosecution.

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