The man shot to death outside a Methuen club in October was an FBI informant at about the time he was paid $1,000 by a Lawrence police detective in exchange for grand jury testimony about a murder he witnessed in 2007, according to police.
A 2009 State Police memo identified Lawrence patrolman Richard Brooks as the officer who paid David Rivera, 28, of Farnham Street, Lawrence, $1,000 in exchange for his testimony before a grand jury investigating the shooting death of Daniel Bautista on Oct. 30, 2007.
Rudy A. Cruz, of Lawrence, was indicted and eventually acquitted by a jury in Bautista’s murder.
“He was informant of the FBI,” Brooks said about Rivera in an interview with The Eagle-Tribune yesterday. “I can’t divulge any information. I was on an FBI gang task force.”
Brooks, a Londonderry resident who said he is currently out on leave, said he could not discuss the source of the payment or Rivera’s status as an informant.
Special Agent Greg Comcowich, media coordinator for the FBI Boston field office, said yesterday he would have to investigate the matter before he could comment.
Investigators assigned to Bautista’s murder learned that Rivera, the only direct eyewitness to the shooting, was an informant who had been working with Brooks, according to a memo written by State Police Trooper Robert LaBarge Jr., who was assigned to the detectives unit at the Essex County District Attorney’s Office.
“This information was learned in the early stages of the investigation,” LaBarge wrote.
The memo did not mention the FBI.
Rivera was a reluctant witness, one whom investigators discovered was on Farnham Street when the shooting took place only through other witnesses, LaBarge wrote. When asked to testify, Rivera refused, and went so far as to throw a subpoena to testify before a grand jury on the ground.
Rivera did testify before the grand jury on Nov. 28, 2007, according to LaBarge and grand jury transcripts in Cruz’s trial file at Salem Superior Court. But LaBarge described Rivera as emotional, still insisting he did not want to testify.
Rivera identified Cruz as Bautista’s shooter in that testimony. Others with Rivera at the time, including two of his brothers and some of his close friends, were putting four-wheelers away and were not on the street to witness the shooting. They testified they saw Cruz at the scene shortly afterward, bragging about killing Bautista.
At one point during the investigation, Rivera called LaBarge “and asked if he could become a paid informant,” according to the memo. “He said he could buy guns and he was interested in how much money he could earn.” LaBarge said “nothing came of his desire to be an informant.”
During Cruz’s 2009 trial, LaBarge and assistant district attorney Jessica Connors tried to convince Rivera, who was serving a jail sentence at New Hampshire State Prison in Concord, N.H., at the time, to testify at the trial. Rivera refused “in no uncertain terms,” LaBarge wrote.
While New Hampshire officials eventually convinced him to appear at Cruz’s trial in Lawrence Superior Court, Rivera again refused to testify and asked to see an attorney.
A few days into the trial, Rivera attorney Michael Seddon told Cruz defense attorney Ronald Ranta in a handwritten note that police had paid Rivera $1,000 in exchange for his grand jury testimony in 2007, when he said Cruz shot and killed Bautista.
“Investigators in the case thought as a group that Mr. Rivera was trying to get out of testifying in the trial,” LaBarge wrote. “Subsequently, A.D.A. Connors said she followed up on the matter and learned that Mr. Rivera was paid one thousand dollars for the information he provided regarding the homicide of Daniel Bautista, and for other criminal information. She said she learned that Det. Richard Brooks was the individual who paid Mr. Rivera for this information. Because of this information, Judge Richard Welch ruled that David Rivera would not be allowed to testify at the trial.”
LaBarge wrote the memo as part of an inquiry in the district attorney’s office into the $1,000 payment, according to assistant district attorney David F. O’Sullivan.
A jury acquitted Cruz of the murder in late October 2009.
Ranta asked prosecutors for any information they had that connected Rivera, his brothers and some of his friends with a gang called Outlaws, according to court documents. No evidence of a connection was in Cruz’s court file.
Rivera was shot and killed outside the Sahara Club in Methuen early in the morning on Oct. 23. Police believe they have a suspect, who is in custody on another matter, and have been working with a grand jury.
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