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January 10, 2013

AG sues Lantigua over unpaid fines

(Continued)

“I can’t think of a situation where it’s gotten to this point,” he said. “Usually you miss the deadline by a couple days. But this comes across as, ‘I’m trying to hide something.’ This is beyond pushing the boundaries. It’s not that he doesn’t know.”

However, Jones said he is unsure whether the bill could be passed in time to take effect for this election cycle because of reporting and primary deadlines. Lantigua’s four-year term is up in January, and he already has announced his intention to run for re-election this fall.

Freshman state Rep. Diana DiZoglio, D-Methuen, is filing a similar bill, saying in a statement that municipal officials should be held to the same standards as state candidates.

“I promised during my campaign that I would work on making government more transparent. I am starting right here, right now, by sealing this loophole,” said DiZoglio. “People should have confidence that their elected officials are following the highest ethical standards in all of the laws of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.”

Lawrence City Council President and state Rep. Frank Moran also supports the bill.

“I spoke to DiZoglio a few days ago when she approached me about it,” he said. “I said I’d co-sponsor it with her. It’s the right thing to do. The municipal candidates should be held to the same standard as the state candidates.”

Coakley said she supports such legislation. “We feel that loophole should be closed ... We believe the law should be changed,” she said.

The attorney general’s suit is the second financial hit Lantigua has taken already in the new year. Last week, a $5,475 lien for failing to pay personal state income tax was filed against Lantigua at the Northern Essex Registry of Deeds. Lantigua does not own any property so the lien, filed by the Massachusetts Department of Revenue, was filed against him personally.

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