EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

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March 29, 2013

Ex-city lawyer says he's cooperating with Lantigua investigators

D'Agostino: 'My only regret is that I didn't know even more'

LAWRENCE — Former assistant city solicitor Richard D’Agostino says he has been questioned by authorities and is cooperating with the ongoing criminal investigation into Mayor William Lantigua’s administration.

D’Agostino, who was fired from the city in April 2012 after returning from a 16-month medical leave, spoke of his involvement in the Lantigua investigation yesterday during an exclusive interview with The Eagle-Tribune.

“To the extent that I am capable,” said D’Agostino, when asked if he was cooperating with criminal investigators. “My only regret is that I didn’t know even more. Because I (was) willing to give up my job and I did for that reason. And believe me, it’s been difficult.”

Lantigua and members of his administration were identified in April 2011 as targets in a multi-jurisdictional investigation involving allegations of corruption, bid rigging, suspicious out-of-state travel, campaign finance violations and vehicle shipments to the Dominican Republic. Two of the mayor’s top deputies — former Chief of Staff Leonard Degnan and Deputy Police Chief Melix Bonilla — were indicted in the probe last year and charged with bribery, extortion, and conspiracy charges.

D’Agostino is one of two finalists for Methuen’s solicitor job. The City Council is expected to take a deciding vote on the hire Monday. In a public job interview with the council earlier this week, D’Agostino said he lost his job in Lawrence because he “stood up to a corrupt mayor.”

“Someone needs to stand up and at least say, ‘No,’ to the reign of terror that’s gone on in Lawrence,” D’Agostino told councilors.

D’Agostino was hired as Lawrence’s assistant city solicitor in 2005. Yesterday, D’Agostino stood by his comments during the interview and said he now considers his decision to publicly back Lantigua’s historic 2009 mayoral run as “terrible, horrible” judgement.

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