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June 24, 2014

Bonilla corruption trial delayed now until September

LAWRENCE — The corruption trial for Lawrence police officer Melix Bonilla has been delayed again and is now set for Sept. 22.

Bonilla's defense attorney Alex Cain filed a motion for continuance today in Salem Superior Court, saying there are still outstanding discovery, or evidence, issues in the case. Also, Cain said a "private matter" involving him precluded him from being able to take the case to trial this week as previously scheduled.

Prosecutor Michael Patten said he was ready to start the trial this week. Judge John Lu allowed for the case to be continued, however.

Bonilla, while the department's former deputy police chief, is accused of swapping 13 city-owned vehicles for four Chevrolet Impalas with a friend of former Mayor William Lantigua. Bonilla is a political ally of Lantigua and served as Lantigua's campaign manager.

For several months, Cain has been seeking access to un-redacted internal affairs reports and audio tapes involving Jay Jackson, a former city employee described as a key witness in the extortion, fraud and conspiracy trial.

Jackson is the police department's now-terminated auxiliary police chief and civilian facilities manager. In previous court documents, Cain has alleged Jackson was promised he would not be terminated in internal affairs investigations if he testified against Bonilla at the Essex County Grand Jury.

According to motion filed today, Cain said new witness statements regarding Jackson were contained in internal affairs documents he received from the city of Lawrence on June 18.

Also, Cain said he has identified two other witnesses "who indicate they often heard Jackson brag he was 'untouchable' that as long as he cooperated with the Lawrence Police Department in its investigation of Melix Bonilla and William Lantigua," according to the motion.

In exchange for his cooperation, Jackson "not be reprimanded for allegations of sexual harassment," wrote Cain, asking for additional time to "locate and interview witnesses."

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