EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

April 30, 2014

Boston man sentenced for vandalizing Lantigua's pick-up

By Keith Eddings

---- — LAWRENCE — An East Boston man who vandalized former Mayor William Lantigua’s pickup truck in August has been ordered to pay the $2,500 repair bill and to stay away from Lantigua, adding another chapter to the bizarre history the two men share.

Antonio Arevalo, 47, admitted to pouring rock salt in the gas tank of Lantigua’s 2002 Chevrolet Avalanche — well-known in the city for the “MAYOR” license plates it still bears — and stuffing lottery tickets in its exhaust pipe while it was parked outside Bali’s bar and restaurant on Essex Street on March 29, 2013.

Arevalo admitted to police shortly after the attack that he also threw garbage onto the truck’s flatbed and stuck a broom stick in the driver’s door handle. He described the vandalism to police as “a childish prank,” according a police report.

Detectives obtained surveillance videos from area business that showed Arevalo in the area when the truck was damaged. He confessed when they confronted him with the videos.

On Monday in Lawrence District Court, Arevalo pleaded to sufficient facts, meaning he believed prosecutors had enough evidence to convict him of the attack on the truck. His case was continued without a finding for six months, when the charges would be dropped in if he commits no other violations.

Prosecutors subpoenaed Lantigua to testify at Arevalo’s trial, but the plea bargain made it unnecessary for the former mayor to attend Monday’s court session.

“He’s happy that Mr. Arevalo has been ordered to stay away,” Lantigua’s lawyer, Adamo Lanza, said yesterday. “That’s what he cared about the most. He’s happy that justice has been done in that way.”

“It is what it is,” Arevalo said. “I did what I did. I apologized to the judge but I didn’t apologize to Lantigua.”

Arevalo was one of Lantigua’s most outspoken critics while he was mayor. He regularly photographed the mayor’s visits to local nightclubs and distributed the photos to news organizations and law enforcement agencies.

His criticism occasionally took odd twists, beginning with a barroom confrontation three years ago that Arevalo followed up by seeking a restraining order against Lantigua. When that was denied, he sought a restraining order against Patrick Blanchette, who was then Lantigua’s economic development director, which was also denied.

At that time, Lantigua dismissed Arevalo as a “nut” working with his political opponents to discredit him.

A year later, a 378-pound nightclub bouncer working at a club Lantigua frequented chased Arevalo into a fried chicken restaurant next door to the club, where a surveillance camera filmed the bouncer towering over Arevalo, flinging him by his jacket around the kitchen, punching him in the head and accusing him of snitching on Lantigua.

Arevalo’s arm was broken in two places. The bouncer, David Figueroa, pleaded guilty in the attack and served a 90-day sentence. The video of the attack gave the incident local notoriety when it was posted on YouTube.

Lantigua lost his re-election bid in November. He is running to regain his former Statehouse seat representing the 16th Essex District, now held by Marcos Devers.