EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

October 5, 2012

Laboy's son may plead on perjury charge

By Jill Harmacinski jharmacinski@eagletribune.com
The Eagle-Tribune

---- — SALEM, Mass. — The son of the convicted former Lawrence public school superintendent, Wilfredo Laboy II, will return to court later this month possibly to plead guilty to a perjury charge connected to his father’s criminal case.

Laboy II, 37, is charged with lying to an Essex County grand jury investigating his father, Wilfredo Laboy, and others involved in the felony fraud and embezzlement case.

The elder Laboy, Lawrence superintendent for nearly 10 years, was convicted March 22 of abusing public resources for personal gain and having school employees run his personal errands.

His son is the fourth and final person with a pending criminal case centered around the school scandal.

Lawyers involved in the case had a lobby conference with Judge John Lu in Salem Superior Court yesterday. Such courtroom conferences are held at sidebar to see if a criminal case can be resolved before trial. A potential plea was not discussed in open court.

Afterward, Scott Gleason, Laboy’s defense attorney, asked Lu if he and his client could return to court Oct. 18 for a “potential plea” in the case. Gleason said he had spoke with Laboy II and his family about a potential plea, and while “very appreciative,” he was not ready to change his plea of not guilty yesterday.

Prosecutors have yet to detail exactly what Laboy II lied about.

A person convicted of perjury can be sentenced to 2 1/2 years in the house of correction or up to 20 years in state prison.

A trial date for Laboy II is set for Oct. 30.

The younger Laboy runs a Sal’s Pizza franchise at the Howe Street Superette in Methuen, a business his father helped him start. His father was convicted in part for having pizza menus and other items for his son’s business printed with Lawrence school resources.

His father was also convicted of ordering school employees to drive his son around after he was charged with drunken driving and lost his license for two years.

Laboy was sentenced to two years in jail, with 90 days to be served. However, he served only 60 days at the Correctional Alternative Center in Lawrence, known as the Farm, after he was released 30 days early for good behavior.

At the Farm, Laboy, an educator for 37 years, worked with inmates trying to obtain high school diplomas.

In addition to the Laboys, failed mayoral candidate Israel Reyes and Mark Rivera, Wilfredo Laboy’s former special assistant, were both charged with using the school department’s $500,000 printing press to make up free political literature for local and state candidates.

In October 2011, Reyes, 38, pleaded guilty to two counts of larceny of property valued over $250. He was sentenced to one-year probation and ordered to stay away from the Lawrence Public Schools.

Then, in April, Rivera, 35, pleaded guilty to three misdemeanor counts of larceny of property valued under $250. He was sentenced to one-year probation, ordered to stay away from the Lawrence Public Schools and pay restitution, the amount of which will be determined at a later date.

In a tearful court statement, Rivera accepted responsibility for his actions. Rivera avoided jail through a deal arranged with District Attorney Jonathan Blodgett’s office in exchange for testifying against his former boss. He was the prosecution’s star witness during the Wilfredo Laboy trial.

Now a pastor at a Greenland, N.H., church, Rivera was originally charged with seven felony counts of larceny of property valued over $250.

Wilfredo Laboy was convicted of having school graphic designers create and prepare print jobs for an outside educational group, the Association of Latino Administrators and Superintendents, and for his son’s pizza shop on Howe Street in Methuen. He was also convicted of using school custodians and having facilities managers meet with contractors at his Methuen home to do such things as retrieve trash.

At sentencing on March 23, Wilfredo Laboy publicly apologized and accepted responsibility for his actions. Upon his release from jail, Wilfredo Laboy was also ordered to serve a year of house arrest, perform 600 hours of community service, be on probation for three years and pay a yet-to-be determined amount of restitution.

Wilfredo Laboy was also convicted of illegal possession of alcohol on school property after detectives seized 16 bottles of alcohol, some opened, from his school office.

Follow staff reporter Jill Harmacinski on Twitter under the screenname EagleTribJill.