EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

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April 28, 2013

Phone records: Solicitor contacted job candidate's reference

METHUEN — City Solicitor Peter McQuillan spoke with one professional reference for a solicitor candidate at least three times in the days and hours preceding the City Council interview of the two finalist candidates, according to cell phone records obtained by The Eagle-Tribune, raising questions about whether he interfered in the selection process for his successor.

McQuillan used his municipal cell phone to speak with Methuen attorney Anthony Copani, who was a reference for Richard D’Agostino, one of the two solicitor finalists, on Copani’s cell phone at least six times in March, city records show. Officials yesterday said that Copani conducts business with the city, however, and is often seen in City Hall.

McQuillan, who reviewed and redacted his own phone and email records in response to a public records request by The Eagle-Tribune with the assistant city solicitor present, blacked out the phone numbers in the line items listing Copani’s number. Copani’s cell phone number was discernible through the blackout in multiple instances.

“I’m not going to comment at all,” McQuillan said Wednesday when asked about the timing and nature of the phone calls.

Copani, when reached on his cell phone Tuesday afternoon, also said he could not comment.

“I don’t think I want to interfere by giving statements to the media,” Copani said. “I want to give courtesy to whoever is conducting the investigation, if there is an investigation.”

City Council Chairman Sean Fountain said he wanted to withhold comment, but said that Copani “does a ton of business with the city.”

“I’m not going to comment on the record because I haven’t seen (the phone records),” he said. “Councilor (Thomas) Ciulla has been asking for these. But I have seen attorney Copani in City Hall, and he does business and represents a lot of people in different aspects of the city. I’ve even seen attorney Copani going in and out of Peter’s office.”

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