EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

January 30, 2013

Son of former school chief avoids jail for perjury

Wilfredo Laboy II admits he lied to grand jury; gets one year probation

By Jill Harmacinski
jharmacinski@eagletribune.com

---- — LAWRENCE — The son of convicted Lawrence Public School Superintendent Wilfredo Laboy yesterday admitted he lied to an Essex County Grand Jury that investigated and later indicted his father on criminal charges.

On the morning his trial was supposed to start, Wilfredo Laboy II, 38, yesterday pleaded guilty to perjury and was sentenced to one year supervised probation through an agreement reached between the prosecution and defense and approved by Judge Maynard Karpalani.

A perjury charge carries a recommended sentence between 21/2 to 20 years in jail.

Laboy II, the father of two teenaged children and owner of a Sal’s Pizza franchise in Methuen, admitted he lied to the grand jury in September 2009 about having his pizza shop menus designed and printed with Lawrence school resources. He also admitted he lied about getting rides to work on a daily basis from school department employees.

Laboy II lost his license for two years after his second drunken driving conviction, triggering the need for rides to and from Sal’s Pizza shops he was working at in Lawrence and North Andover.

His father did not accompany him to court yesterday although his mother and wife were present for the sentencing. Laboy II was the fourth and final person with a criminal case centered around the school scandal.

On March 22, 2012, the elder Laboy, Lawrence school superintendent for nearly a decade, was found guilty of felony fraud and embezzlement charges. He was convicted of using public school resources for his personal gain, using school employees to run his personal errands and having pizza menus and other items for his son’s business printed in the school department.

He was sentenced to two years in jail, with 90 days to be served. However, Laboy 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.

During sentencing yesterday, prosecutor Maureen Wilson Leal said Laboy II “falsely and intentionally” gave erroneous information to the grand jury when he was under oath. And his own statements were contradicted by his father when he testified during his trial last spring.

Leal noted the elder Laboy testified “he made all the arrangements for his son to get these rides.”

Before the grand jury, Laboy II said he couldn’t remember ever being driven in a school department pickup truck to his jobs. But several trial witnesses, all school department employees, testified they picked up Laboy II in a school department pickup truck, Leal said.

Under questioning by the judge, Laboy II admitted he committed perjury and that he was pleading guilty willingly and voluntarily. When asked if he wanted to address the court before he was sentenced, Laboy II declined.

Leal asked the court to sentence Laboy II to 21/2 years in jail, with a year to be served and the balance suspended for three years. Leal said “the crime strikes at the heart of the judicial system and warrants incarceration.”

“The fact of the matter is, the defendant got up there and lied under oath about material issues,” she said.

Defense attorney Scott Gleason, who also represented Laboy’s father in his criminal trial, asked for a year of straight probation, however.

Several trial witnesses were at court yesterday, readying to testify in Laboy II’s scheduled trial. They included police Sgt. Maurice Aguiler, a lead detective in the Laboy case, and Mark Rivera, Laboy’s former special assistant in the school department.

Rivera was the star witness at Laboy’s fraud and embezzlement trial. A month afterwards, he pleaded guilty to three misdemeanor counts of larceny of property valued under $250 for using the school department’s $500,000 printing press to make up free political literature for local and state candidates. He was sentenced to one year probation and ordered to stay away from the Lawrence Public Schools.

In October 2011, Israel Reyes, a failed city mayoral candidate, pleaded guilty to two counts of larceny of property over $250, for also abusing the school department printing press.

He was also also sentenced to one year probation and ordered to stay away from the Lawrence Public Schools.

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