By Jill Harmacinski
---- — LAWRENCE - Mayor William Lantigua today announced he has started termination proceedings against veteran Police Officer P.J. Lopez , who was convicted yesterday in federal court in a tow company kickback scheme.
Lopez, 47, had been kept on the police department payroll at his $60,000 salary for more than a year as he awaited trial.
"There is no place in our Police Department for this type of behavior. My response is consistent with our shared belief that an accused is presumed innocent until found guilty by a jury of his peers," Lantigua said in the statement.
Lopez was convicted of bribery, obstruction of justice and lying to a federal agent for arranging a kickback scheme with M & W Towing of Lawrence and its owner Wilson Calixto. After a week-long trial, a jury deliberated for three hours before finding Lopez, a 16-year police officer, guilty. He remains free, with some restrictions, until his sentencing Jan. 14 at U.S. District Court in South Boston.
A required termination hearing for Lopez was scheduled for Oct. 17 at City Hall.
In the same statement, released yesterday afternoon, Interim Police Chief James Fitzpatrick said, "As troubling as this conviction is, it should not discredit the fine men and women of the Lawrence Police Department who work with the utmost integrity protecting our citizenry on a daily basis."
For more in this story see The Eagle-Tribune tomorrow or go to eagletribune.com.