EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Merrimack Valley

May 15, 2013

Charges stand against Bonilla

(Continued)

“Thus there was sufficient evidence as to Mr. Bonilla’s deceitful acts to support the conclusion of probable cause to arrest,” he wrote.

Cain also argued Bonilla should be “excused from prosecution because Chief Romero ‘authorized’ him to perform the swap.”

Lu rejected that argument, however. “... Chief Romero reported Mr. Bonilla’s activities to the FBI, which suggests he did not approve of Mr. Bonilla’s activities.”

Cain filed the motion to dismiss in December. In late March, prior to a hearing on the motion, three prosecutors filed 69 pages of opposition.

Prosecutor Michael Patten previously said Bonilla was driven to commit the crimes “by his allegiance to Mayor William Lantigua and his political circle.”

In response to Lu’s decision, Cain said “We are exploring all options and will continue to fight these thin allegations against Mr. Bonilla.”

Lantigua and Pena are repeatedly referred to in the grand jury minutes. Cain previously questioned why these “unindicted co-conspirators” have not been charged.

For more than two years, Lantigua and his administration have been under investigation by state and federal agencies.

The allegations involve corruption, bid rigging, suspicious out-of-state travel, the illegal car swap, campaign finance violations as well as shipments of vehicles to the Dominican Republic. To date, Lantigua has not been charged and maintains his innocence.

Bonilla was indicted alongside Leonard Degnan, Lantigua’s former chief of staff. Degnan is accused of pressuring Lawrence’s former trash hauler, Allied Waste, to donate a trash truck to the Dominican Republic, Lantigua’s native country.

Grand jury minutes indicate that after Lantigua became mayor in January 2010, a trash truck, two ambulances and a school bus were shipped to the Dominican Republic with Pena’s help.

After becoming mayor, Lantigua promoted Bonilla from sergeant to deputy chief.

After he was indicted, Romero and city councilors asked Lantigua, the appointing authority to remove him from the city payroll. To date, Lantigua has refused.

Bonilla and Degnan are both due back in court on June 20.

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

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