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Merrimack Valley

February 26, 2014

Fight for personnel records rages on

Jackson at center of Melix Bonilla case

LAWRENCE — The defense attorney for police officer Melix Bonilla said he will continue pushing for full access to the personnel records of Jay Jackson, a fired police department civilian employee who’s viewed as a “key witness” in Bonilla’s criminal extortion, fraud and conspiracy case.

Bonilla, a political ally of former Mayor William Lantigua, is accused of an illegal car swap involving city-owned cars. He is scheduled for trial on April 17.

Defense attorney Alex Cain, in court papers, said Jackson, during his tenure with the police department, was the target of multiple internal affairs investigations and may have been granted leniency if he testified at the Essex County Grand Jury against Bonilla. In a motion filed in late January, Cain asked the city of Lawrence to turn over Jackson’s personnel file, including investigative and internal affairs reports.

But last week, when the city did turn over documents pertaining to Jackson, Superior Court Judge John Lu impounded the paperwork, saying some of the records may be privileged. Lu did specify that Cain could have “redacted access” to some of the Lawrence Police Department documents, according to court papers.

In response, Cain said he will be filing additional discovery motions on March 20 when he and Bonilla return to court.

“We are trying to get full access to everything,” said Cain.

Jackson served as both the police department’s unpaid auxiliary police chief and civilian facilities manager. He was suspended as auxiliary police chief in September and fired as facilities manager after Mayor Daniel Rivera succeeded Lantigua on Jan. 2.

In his motion for the personnel records, Cain said Jackson “may have been coerced into making a damaging statement against (Bonilla).”

Jackson testified against Bonilla at the grand jury on April 25, 2012. Bonilla was indicted on September 11, 2012. And former Police Chief John Romero dismissed an internal affairs investigation against Jackson on Dec. 27, 2012, Cain wrote in the motion.

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