EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

November 7, 2012

Perjury trial for Laboy's son set for January

By Jill Harmacinski jharmacinski@eagletribune.com
The Eagle-Tribune

---- — SALEM, Mass. — Unable to reach a plea deal, Wilfredo Laboy II, son of the convicted Lawrence public school superintendent, is now scheduled to go on trial for perjury in January.

Laboy II, 37, is charged with lying to an Essex County Grand Jury on Sept. 16, 2009. The grand jury then was investigating the elder Laboy, who on March 22 was found guilty of felony fraud and embezzlement charges. Lawrence superintendent for nearly 10 years, Laboy was convicted of abusing public resources for personal gain and having school employees run his personal errands.

Laboy II is the fourth and final person with a pending criminal case centered around the school scandal. His trial is scheduled to start on Jan. 29, with a final pre-trial court appearance on Jan. 15, according to court records.

Lawyers involved in his case previously had a lobby conference with Judge John Lu in Superior Court. At least one deal was on the table, the details of which were not discussed in open court. Defense attorney Scott Gleason previously said Laboy II was “very appreciative” of a plea offer but the case is now being readied for trial.

If convicted of perjury, Laboy II faces 2 1/2 years in the house of correction or up to 20 years in state prison.

Prosecutor Maureen Wilson Leal filed a potential witness list for the trial, which is expected to last 4 or 5 days.

Possible witnesses include the elderly Laboy, a host of current and former school department employees, police officers and Mark Rivera, Laboy’s former special assistant who pleaded guilty to larceny charges connected to the case. Rivera was the prosecution’s star witness at Laboy’s fraud and embezzlement trial.

Record keepers from three car services, Liberty, Methuen and Apple, may also be called to testify, Leal indicated in court papers.

The elder Laboy was convicted, in part, for having school department employees driving his son to work after he lost his license for drunken driving for two years.

Prosecutors have yet to detail exactly what Laboy II lied about.

The younger Laboy runs a Sal’s Pizza franchise at the Howe Street Superette in Methuen, a business his father helped him start. His father was convicted in part for having pizza menus and other items for his son’s business printed with Lawrence school resources.

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

At the Farm, Laboy, an educator for 37 years, worked with inmates trying to obtain high school diplomas.

In addition to the Laboys, failed mayoral candidate Israel Reyes and Rivera were both charged with using the school department’s $500,000 printing press to make up free political literature for local and state candidates.

In October 2011, Reyes, 38, pleaded guilty to two counts of larceny of property valued over $250. He was sentenced to one-year probation and ordered to stay away from the Lawrence Public Schools.

Then, in April, Rivera, 35, pleaded guilty to three misdemeanor counts of larceny of property valued under $250. He was sentenced to one-year probation, ordered to stay away from the Lawrence Public Schools and pay restitution, the amount of which will be determined at a later date.

In a tearful court statement, Rivera accepted responsibility for his actions. Rivera avoided jail through a deal arranged with District Attorney Jonathan Blodgett’s office in exchange for testifying against his former boss.

Now a pastor at a Greenland, N.H., church, Rivera was originally charged with seven felony counts of larceny of property valued over $250.

Wilfredo Laboy was convicted of having school graphic designers create and prepare print jobs for an outside educational group, the Association of Latino Administrators and Superintendents, and for his son’s pizza shop. He was also convicted of using school custodians and having facilities managers meet with contractors at his Methuen home to do such things as retrieve trash.

At sentencing on March 23, Wilfredo Laboy publicly apologized and accepted responsibility for his actions. Upon his release from jail, Wilfredo Laboy was also ordered to serve a year of house arrest, perform 600 hours of community service, be on probation for three years and pay a yet-to-be determined amount of restitution.

Wilfredo Laboy was also convicted of illegal possession of alcohol on school property after detectives seized 16 bottles of alcohol, some opened, from his school office.

Gleason, Laboy’s defense attorney, could not be reached for comment.

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