EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Merrimack Valley

January 13, 2014

Prosecutor seeks prison sentence for ex-cop

LAWRENCE — Saying his family will face “financial ruin” if he goes to prison, the defense attorney for convicted former Lawrence police officer P.J. Lopez is asking a federal judge to impose a three-year probation sentence.

But a federal prosecutor wants Lopez, convicted in October of a bribery scheme involving a Lawrence towing company, to serve 27 months in federal prison followed by two years probation.

Lopez, 47, is scheduled for sentencing in U.S. District Court in South Boston tomorrow.

After week-long trial, 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.

A federal jury deliberated for three hours before finding Lopez, a 16-year police officer, guilty.

Fired on Oct. 21 from the Lawrence Police Department, Lopez has remained free, with some restrictions, while awaiting sentencing.

The maximum penalty, under federal law, is 20 years in prison on the obstruction charge, 10 years on the bribery charge and five years for lying to a federal agent. Each charge carried maximum penalties of $250,000 each.

In a sentencing memorandum filed in federal court, Prosecutor William Bloomer asked that Lopez be sentenced to 27 months in jail, followed by 24 months supervised probation, a $10,000 fine and $100 special assessment fee.

Lawrence police “have a difficult, often dangerous job in a tough city. By abusing the powers entrusted in him as an officer, and by obstructing federal authorities, Lopez damaged both the reputation of the LPD and the trust residents place in it,” Bloomer wrote.

He added, “There’s no excuse for Lopez lining his own pockets by preying on Lawrence residents who happen to park in the wrong place — or even the right place — at the wrong time.”

“He was motivated by simple greed and sloth,” Bloomer wrote.

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