EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Merrimack Valley

March 7, 2014

Grand jury probes paving work

(Continued)

Lantigua did not return a phone call yesterday. Attorney Jeffrey Denner, who represented Lantigua before another grand jury that indicted a city parking attendant last year for allegedly skimming proceeds at a garage, could not be reached.

Besides summoning Wall and the other city workers to the grand jury, the subpoenas direct them to turn over any correspondence they had with Lantigua involving paving projects done by Highway Rehabilitation Corp., the New York company that did the work, since Jan. 1, 2010, a few days before Lantigua took office.

The Eagle-Tribune last week filed a request under the state Public Records Law seeking copies of emails between Wall and Lantigua involving the paving work. City Attorney Charles Boddy rejected the request yesterday, citing a clause in the law that allows public agencies to withhold records that may be evidence in a criminal investigation.

The newspaper reported in January that Wall asked Highway Rehab to continue paving city streets after its $84,979 contract for the work ran out in August, the month before the preliminary election for mayor. City Purchasing Agent Rita Brousseau stopped the added work when the invoices began arriving, but by then the overrun had reached $294,444.

Wall said he acted at Lantigua’s direction.

David Capelle, Highway Rehab’s marketing and sales officer, agreed.

“We were assured we would be paid by the mayor at the time,” Capelle told the City Council in a plea to be paid for the work on Jan. 29. “We were assured there wouldn’t be a problem.”

Rivera said he won’t pay the bill because the work was done without bidding or a contract, in violation of state procurement law.

In a subsequent story, The Eagle-Tribune reported that while it was awaiting payment of the $294,444 for the first paving job, the company bid for and won a second paving job from the city, for $397,148, about a month before the general election on Nov. 5. But after winning the contract, the company advised Lantigua that it was too late in the year to seal the asphalt with a top coat that would protect it against the elements and agreed to do the work only if Lantigua signed a waiver releasing the company from liability.

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