EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Merrimack Valley

March 26, 2014

Wasting no time

Waste company exec testifies he was threatened to make truck donation to Dominican Republic city

(Continued)

As the prosecution’s first order of business, Degnan’s 2011 testimony before the federal grand jury was read into evidence. Under questioning by an assistant United States attorney, Degnan told federal grand jurors he was friends with Lantigua for many years and agreed to be his chief of staff when he was elected mayor. However, he left the City Hall job due to increasing stress involving the media, he said.

He told grand jurors about a post-election trip he and his wife, Lantigua and his girlfriend, Lorenza Ortega, along with Bernardo Pena, a Lawrence businessman, and his girlfriend, took to the Dominican Republic. They all stayed in Pena’s home in Santiago during the November 2009 trip, Degnan said.

At the federal grand jury, Degnan acknowledged local companies were being asked for donations for the Dominican Republic and that he did some of the asking. When asked about the solicitation of the trash truck for Tenares, Degnan said, “Obviously it was the mayor’s idea,” according to the testimony read in court yesterday.

Degnan was also asked if he knew of Lantigua taking any bribes. “To the best of my knowledge, I have never seen any bribes to the Mayor of Lawrence,” Degnan said.

Walczak, during his testimony yesterday, said after the meeting with McCann and Degnan, he found a 1999 trash truck that was suitable for donation. Despite Degnan’s request for two trucks, Walczak said he was only going with one. He estimated the truck could be sold at auction for $1,500 to $2,500.

When asked by prosecutor Michael Patten why he didn’t want to go to the police, Walczak said he didn’t want to lose the multi-million dollar contract with the city of Lawrence. “We did have a truck available. I did not want to get into a legal battle,” Walczak said, later adding he didn’t wanted to get off on the right foot with Lantigua’s new administration.

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