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Merrimack Valley

October 8, 2013

Brief defense made in Lopez corruption trial

Closing arguments, possible verdict today in city cop case

LAWRENCE — The defense attorney for P.J. Lopez, a Lawrence police officer on trial for bribery, obstruction of justice and lying to a federal agent, called two defense witnesses yesterday — two men who both worked at M & W towing and both described themselves as “good friends” of the 16-year police officer.

A previously filed witness list by lawyer Alex Cain of North Andover indicated Lopez planned to call several fellow police officers in his defense.

And Cain previously said Lopez’s defense against allegations he took kickbacks from M & W Towing Co. of Lawrence was that he was “acting at the direction of his superior officers.”

However, in court yesterday, jurors briefly heard from Carlos Miranda, a former M & W tow truck driver, and Alexander Cabrera, a mechanic who previously rented an auto bay at M & W.

Both denied any knowledge of reduced car sales to the officer, a $4,000 snow plow being given to Lopez or noticing increase in city ordered tows Lopez is accused of arranging with M & W owner Wilson Calixto.

Both recalled a 2002 Nissan Altima that Miranda once owned and Lopez allegedly purchased being on the lot at M & W.

Miranda also testified that Lopez installed a surveillance system at his home, never charging him for labor. In December 2012, Miranda said he worked free of charge on a remodeling project at Lopez’s home. He also gave the officer, who has been on paid administrative leave since his Sept. 25, 2012 indictment, money to fill his old tank in the cold weather.

“It’s fair to say you’d rather be on the good side of a police officer rather than the bad side,” prosecutor Andrew Lelling asked Cabrera on cross examination.

Cabrera replied “the good side.”

Closing arguments in the case are scheduled for 10 a.m. today. Afterwards, Judge Mark Wolf will instruct jurors and then they will be sent to deliberate.

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