EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Merrimack Valley

December 31, 2012

Gunless cop to return to police force


After his conviction, Romero called for Fraser’s firing, saying police officers should be held to a higher standard and he didn’t feel Fraser could carry out the duties of a police officer any longer.

An internal affairs investigation concluded Fraser violated three department rules and regulations: conduct unbecoming of an officer, violation of state law, and failure to obey those rules both on and off duty.

The city paid Leblanc to oversee Fraser’s termination hearing and issue a decision. Lantigua officially approved Leblanc’s findings on Sept. 29. That same day, Lantigua ordered two police officers indicted on felony charges remain on the city’s payroll during their suspensions.

Those two indicted officers, Deputy Police Chief Melix Bonilla and Officer P.J. Lopez, are both political supporters of the mayor. In official letters, Lantigua told both officers that while the charges they face are serious, they are both innocent until proven guilty and can stay on paid administrative leave until further notice.

Bonilla earns $140,000 annually and Lopez makes $62,000 per year.

On Sept. 11, Bonilla was indicted on felony charges connected to an ongoing investigation into Lantigua and his administration. Bonilla is accused of swapping 13 city-owned vehicles for four Chevrolets with a Lantigua friend. The state Inspector General said the city lost $30,000 in the deal.

Bonilla was Lantigua’s campaign manager and was promoted from sergeant to deputy chief after Lantigua became mayor in January 2010.

On Sept. 26, Lopez was indicted by a federal grand jury. He is accused of making arrangements with a tow company to have cars he ticketed towed in exchange for a “stream of benefits” including a $4,000 snow plow. He faces charges of bribery, making false statements to a federal agent and obstruction of justice in connection with an unnamed towing company in Lawrence.

Fraser could not be reached for comment for this story.

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

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