METHUEN — Solicitor finalist Richard D’Agostino’s job interview with the City Council began in typical fashion Tuesday night. But about halfway through the 45-minute session, D’Agostino received an unexpected text message from the man he hopes to replace.
In the text, City Solicitor Peter McQuillan accused D’Agostino of lying to councilors. D’Agostino said he didn’t read the message until after he left City Hall. But he believes it is proof McQuillan is tampering with the search for his replacement from the sidelines.
“I think it’s unprofessional conduct and it’s also unethical conduct as a municipal employee,” said D’Agostino, who is one of two finalists for the solicitor job. “You want to say the process is tainted? Boy, there’s a lot of taint here. He’s injected himself into the process.”
McQuillan yesterday confirmed that he sent the text message to D’Agostino during the interview, admitting too that it was impulsive. He flatly denied D’Agostino’s charge that he’s working to influence the selection of his successor.
“That absolutely astounds me,” said McQuillan. “That is an absolute, outright lie. I would never do that to anyone.”
McQuillan’s comments didn’t stop D’Agostino yesterday from calling for a city investigation into his conduct. D’Agostino also said he will file a complaint against McQuillan with the state’s Board Bar of Overseers, which investigates complaints against lawyers.
D’Agostino’s interview with councilors lasted from roughly 6:30 to 7:15 p.m. During the interview, D’Agostino was asked by City Councilor Jamie Atkinson about a last-minute revocation of one his work references, Lawrence District Court Clerk Andrew Gradzewicz.
“This is news to me,” D’Agostino told the council.
McQuillan, who was watching a live Internet stream of the interviews from his home, sent a text message from his work cell phone to D’Agostino at 6:53 p.m. “That’s a lie he tried to contact Gradzewicz today!!!!” wrote McQuillan.