By Bill Kirk
---- — METHUEN — Lawrence Mayor William Lantigua weighed in on the search for a new city solicitor yesterday, saying one of the candidates for the job has misled the Methuen City Council in order to get the job while at the same time “falsely attacking” him.
Lantigua sent a memo to the Methuen City Council, with a copy to The Eagle-Tribune, in an effort to refute statements made by city solicitor candidate Richard D’Agostino to the council and The Eagle-Tribune.
“I am compelled to share that I am extremely dismayed that an individual whom I liked, trusted and enjoyed a long relationship with, both as a client and friend, now falsely attacks me,” Lantigua wrote. “He intends to intentionally mislead the Methuen City Council for the purpose of securing employment.”
On Tuesday night, D’Agostino, one of two finalists for the city solicitor’s job to replace Peter McQuillan, who was not reappointed, told the City Council during a public interview that he was fired by Lantigua because he wouldn’t cooperate with a “corrupt mayor.”
D’Agostino, 58, of Salem, N.H., is the former assistant city solicitor in Lawrence. He says he was fired in April 2012 after returning from 16 months of medical leave.
“I stood up to a corrupt mayor,” he told the council. “My record is impeccable and I’ll stand behind it.”
On Thursday, he spoke with reporters and editors at The Eagle-Tribune, saying he is cooperating with law enforcement authorities in an ongoing investigation of Lantigua.
“Someone needs to stand up and at least say, ‘No,’ to the reign of terror that’s gone on in Lawrence,” D’Agostino said.
In Lantigua’s response, he refused to address some of the comments made by D’Agostino.
“Out of decorum, I shall not address his ... claims that he was ‘fired by a corrupt mayor,’” he wrote. “I shall suffice it to say that these assertions are as meritless as his claim of being fired.”
Lantigua said in yesterday’s letter that D’Agostino was not fired, but left on his own accord after coming to a settlement over a workman’s compensation claim.
“Contrary to his assertions, Attorney D’Agostino was never fired by the city,” Lantigua said. “Instead, D’Agostino settled his claims with Lawrence and both parties went their separate ways.”
It’s a version of events that D’Agostino continues to challenge.
He said last night that he stands by his comments made to the Methuen City Council and The Eagle-Tribune.
“I tell the truth,” he said. “I stand by my comments and my comments are verifiable. I’m not going to litigate against the city of Lawrence in the newspaper. Mr. Lantigua has never told the truth yet. If he wants to have an epiphany about telling the truth, there are three grand juries awaiting his appearance.”
D’Agostino further stated that he will have his “day in court.”
He said he has an ongoing case against the city over violation of the worker’s compensation law, breach of contract and unjust termination.
“We are going to try it in a court of law where people have to testify under oath and be truthful,” he said. “This is a very dangerous move on his part where I have a case against the city. Is he trying to damage my future employability?”