EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

June 20, 2013

Lantigua to fire cop charged with child rape

By Jill Harmacinski

---- — LAWRENCE — Mayor William Lantigua is moving to terminate Carlos Gonzalez, one of three Lawrence police officers who remains on the city payroll while facing criminal charges.

Gonzalez, 48, is charged with child rape in both Florida and New Hampshire. He’s currently being held on a $165,000 bond in a jail in Polk County, Fla. Last Friday, Gonzalez was also indicted for sexually assaulting a girl under the age of 13 in Salem, N.H., in 1992 and 1993.

A termination hearing for Gonzalez is scheduled at City Hall tomorrow morning, according to City Attorney Charles Boddy. Such a hearing must be held before the city can officially terminate Gonzalez, a 25-year police officer who earns $60,000 annually.

Gonzalez was placed on paid administrative leave on Dec. 17 after the alleged victim went to Lawrence police and reported she was sexually assaulted. The city has continued paying Gonzalez, even though he’s in jail and despite police Chief John Romero’s requests of Lantigua to cut off Gonzalez’s salary.

Lantigua, as mayor, is the appointing authority and ultimately decides if a police officer will be fired.

It appears two other police officers with criminal troubles and political ties to Lantigua will remain on the payroll, however.

Deputy Chief Melix Bonilla, who earns $140,000 annually, was indicted by the Essex County Grand Jury as part of an ongoing investigation into Lantigua and his administration. Bonilla, Lantigua’s former campaign manager, 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.

Officer PJ Lopez, another Lantigua supporter, was indicted by a federal grand jury for allegedly making arrangements with a local tow company to have cars he ticketed towed in exchange for a “stream of benefits,” including a $4,000 snow plow.

Previously, Lantigua allowed police officer Daron Fraser to spend 29 months on paid administrative leave, racking up $150,000 without working and continuing to accrue vacation and sick time and retirement benefits.

On Feb. 27, Gonzalez was arrested and charged by Haines City, Fla. fugitive from justice warrant. He is charged in Haines City, which is located between Tampa and Orlando, with sexual battery by a custodian on a person between the ages of 12 and 18 and selling, giving or serving alcohol to a person under 21. The victim, who has not been identified by police, said she was assaulted in a private home on July 22, 2012.

Last week, more than three months after his arrest, Rockingham County grand jurors handed down the indictment against Gonzalez for aggravated felonious sexual assault. The indictments alleged between Nov. 1, 1992 and April 30, 1993, Gonzalez sexually assaulted a girl who was then 11 years old.

Salem, N.H. police reopened a previous sexual assault complaint against Gonzalez after he was charged by Haines City police.

Lantigua did not return a message seeking comment for this story.

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