EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Merrimack Valley

April 22, 2013

Chief wants to fire cop charged with rape

LAWRENCE — Police Chief John Romero has officially asked Mayor William Lantigua to fire Carlos Gonzalez, a 25-year police veteran who is in a Florida jail awaiting trial on a child rape charge. Gonzalez also remains under investigation on sexual assault allegations in southern New Hampshire.

Held on $165,000 bail, Gonzalez, 48, is barred from leaving Florida even if he is able to post bail, according to court documents.

Romero wrote a letter to Lantigua saying he believes there is sufficient cause to fire Gonzalez for “conduct unbecoming a police officer.” He asked Lantigua, the appointing authority, to “take the necessary steps to terminate Officer Gonzalez employment with the city.”

Lantigua did not return a message seeking comment on the termination request.

Gonzalez is one of three police officers Lantigua has left on the city payroll although they are on administrative leave from the department and facing criminal charges.

Deputy Police Chief Melix Bonilla, who earns $140,000 annually, and patrol officer Pedro J. Lopez, who earns $60,000 per year, are still on the payroll although they were both indicted on criminal charges in September. Gonzalez earns $60,000 annually.

Previously, Lantigua allowed police officer Daron Fraser to stay on paid leave for 29 months, earning $150,000 and continuing to accrue sick time and vacation benefits. Lantigua then allowed Fraser to return to work in January although he can’t carry a firearm because he was convicted of domestic assault and battery.

The state’s Inspector General, who investigates fraud, abuse and waste of taxpayer money, warned Lantigua the city should not be paying police officers who are off the job and indicted on criminal charges.

Earlier this year, Inspector General Glenn Cunha wrote to Lantigua telling him there is state law that gives him the “discretion” and “requires” a public employee under indictment to have their pay halted while suspended.

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