EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Merrimack Valley

May 9, 2014

Bonilla trial delayed, reset for late May

LAWRENCE - The corruption trial for suspended police officer Melix Bonilla was delayed earlier this week - but not for long.

The extortion, fraud and conspiracy trial is now scheduled to start on Wednesday, May 28.

The trial was expected to start next Monday, but defense attorney Alex Cain of Andover asked for a continuance earlier this week as he is still reviewing evidence that was recently turned over in the case.

The former deputy police chief is accused of swapping 13 city-owned vehicles for four Chevrolet Impalas with a friend of former Mayor William Lantigua. Bonilla is a political ally of Lantigua and served as Lantigua’s campaign manager.

In January 2010, shortly after taking office, Lantigua promoted Bonilla from sergeant to Deputy Police Chief. The promotion came with a $45,000 pay raise.

In recent weeks, Cain said he’s revealed “additional discovery” in the case, including police department internal affairs reports.

The internal affairs reports detail investigations involving Jay Jackson, who was terminated as both auxiliary police chief and civilian facilities manager at the police department. Jackson is described as a key witness in Bonilla’s trial.

Called before the Essex County Grand Jury, Jackson testified that Bonilla threatened to have him fired if he didn’t help him with the illegal car swap.

Jackson said he feared losing his job, his only source of income and health insurance after he suffered a heart attack four years earlier, according to grand jury minutes.

Jackson was fired from his police department jobs after new Mayor Daniel Rivera succeeded Lantigua on Jan. 2.

Jackson has since filed a civil lawsuit against the city, saying he was fired in retaliation for testifying against Bonilla.

Jackson’s lawsuit, filed on April 17, also says the city retaliated against him by illegally releasing private and personal information about him to the press and public, including the Police Department internal affairs reports. He is seeking at least $105,000 and other unknown and unspecified damages, according to the lawsuit.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Merrimack Valley

Eagle-Tribune News Videos
Photos of the Week