EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Merrimack Valley

December 30, 2012

Merrimack Valley Year in Review


— Bill Cantwell

Mayor Lantigua’s administration under grand jury microscope

A grand jury investigation of Lawrence Mayor William Lantigua and his City Hall administration heated up.

On Sept. 11, Leonard Degnan, Lantigua’s former chief of staff, and Deputy Police Chief Melix Bonilla, his former campaign manager, were indicted on felony bribery, conspiracy and fraud charges.

Degnan is accused of forcing the city’s waste hauler to donate a trash truck to Lantigua’s native country - the Dominican Republic.

Bonilla is the alleged architect of an illegal car swap deal that benefited Lantigua friend and political supporter, Bernardo Pena.

Witnesses called before the grand jury included Lantigua’s live-in girlfriend, Lorenza Ortega, Patrick Blanchette, Lantigua’s top City Hall aide and the late Richard Fielding, chairman of the city’s licensing board.

Earlier this month, Bonilla’s defense attorney filed a motion and accompanying transcript that provided great insight into the Lantigua grand jury.

— Jill Harmacinski

Kathleen O’Connor Ives, Diana DiZoglio are victorious

The 1st Essex State Senate seat, which covers Methuen, Haverhill, Merrimac, Amesbury, Salisbury, Newburyport and part of North Andover, was left vacant in April when Steven Baddour resigned to join a law firm in Boston. Seven people contested the seat — three Democrats, two Republicans and two unenrolled candidates.

Newburyport City Councilor Kathleen O’Connor Ives won the Democratic nomination over former Methuen Mayor William Manzi and Haverhill businessman Tim Coco and emerged victorious in the Nov. 6 general election, shifting the base of the seat from Methuen, where the past two state senators had called home, to the coast.

In North Andover, State Rep. David Torrisi lost to challenger Diana DiZoglio of Methuen in the Democratic Sept. 6 primary. She then went on to handily defeat North Andover Republican Karin Rhoton, a former School Committee member, in the Nov. 6 general election.

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