EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Merrimack Valley

September 20, 2013

Lantigua ally indicted for parking garage thefts, campaign work on city clock

SALEM, Mass. — Three months after his arrest, Justo Garcia, a city parking garage worker and campaign photographer for Mayor William Lantigua, was indicted by an Essex County Grand Jury for allegedly stealing from the city and doing campaign work on city time.

Lantigua himself was called to testify before the grand jury that indicted Garcia.

Garcia, 60, was indicted on larceny and related charges for allegedly stealing an unspecified amount of money from the city-owned Museum Square parking garage where he worked, and submitting fraudulent receipts for money he allegedly accepted for monthly parking passes. Garcia is additionally charged with faking his timecard to say he was working when he was actually campaigning for Lantigua.

He was initially arraigned in Lawrence District Court on June 6. Now, due to the indictments, Garcia faces arraignment in Salem Superior Court. The penalties he faces at the Superior Court level if convicted are more severe. It was unclear yesterday when Garcia will be arraigned in Superior Court.

Garcia is no longer working in the parking garages but remains on the city payroll as a public works employee, said Sal Tabit, his defense attorney.

Tabit said in the wake of the indictments, Garcia “maintains and is adamant that he never stole money from the city of Lawrence or the parking garages.”

Garcia was arrested after a local, state and FBI investigation that involved undercover agents, marked bills, a hidden camera in the parking garage office, around-the-clock surveillance and even a GPS installation.

However, Tabit said he has not seen “any of the evidence outlined in the initial complaint given to the court,” including video taken during the investigation. “It’s hard for me to comment until we begin the discovery process,” Tabit said yesterday.

In addition to Lantigua, city Finance Director Mark Iannello testified before the grand jury investigating Garcia and the parking lot theft.

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