By Keith Eddings firstname.lastname@example.org
---- — LAWRENCE — A six-foot-eight bouncer who worked at a Broadway nightclub pleaded guilty this week to attacking a man in a fried chicken restaurant adjoining the club while allegedly threatening to kill him for snitching on Mayor William Lantigua.
The bouncer, David Figueroa, 26, initially pleaded not guilty to assault and witness intimidation charges in connection with the attack against Antonio Arevalo, which was recorded by the restaurant’s security camera and by the voice mail of an Eagle-Tribune reporter Arevalo called as the attack was underway.
On Tuesday, after a jury had been empaneled and his trial was scheduled to begin in Lawrence District Court, Figueroa pleaded guilty to the assault, which left Arevalo with a broken arm. The witness intimidation charge was dismissed earlier.
Sentencing is scheduled for Tuesday. Figueroa’s lawyer Alexander Cain is seeking a 60-day sentence, equaling the time Figueroa served when a judge revoked the $2,500 bail Figueroa posted after the April 30, 2011, attack. If granted, Figueroa likely would serve no additional time.
Prosecutor Beth McCarthy is seeking a one-year sentence with six months to be served.
In January 2011, four months before the attack, Arevalo unsuccessfully sought a restraining order against Lantigua, telling a District Court judge that an earlier confrontation with the mayor in a downtown nightclub left him fearful for his safety.
The court declined to issue the restraining order. Arevalo then sought another restraining order against Patrick Blanchette, Lantigua’s director of economic development. That also was denied.
Arevalo, a 45-year-old Spanish language translator, is an outspoken political opponent of Lantigua’s and often observed and chronicled the mayor’s visits to local nightclubs and restaurants, sometimes at close range. He told police he believed the attack against him was motivated by his opposition to Lantigua, an account that appeared to be supported by the cell phone recording Arevalo left on the Eagle-Tribune voice mail at the time of the attack at 4 a.m.
The voice mail recording includes the voice of a man who twice accuses Arevalo of being “a (expletive deleted) snitch.” The recording also mentions Lantigua, but the context is not audible. The voice mail recording appears to coincide with the video recording of the attack by the security camera at the Crown Fried Chicken restaurant, which shows Arevalo holding up a cell phone as Figueroa approaches him. The restaurant is next to the La Guira nightclub at 205 Broadway, where Figueroa was working as a bouncer that night.
“He targeted me,” Arevalo said after the attack. “He’s seen me plenty of times. But since he found out I took the mayor to court, he turned on me.”
A police report about the attack says Arevalo tried to use a small aluminum flashlight to protect himself, but Figueroa took it from him and beat him with it on his arms and head. Arevalo later took a cab to the Holy Family Hospital in Methuen, where he was treated for a fractured arm.
At his arrest a few hours after the attack, Figueroa denied assaulting Arevalo but told police Arevalo had provoked him by taking pictures of his effort to break up a fight outside La Guira earlier that night, according to the police report. He told police he thought Arevalo was “crazy,” the report says.
Figueroa was released on $2,500 bail, but was arrested again a few months later after he allegedly threatened his girlfriend, Jeanette Costillo. A judge ruled that the new arrest violated the terms of his bail and ordered him held for 60 days at the Middleton House of Correction.
The charge that Figueroa threatened his girlfriend was dismissed.
Lantigua could not be reached yesterday. In an interview after Arevalo sought the restraining order against him, Lantigua dismissed Arevalo as a “nut” working with his political opponents to discredit his administration.
Arevalo said the six-month sentence the prosecutor is seeking is “pretty lenient.” He said part of what ails Lawrence nightclubs, many of which are known for their violence, is the “unprofessional security” provided by bouncers like Figueroa.
Figueroa could not be reached yesterday.
Arevalo has a civil suit pending against Figueroa.
Both men are Lawrence residents.