LAWRENCE — The Essex County Grand Jury has issued an additional criminal charge against Jamel Bonilla, the 18-year-old son of Deputy police Chief Melix Bonilla, and another local man allegedly involved in an Oct. 21 armed robbery.
Bonilla and Jonathan Vargas, 22, of 240 Water St., were both indicted for carrying a firearm without a license on Friday.
Bonilla, Vargas and Joseph Rodriguez, 18, of 8 Mason St., were already indicted earlier this winter in connection with the armed robbery of two men on Caulkins Court in Lawrence.
The incident was allegedly a planned drug deal that fell apart. The victims previously agreed to pay $3,000 for 200 Percocet pills, prosecutors said.
Bonilla admitted to police he was carrying the silver handgun when the incident occurred. Vargas allegedly took the handgun from him and beat one of the victims with it.
Deputy Chief Bonilla, when promised immunity from prosecution by the District Attorney's office, admitted the gun belonged to him. It's unclear how the younger Bonilla obtained the handgun, however.
All three were already indicted on charges of armed robbery and Vargas also for assault and battery with a dangerous weapon.
The indictments mean the case will be moved from district court to superior court, where the penalties upon conviction are more severe.
All three men are scheduled for arraignment in Salem Superior Court on April 7.
The case is being investigated by state police because a son of a Lawrence police officer is involved. Timothy Shyne, a prosecutor from Plymouth County, is assigned to the case to avoid any appearance of an ethical conflict.