- LAWRENCE Case dismissed against former city engineer  

Theodoro Rosario

LAWRENCE — Charges against a former city engineer accused of exposing himself to a homeless man in a hotel room were dismissed Thursday when the man failed to show up for the trial in Lowell District Court.

Theodoro Rosario resigned from his $80,000-a-year job Oct. 7, a day after he was arraigned on a charge of indecent exposure, a misdemeanor.

The arraignment came nine months after the alleged incident, in which police said Rosario, then 51, used beer and cigarettes to entice the 24-year-old man off the streets in Lawrence to a hotel room in Tewksbury. Rosario got into a bed, exposed himself and offered the man money to join him, the man told police.

The Eagle-Tribune does not publish the names of victims of alleged sexual assaults. 

Mayor Daniel Rivera requested Rosario's resignation immediately after he was arraigned. Rivera said Thursday that Rosario would not be returning to the job, which is now held by Milagros Puellos, an environmental engineer who began work Monday. She earns $80,925.

Rosario's resignation ended the public service of a city employee who was one of Rivera's top aides in both government and politics.

He was a regular target for Rivera's opponents because of his high-profile work in Rivera's 2013 mayoral campaign and because he was unable to pass the test and obtain the certification required by the state to serve as city engineer, even more than two years after Rivera hired him. Rivera gave Rosario the engineering job after firing his predecessor in the post, Andrew Wall, because Wall also had been unable to pass the tests and obtain the certification. Wall was a public works employee for 17 years.

Several city councilors, led by Modesto Maldonado, regularly called on Rivera to fire Rosario after he became clear he would not be able to pass the test or get the certification. The council cut funding for the job from the city budget in June 2015, but Rivera kept Rosario on the payroll by shifting money in the public works budget.

Tewksbury police said Rosario tried to use his ties to Rivera when they arrived at Room 228 at the Motel 6 on Main Street at 5:30 a.m. on Jan. 16. Police arrived after the homeless man rejected Rosario's alleged attempt to seduce him and the encounter turned sour.

“I work for the mayor, everyone in Lawrence knows me,” Rosario told Sgt. Thomas Cooke, according to a report Cooke filed. “He again told me he worked for the mayor of Lawrence and had just returned from a two-week business trip to the Dominican Republic with him.”

Rosario joined Rivera, then-state Rep. Marcos Devers and Lane Glenn, the president of Northern Essex Community College, on a five-day trip to the Dominican Republic that began Jan. 11, 2016. He was arrested in the hotel room at about 6 a.m. on Jan. 16, the day after the group returned.

According to the police report, the incident began when Rosario met the homeless man while the man was panhandling outside a 7-Eleven in Lawrence at about 3:30 a.m. Rosario later told police he was up at that hour because his wife was angry over his trip to the Dominican Republic and had locked him out of the house, the police report says.

“(We're) in the same boat,” Rosario told the man, referring to the fact that he also was without a home for the night, Cooke's report says. Rosario told the man his name was Ambriore and offered to buy him beer and cigarettes and get them a hotel room for the rest of the night.

Lowell District Court Judge Stacey Fortes dismissed the indecent exposure charge against Rosario when the man failed to show up to testify against him.