SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Nation/World

March 25, 2014

Ex-Lawrence mayor a focus in jury selection for Degnan corruption trial

Opening arguments today in former city hall aide's corruption trial

LAWRENCE — Leonard Degnan is the person on trial, but potential jurors in his corruption trial were asked yesterday what they’ve heard about his former boss, then-Mayor William Lantigua of Lawrence.

“Mostly a general underlying theme of corruption,” answered one woman, when asked by Judge Douglas Wilkins what she’d read about Lantigua and possible “improprieties in his administration.”

“I would tend to think they are true,” the woman added, before she was excused from jury duty.

Another man actually said he knew Lantigua because his parents had worked with him years ago at a computer company.

“I want to know why (Lantigua) hasn’t been indicted or taken into custody yet,” said the man, prior to being excused from jury service yesterday.

A 14-person jury was selected yesterday in Degnan’s criminal corruption trial at Lawrence Superior Court. Opening statements are expected this morning.

Degnan, Lantigua’s former chief of staff, is charged with bribery, extortion and conspiracy. He’s accused of pressuring a city contractor, Allied Waste, to donate a garbage truck to the Dominican Republic, Lantigua’s native country.

The alleged offenses occurred between Dec. 1, 2009, and March 31, 2010, when Allied Waste held a $6.4 million contract with the city of Lawrence.

Owner of a local insurance company, Degnan worked as a Lantigua’s chief of staff from January 2010 to May 2011 when he abruptly resigned. Shortly after giving his notice, Degnan testified before a federal grand jury investigating Lantigua.

Lantigua, his girlfriend, a host of city officials, police officers and Stanley Walczak, then Allied Waste general manager, are named on the prosecution and defense witness lists. James Landy, a personal friend of Degnan’s and his previous defense attorney, was removed from the witness list yesterday at the request of defense attorney Ted Cranney.

Wilkins told prospective jurors that the case should be completed and ready for jury deliberations by Tuesday, April 1. Testimony in the case will go full days on some days and end at 1 p.m. on others, he said.

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