, Newburyport, MA

Local News

March 29, 2014

Degnan jury goes home for weekend

Prosecutor says trial is about 'cloud of political corruption over Lawrence'

LAWRENCE — The 1999 International trash truck that leaked oil was considered junk and obsolete by industry standards. But a prosecutor said yesterday, the tired truck was viewed as “political treasure” to Lawrence Mayor William Lantigua’s administration.

Lantigua’s former chief of staff, Leonard Degnan, has been on trial all week for allegedly pressuring a city contractor, Allied Waste, to donate the truck to sent to Tenares, a poor city in Lantigua’ s native country of the Dominican Republic.

Degnan, of North Andover, is charged with bribery, extortion and conspiracy. Jurors got the case around 1 p.m. yesterday and will continue deliberations Monday morning.

In his closing argument yesterday, Prosecutor Michael Patten said the bribery, extortion and corruption case is not just about a trash truck. It’s about “the cloud of political corruption over Lawrence” during then-Mayor Lantigua’s administration. Degnan was Lantigua’s “right hand” and he spoke to him on a daily basis, he said.

Patten urged jurors to find Degnan guilty on all charges, saying he used “cuteness” to criminally secure the trash truck. During a December 2009 meeting at Degnan’s insurance company office, Degnan told Stanley Walczak, general manager of Allied Waste, he could void the city’s three-year, $6.4 million waste disposal contract. Then Degnan hit up Walczak for two trash trucks to send to Tenares. Walczak managed to get one.

The meeting occurred before Lantigua was even sworn into office and Degnan was on the payroll as his chief of staff, Patten said.

“They are not even in office yet and they are trying to reward the people of Tenares, not the people of Lawrence,” said Patten, noting Degnan told grand jurors “tons” of people from Tenares now live Lawrence. The trash truck was “political treasure” to “Team Lantigua.” And Degnan was captain of the team, he said.

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