Lawrence Mayor Sued By State Officials For Alleged Corruption
Controversial Lawrence Mayor William Lantigua is being sued by Attorney General Martha Coakley’s office over claims that he violated several campaign finance laws and accepted thousands of dollars in alleged “illegal cash.”
Among the complaints in the lawsuit against Lantigua, which was filed in Suffolk Superior Court on Tuesday, are charges that he allegedly accepted 16 cashier’s checks or money orders worth more than $50, a potential violation of state law, during his first run for the seat between 2008 and 2010, according to a statement from the Attorney General, in conjunction with the Office of Campaign and Political Finances.
Coakley claims that Lantigua and his committee accepted more than $14,000 in potentially illegal cash contributions, but failed to keep accurate accounts of each deposit that they received in 2009.
Lantigua’s office had no comment on the allegations brought on by Coakley’s office, and the Office of Campaign and Political Finance, according to the State House News Service.
Coakley’s complaint further alleges that Lantigua failed to report nearly $20,000 worth of expenditures from his campaign account during 2009, including a more than $9,000 payment for advertisements on the radio.
The complaint also points to controversy over Lantigua’s choice of employees during his run in 2009. According to the complaint, Lantigua permitted Methuen police officer Elvin Alarcon to act as his campaign’s finance director and Lorenza Ortega, who worked in the City of Lawrence’s personnel department, to serve as treasurer. State campaign finance laws prohibit public employees from soliciting or receiving contributions for any candidate for public office.
This is the second time this year a lawsuit has been brought against Lantigua from Coakley’s office. In January, Coakley and the OCPF sued Lantigua for failing to file a 2011 campaign finance report. Lantigua later paid a $5,000 civil fine and filed the missing report.
The latest lawsuit seeks similar payments and asks the court to order Lantigua to forfeit certain contributions that were allegedly inaccurate during the times outlined in the complaint. The lawsuit also seeks to fine Lantigua, based on the various violations, to cover the costs of the investigation.
Lantigua’s name has long been mired in controversy. Past reports show that constituents have lobbied to recall the elected official on four separate occasions. A 2012 Boston story quoted those looking to remove Lantigua calling him “a dictator.” Despite constant claims of corruption, he refused to step down.
One of Lantigua’s supporters was recently arrested on larceny charges for allegedly stealing money from a city-owned parking garage, where he was hired by the mayor, reports showed. In September, two of Lantigua’s top aids were also the target of FBI officials, and were indicted on extortion and conspiracy charges, but both plead not guilty in court.
Lantigua was also under the spotlight back in June after a woman he had an alleged run-in with outside of a liquor store was found dead the following day. Police and investigators said the incident was a strange “coincidence,” and that the “unattended” death was not connected to the mayor.