VALLEY PATRIOT EDITORIAL
For years we have called for investigations into what State Rep. Jim Lyons called the “criminal enterprise” of the Lantigua Administration in Lawrence. For years we have detailed in this newspaper the myriad of questionable and sometimes blatant criminal actions of those on the taxpayers dime at Lawrence City Hall.
Now, Lantigua’s Chief of Staff, Lenny Degnan has been convicted on bribery, conspiracy, and corruption charges in connection with the trash trucks that were illegally “gifted” to the Dominican Republic.
When prosecutors made closing statements, they told the jury that the criminal trial was about Lenny Degnan, not Willie Lantigua or DPW Director Frank McCann, “this is not their time,” he told them.
We believe their time has come.
Anyone who was involved in this and other conspiracies in Lawrence ought to be indicted and brought to justice (unless they have cooperated with law enforcement for a plea). Especially considering:
* The Patriot Ambulance contract that was renewed early after two ambulances were sent to the Dominican Republic (filled with medical equipment).
* The cars that Lawrence Police confiscated from drug dealers but ended up in the Dominican instead of being auctioned off as public property as required by state law. Deputy Police Chief Melix Bonilla has been charged with that crime, but Lantigua, Degnan and others have not.
* The public firing and humiliations of dozens of city workers whose only crime was being hired under a previous mayor.
* The hiring of unqualified and unethical people to be in charge of the taxpayer’s money and Lawrence’s delivery of public services.
* Cash from city parking garages being deposited into Lantigua’s campaign account after Lantigua ordered that only cash was to be accepted by the city’s parking garages and lots.
* Layoffs and demotions of police and firefighters after receiving the $35 million bailout loan.
* A worker’s compensation award for Frank McCann’s wife while the attorney opposing her case for the city had several side relationships with McCann.
* Lantigua and Attorney Charlie Boddy concealing public records on how much money was paid to Attorney’s Carmine and William DiAdamo who, ironically enough are also the landlords to the School Dept. and filed a lawsuit against the City of Lawrence.
We believe jail is the appropriate place for former Chief of Staff Lenny Degnan.
When Degnan had power he bullied people, threatened their jobs, threatened their families jobs, and took great glee out of getting even with anyone who said ‘no’ to him for any reason. He was a bully. And he is where bullies belong, behind bars.
But, while Degnan was the enforcer of the Lantigua criminal enterprise, many others planned, plotted, and executed dozens of schemes over four years and they belong sitting in a cell right next to their former colleague.
If we are ever to have our faith restored in the city government of Lawrence, those who abused their power for personal or political gain must be held accountable. Those coerced to participate or were wrongly accused must be exonerated.
But none of that can happen without more investigations, more indictments and more public trials.
We call on prosecutors and law enforcement to continue to investigate and bring these people to justice.