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Lawrence city councilor calls for mayor's resignation after ex-aide's arraignment


SALEM (AP) - A Lawrence city councilor is among a group of people who are calling for Mayor William Lantigua to resign amid indictments against two city employees who have ties to the leader. 

"The indictments we heard against those close to him were the final straw," City Councilor Marc Laplante said as he addressed the media. 

Laplante said that even though Lantigua has not been charged in the case, action needs to be taken. 

"Why wait until he gets charged? The city is divided and the moral authority has been compromised," says Laplante.

Laplante spoke to the media on Wednesday, the same day that two associates of Mayor Lantigua were arraigned on corruption charges.

The mayor's former chief of staff, Leonard Degnan, and Deputy Police Chief Melix Bonilla pleaded not guilty in Salem Superior Court. They were released on no bail, but ordered to forfeit their passports.

Degnan and Bonilla were indicted Tuesday in what prosecutors said is an ongoing investigation.

Degnan faces charges including solicitation of a bribe, extortion and conspiracy. Prosecutors said he pressured a city trash contractor to donate a truck to Lantigua's native Dominican Republic.

The charges against Bonilla include fraudulent conversion of city property, conspiracy and extortion. Prosecutors say he swapped 13 vehicles the city seized in drug busts to a car dealer with close ties to Lantigua. The state Inspector General says the deal for four cars cost the city $30,000.

Bonilla says he hasn't done anything wrong.

Both men are due back in court on Nov. 8.