LAWRENCE — Jose L. Santiago — an ally of Mayor William Lantigua of Lawrence and also a former state representative and former Methuen police officer — warned an ex-girlfriend, a prosecutor said yesterday, that if she broke off their relationship “you’re not going to be with anyone.’’
Santiago, 53, was charged Monday in Lawrence District Court with violating a restraining order the woman took out against him. He was arrested early Saturday outside an Essex Street club after a friend of his former girlfriend spotted Santiago in the parking lot, the prosecutor said.
He was released on personal recognizance, despite the prosecutor’s request that the judge impose a $10,000 cash bail, saying the defendant has a history of domestic violence against women and had beaten his former girlfriend while they dated, once in front of her child.
Kimberly Gillespie, assistant Essex district attorney, said Santiago also bragged that he had political connections. “You’ll see, I’m well known. . . . Nobody is going to believe you,’’ he told his former girlfriend, the prosecutor said.
Michael Kostyla, Santiago’s attorney, said his client denies the allegations that he violated the restraining order. Kostyla also said that previous assault charges against his client in connection with other relationships were dismissed.
Santiago’s ties to Lantigua have been in the headlines recently. The embattled mayor appointed Santiago to a public works job once held by Thomas Sapienza, a veteran employee who went on unpaid leave to care for his terminally ill wife.
Santiago was hired by the Lantigua administration last December, on the same day that Lantigua fired Sapienza. After a 19-month battle with lung cancer, Heather Sapienza died last Thursday.
“There’s lots of personal tragedy here, a woman passing away after battling cancer, another the victim of domestic violence, and the reckless conduct of the mayor makes it all much worse,” said Marc Laplante, a Lawrence city councilor.
Through his attorney, Sapienza declined to comment Monday. “He’s tired, he can’t sleep, and he misses her,” said Taylor Dauksewicz, Sapienza’s North Andover-based attorney. “He just lost everything in a matter of months,” she said, adding that Sapienza’s house is being foreclosed on.
Some Lawrence residents have called for the mayor to step down in the wake of state and federal investigations into allegations of corruption since he was elected in 2009.
In September, two officials close to Lantigua were indicted on charges including conspiracy and extortion. Both have pleaded not guilty, and Lantigua has not been charged with any crimes.
On Wednesday, Lantigua was served with a $5,475 lien for failing to pay state income tax in 2011. The Massachusetts Department of Revenue released the lien Friday.
Lantigua said last month that he will run for a second term. He did not return calls Monday seeking comment.
Santiago is due back in court March 7 for a pretrial hearing.
His brother and daughter, both of whom were in the courtroom during the arraignment, left the courthouse without commenting.
Jackie Marmol, who has lived in Lawrence for more than 20 years, expressed her support for Santiago outside the courthouse, saying he was once her boss when she worked at the Methuen Police Department as a translator.
“He was a fantastic boss, did a very good job,” she said. In addressing the allegations against him, she said: “We weren’t there; I wasn’t there. That’s part of his personal life, and I’m not saying anything negative about him.”