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Embattled aide bolts gov for Lantigua staff

Embattled aide bolts gov for Lantigua staff
ron bell

By Hillary Chabot | Tuesday, February 28, 2012 | | Local Politics

A former top aide to Gov. Deval Patrick arrested on drunken driving charges in October has landed a job as chief of staff to embattled Lawrence Mayor William Lantigua, the Herald has learned.

Ron Bell, the governor’s former community affairs director, started work yesterday for Lantigua.

“I hired him for his organization skill, his background and his ability to work with the community,” said Lantigua, who declined to say how much he is paying Bell. “I’ve been searching for a chief of staff for several months, and I think he’s a good match.”

Lantigua said Bell would strengthen his administration, which has been roiled by a corruption probe launched by federal and state authorities last year.

“We haven’t done anything wrong,” Lantigua said about the probe. “I’m very comfortable I made the right choice. I’m pretty sure he’ll do a good job.”

Patrick spokeswoman Kimberly Haberlin confirmed that Bell, who had been on administrative leave since his October arrest, left the administration yesterday to accept the chief of staff position.

A call to Bell was not immediately returned.

Bell, who earned $97,000 a year for the governor, had worked for Patrick since the 2006 campaign.

Bell was arrested last fall after being stopped for alleged erratic driving, police said. Police said Bell, 48, was swerving and nearly hit a median strip on Boylston Street before he was pulled over. He had a “moderate” odor of alcohol, his eyes were “glassy and bloodshot,” and he failed three field sobriety tests, according to a police report. Bell refused to take a Breathalyzer test, police said.

Bell’s attorney Herbert Cohen has said his client suffers from gout and that may have contributed to his inability to pass the sobriety tests. He has had health problems, including a heart attack.

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