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Pittsfield Blogger Dan Valenti Cited For Harassment

Staff Reports
Updated on June 27, 2012 at 10:50 with a comment from Dan Valenti.

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — A local blogger was ordered to remove all references to Meredith Nilan after being dealt a harassment prevention order.

The Berkshire Eagle is reporting that Nilan, who was recently the subject of a highly publicized hit and run pedestrian accident, was granted the order in Central Berkshire District Court on Wednesday.

The order requires Valenti to remove any and all references to her as well as stay 100 yards away from her, stay away from her home and place of employment and refrain from any contact or abuse.

The order is effective until Monday, July 9, when a court hearing will take place.

Valenti, a former columnist for both The Berkshire Eagle and the Pittsfield Gazette, started his own blog, Planet Valenti, in 2010 and has made a name for himself with his brash criticism of local politics. Nilan, the daughter of Berkshire Superior Court Probation Chief Clifford Nilan, was the focus of numerous postings by Valenti. Those postings frequently speculated on her disposition, parentage, political pull and her actions before and after the incident.

On Wednesday, Valenti told iBerkshires via email that he had yet to see the judge's decision and he would have to see that before determining his next course of action.

"I found out about it while reading the comments on my blog, ironically," Valenti said. "I've never had any contact with Ms. Nilan nor do I intend that. I will also add that this case brings up an interesting First Amendment discussion."

Editor's note: The hit-and-run charge was dismissed. We have corrected the description.
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Hermann Alexander's Owner Pleads Not Guilty To Gambling Charge

Staff Reports
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The owner of Herman Alexander's Restaurant pleaded not guilty in Berkshire Superior Court on Monday to illegal gambling charges.

Mitchell Grossjung, 25, of Pittsfield had a not guilty plea entered on his behalf on a single count of keeping a place for registering bets. He was released by Judge Mary Lou Rup on $300 cash bail.

Grossjung allegedly provided illegal poker machines to his customers. The bar was raided on the night of April 27 because Police suspected the location was a "retail center of cocaine distribution."

The raid turned up little evidence of drug use except some corners of plastic bags that are used to hold small amount of cocaine, according to Police. The gambling charges stem from that raid.

Since the raid, Police have said that the homes of alleged cocaine dealers believed to be operating out of the bar have been raided and turned up more than 160 grams of cocaine. The Lyman Street bar's license was suspended for 60 day by the city's licensing board.
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North Adams Firefighters Battle Early Morning Blaze

Staff Reports
Above, the entire top floor of 69 Chase Ave. was in flames on Sunday morning. Left, the alleyway between the vacant structure and neighboring home is filled with debris that injured a firefighter running a line to the back of the property.
Update at 5 p.m.:

The firefighter injured in this morning's fire has been treated and released from North Adams Regional Hospital.

Fire Director Stephen Meranti said Firefighter Ray King was running a hose between the burning house at 69 Chase Ave. and the neighboring home when the wall collapsed.

"Ray King was stretching a line to the rear when the top of the rear wall fell and struck him in the head," said Meranti.

King is the firefighter who saved the pet duck from a fire on Hoosac Street earlier this month. He was taken to the hospital by North Adams Ambulance Service.

Firefighters were trying to protect buildings on three sides of the burning building at the time — residences on each side and a barn only yards away in the rear.

The blue house, seen in the photo, suffered some damage to its vinyl siding. Both residences were evacuated while firefighters contained the blaze. Residents across the street said they remained in their homes but were awakened by the smoke and flames.

Meranti said multiple calls were made reporting the fire. The arriving truck on the scene called in all off-duty firefighters to battle the blaze that could be seen roaring through the attic.

"It was well involved," he said. "It had a good jump on us. It went up the rear stairway and into the attic."

The fire is under investigation by North Adams Fire Department and the state fire marshal's office. Electrical has been ruled out as a cause because the building has been vacant for some time and there are no utilities.

The house is listed among 13 North Adams properties owned by William R. Romeo 2004 Revocable Trust on a deed dated 2006. It has been vacant for some time.

NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Firefighters battled a structure fire early Sunday morning that destroyed a vacant home on Chase Avenue.

The fire was reported at about 5 a.m. The flames could be seen bursting through the roof and a section of the house collapsed. The unoccupied structure was in a close-packed residential area on the north side of the city's downtown.

A firefighter incurred injuries, reportedly minor, at the scene and was taken to North Adams Regional Hospital.

No further information was immediately available.
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Williamstown Crash Sends 7 To Hospital

By Andy McKeever
iBerkshires Staff
Photo courtesy of the Williamstown Police Department.
The crash led to one woman being extricated with the Jaws of Life and a truck to rollover.
WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — A two-vehicle accident on Route 7 in front of the 1896 House on Wednesday sent seven people to the hospital.

According to police, a Ford Taurus driven by Ann Palmer, 51, of North Adams and a Toyota pickup truck driven by Peter Milesi, 30, also of North Adams collided shortly after 5 p.m.

Palmer's vehicle carried four juveniles and Milesi had his sister as a passenger. All seven involved were taken by ambulance to either Berkshire Medical Center  in Pittsfield or North Adams Regional Hospital.

Police said Palmer had to be extricated from the vehicle by the Fire Department with the Jaws of Life and the truck had rolled over. None of the injuries were major but there were minor injuries and some of the occupants were taken to the hospital as a precaution.

A total of six ambulances were on the scene. Both vehicles were totaled.

The northbound lane was closed by state police for about 30 minutes until the vehicles were towed.

Police said it was a "T-bone" accident but did not reveal further details of the crash because it is still under investigation.

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Superior Court Briefs: June 11 - June 14

Staff Reports
Cases heard before Judge Mary Lou Rup on Monday, June 11.

J.C. Chadwell, 33, of Pittsfield pleaded guilty to a single count of possession of a firearm, rifle or shotgun with a prior conviction for a violent crime or drug offense and a single count of possession of ammunition without a firearm identification card.

Chadwell will be sentenced on Wednesday, June 17. He is to report daily to probation, remain drug and alcohol free and undergo random testing prior to sentencing.

The charges stem from a incident in Pittsfield on August 22, 2009. An additional single count of illegal possession of a firearm was dismissed by the state.

Cases heard before Judge Mary Lou Rup on Tuesday, June 12.

Nathan Purvis, 29, of Pittsfield pleaded guilty to three counts of indecent assault and battery and single counts of assault with intent to commit rape and breaking and entering in the nighttime.

He was sentenced to serve concurrent two year sentences at the Berkshire County House of Correction on the breaking and entering charge and two counts of indecent assault and batter. He was placed on five years probation on the other charges on the condition he register as a sex offender, enter a sex offender treatment program and refrain from using drugs and alcohol.

Purvis broke into the home of a 25-year-old woman in Pittsfield and assaulted her on September 18, 2010. Three additional counts of assault and battery were dismissed by the state.

Cases heard before Judge Mary Lou Rup on Wednesday, June 13.

Michael Mitchell
,35, of Williamstown had not guilty pleas entered on his behalf on single counts of breaking and entering in the nighttime, larceny over $250 and larceny from a building.

He was released on personal recognizance. The charges stem from a break in on March 2 in North Adams.

Lance Latimer
, 32, of North Adams had not guilty pleas entered on his behalf on two counts of breaking and entering in the nighttime, two counts of receiving stolen property over $250 and a single count of larceny over $250.

He was released on personal recognizance. The charges stem from break ins in Williamstown on Feb. 12 and Feb. 24. He allegedly was in possession of stolen property in North Adams between Feb. 24 and March 9.

Richard Jones III, 27, of North Adams had not guilty pleas entered on his behalf on 15 counts of breaking and entering in the nighttime, 12 counts of larceny over $250, two counts of larceny from a building, two counts of trespassing, two counts of breaking and entering in the daytime and single counts of malicious destruction of personal property over $250, malicious destruction of personal property under $250, possession of burglarious tools and common and notorious thief.

He was released on personal recognizance. The charges stem from a series of break ins in Williamstown and North Adams between Feb. 12 and March 19.

Cases heard before Judge Mary Lou Rup on Thursday, June 14.

Denzel Moody
, 19, of Pittsfield had not guilty pleas entered on his behalf on three counts of distribution of cocaine and a single count of drug violation in a school zone.

He was released on $500 bail. The incidents allegedly occurred in Pittsfield between August 3, 2011 and August 29, 2011.

Corey Hanger, 32, of Pittsfield had not guilty pleas entered on his behalf on three counts of distribution of cocaine, three counts of drug violation in a school zone and possession of cocaine with intent to distribute.

He was released on $300 bail. The incidents allegedly occurred in Pittsfield between November 15, 2011 and May 9, 2012.
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