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Angry Taco Bell Was Closed, Pittsfield Man Crashes Vehicle

Staff Reports
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Angry that Taco Bell was closed, a city man allegedly crashed his car into a former ATM building as he sped off.
Police say Derrick LaForest pulled up to Taco Bell in Berkshire Crossing at about 1:30 a.m. Thursday and began beeping his car horn. An employee them informed LaForest that the restaurant was closed and that's when he allegedly sped through the drive-through lane, hit a curb, jumped another curb, and then crashed into the small building which used to house a TD Bank automated teller machine.
"LaForest stated that he had gone to Taco Bell and when he found it was closed, he drove away and somehow hit the building. LaForest stated he had 'no idea' how he hit the building," reads the police report. 
"LaForest stated that he had come from Johnny's Beach Club on Wahconah Street, but showed no signs of impairment."
According to police, employees pulled an unconscious LaForest from the vehicle and waited for officers to arrive. Employees told police that he was driving "at least 80 miles per hour." 
"The building suffered extensive damage, as did LaForest's vehicle," the police report reads.
LaForest had a cut above his eye and the airbag had deployed but he refused medical treatment. He was arrested and charged with vandalism and reckless operation of a motor vehicle. 
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Pittsfield Police Investigating Reports Of Man Trying To Lure Students

Staff Reports
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Police are investigating reports that a man attempted to lure a middle school student into a van Wednesday morning.
Police said that at just before 7 a.m. a middle school student went to a convenience store and the clerk called police for her to report the issue. Police issued a "be on the look out" for the blue van reported.
Investigators have spoken to the registered owner of the van so officers are no longer looking for the vehicle.
However, a second student reported a related incident at the school later and the case remains an active investigation. Anyone with information is asked to contact the detective bureau.
The School Department issued a call to parents warning them of the situation on Wednesday.
"This is Superintendent Jason McCandless calling to let you know that a middle school student was approached and urged to get into the vehicle by a man driving a blue van this morning, while the student was walking to school. This happened earlier this morning in the vicinity of Linden Street.The Pittsfield Police are involved. We are calling simply to make you aware as your children get ready to leave for school today, and prepare for dismissal today," the message said.
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Former Pittsfield Police Officer Pleads Not Guilty To Embezzlement Charges

Staff Reports
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — A former police officer pleaded not guilty to charges of embezzlement, money laundering, and forgery.
Jeffrey Coco is accused of taking more than $200,000 from the Pittsfield Police Officers Union. He had previously been fired from the department after an internal investigation penned that figure at more than $150,000. 
Coco was in Central Berkshire District Court on Wednesday entering not guilty pleas. Judge William Rota released him on personal recognizance. Coco is due back in court on May 10.
In November, he was found guilty of conduct unbecoming of an officer and criminal conduct by an internal affairs investigation. Coco is accused of stealing from the bank accounts by writing checks to himself and his wife. 
The internal affairs report is available below.

Pittsfield Police Internal Affairs Report by iBerkshires.com

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Pittsfield Fire Damages Montgomery Avenue Duplex

By Andy McKeever
iBerkshires Staff

Next door neighbor Tony Paredes snapped this photo of the flames bursting through the windows. 

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Several pets were killed when a fire erupted on the first floor of a duplex on Montgomery Avenue shortly after noontime on Tuesday.

The cause of the fire is still being investigated but appears to be limited mostly to 7 Montgomery Ave. The 9 Montgomery Ave. side suffered "significant smoke damage." 

Deputy Fire Chief Matthew Noyes said the department responded to the report of a structure fire and firefighters arriving on scene could see smoke coming out the building.

A least three windows were blown out by the blaze. Next door neighbor Tony Paredes said the fire expanded quickly. He said he heard a scream and in moments flames burst through the smoke-filled structure's windows.

The fire was contained fairly swiftly with the flames extinguished well before 1 p.m. but there were worries it might have spread through the structure.

"We were a little concerned when we saw smoke coming out of a vent from the basement area," Noyes said.

"Shortly after we had a line to the main body, we sent a crew to the basement. ... That's always a challenge if you have a possible basement fire ... but it turned out to be a little fire."

Everyone was out of the building by the time firefighters arrived. There were a number of pets, however, that apparently succumbed to the fire, including cats, although a snake was saved.

The building and health inspectors are currently evaluating the structure.

"The left side of the duplex has got heavy fire damage in the front room and in the basement," Noyes said. "There is heavy smoke damage throughout the building and some water damage.

"The right side has significant smoke damage, not any water damage, no fire damage that I can see."

According to land records, the home is owned by Melissa Gallagher and Sara Hollander. 


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Pittsfield Police Investigating Attempted Robbery On Francis Ave

Staff Reports
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Police are seeking information on an attempted robbery of a Francis Avenue store.
Police say on Thursday at 4:38 p.m. dispatched received a call reporting the attempted unarmed robbery from Thing or 2 Variety at 228 Francis Avenue. The clerk said a white male in his mid to late 20s, standing about 5-feet 9-inches tall, with brown hair, scruffy face, and wearing a green hooded sweatshirt attempted to grab cash from the open register. The clerk was completing a sale and the man allegedly pushed the clerk in an attempt to take money.
No cash was taken and the clerk was not injured. Police are now investigating the crime and are asking for anyone with information to contact the detective bureau at 448-9705.
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