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Former Pittsfield Councilor Pleads Guilty to Drug Charges

Staff Reports

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — A former city councilor and local businessman, Paul J. Capitanio, was given two years' probation after pleading guilty to drug possession and tipping off his oxycodone supplier to police raids.

The 58-year-old Capitanio appeared before Judge C. Jeffrey Kinder in Berkshire Superior Court on Wednesday.

He pleaded guilty to single counts of accessory after the fact of distribution of oxycodone and conspiracy to violate drug laws (possession of oxycodone).

Capitanio warned his oxycodone supplier about drug task force raids being planned in spring 2013 during the investigation of the . He was charged in August of that year and, at the time, admitted he had an oxycodone addiction.

Kinder placed him on probation on the condition Capitanio refrain from using illegal drugs and undergo drug testing during the two-year probationary period.      

Capitanio was elected in 2009 and served two terms representing Ward 3. The investigation was conducted by members of the Berkshire County Law Enforcement Task Force.
 

     

Fire Destroys Pittsfield Storage Shed

Staff Reports
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — A storage shed was destroyed Sunday after a refuse fire was left unattended.
 
According to Deputy Fire Chief Steven Peaslee, a 25-foot by 12-foot storage shed is a total loss at 275 Highland Ave. The shed stored a lawn mower, bicycle, outboard motor, construction materials and other household items and will cost an estimated $50,000 to replace, according to fire officials.

A smaller storage shed at 275 Highland and a garage next door at 279 Highland Ave. were damaged somewhat from exposure to the intense heat from the fire.

The cause is undetermined and the investigation is ongoing, according to Peaslee, however, the "probable cause is an unattended, unauthorized, nearby refuse fire within 15 to 20 feet of the outbuilding."
 
The owners of the property said they were burning construction-type wood debris the night before. The shed caught fire around 1 in the afternoon when nobody was home. The call was placed by a neighbor, who saw smoke, and no injuries were reported.
 
"Firefighters quickly knocked down the fire under high-heat conditions from both the fire and warm weather," Peaslee said in a release.
 
Highland Avenue was closed briefly while the firefighters battled the blaze. Firefighters used "several hand lines" to extinguish the fire.
 
"The storage shed was fully involved on our arrival. Heavy, black smoke plume could be seen for miles atop the hill on Highland," the release reads.
     

Lanesborough Police Investigating Crash That Killed New Ashford Woman

By Andy McKeever
iBerkshires Staff

LANESBOROUGH, Mass. — Police are investigating a one-car accident that killed a 51-year-old New Ashford woman on Thursday night.

Sheryl A. Surprenant of State Road in New Ashford was driving northbound on Route 7 when her car crossed lanes and went off the road, crashing through the sign for the former Lamp Post Motel, on the southbound side, said police.

Officers responded at  9:22 p.m. to the report of a vehicle off the road near the motel on Route 7. The Chrysler had flipped and was lodged in trees and brush.

"The vehicle was on its roof and in the trees. She was pronounced dead on the scene," said Sgt. Gary Kirby on Wednesday. "It was a very difficult extrication by Lanesborough Fire and EMS."

A passerby, who works in the tree removal business, reported the accident and began clearing brush until emergency responders arrived. Speed was a factor based on evidence at the scene and a witness account, according to police, but the rest of the circumstances are still under investigation.

The accident caused some backed up traffic but the road remained open.

Kirby was not on the scene that night but Officers Brad Lepicier and Robert Moore, and Investigator Timothy Sorrell responded along with Lanesborough firefighters, emergency medical services, and County Ambulance. The Massachusetts State Police accident reconstruction team is assisting with the investigation.

Suprenant, a Pittsfield native, resided for many years in Southwick before returning to the area.

     

Pittsfield Police Locate Missing Man

Staff Reports
Update: Police say they've located Fields in Springfield.
 
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Police are searching for 62-year-old man, who was last seen in the middle of March.
 
Mark Fields of West Housatonic Street was reported missing on March 31, according to police. Fields does not drive and walks with a limp. He stands 5-feet 9-inches tall and weighs 160 pounds. He has brown eyes and gray hair.
 
Fields is known to visit area churches and food pantries. Anyone with information on his whereabouts is asked to contact police at 413-448-9700.
     

Man Cited For Running Red Light In Crash Into Pittsfield Storefront

By Andy McKeever
iBerkshires Staff
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Police have cited the driver of the van than ran into a second street building for running a red light.
 
A Ford van driven by John Eckert crashed into J.M.S. Industrial Supply Wednesday morning after narrowly missing a collision with a Berkshire Regional Transit Authority bus. 
 
"After viewing the video tapes on the BRTA bus, he was found at fault for a red light violation," said Officer Michael Silver.
 
The officer said the BRTA van was heading east at the intersection when Eckert ran the red light as he was heading northbound. The two never collided but Eckert's effort to avoid that led to the crash.
 
"He swerved to miss [the van] and drove himself into the building," Silver said.

Original Post on Wednesday, March 25 at 12:07 p.m.

Pittsfield Accident Sends Van Into Fenn Street Building

A van involved in a motor vehicle accident smashed through the front door of J.M.S Supply on Fenn Street on Wednesday morning.

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — A motor vehicle accident at the corner of Second and Fenn streets sent a van smashing into the front of a hardware store.
 
The white van went through angled corner door of J.M.S. Industrial Supply at 289 Fenn, skimming a street light. The streetlight was ultimately pulled down as the van was towed from the scene by Sayers Auto Wrecking. 
 
The collision occurred just before 11 a.m. Police are still investigating the accident but say the Ford van operated by John Eckert was northbound before careening into the storefront.
 
Police say an eastbound Berkshire Regional Transit Authority van operated by Rebecca Whitaker was also involved in the accident but it is unclear exactly how. That van did not appear to have been damaged. 
 
No one was reported hurt but firefighters had to evacuate seven residents living in the building that runs along Second Street and utilities were shut off. Three people inside J.M.S. were evacuated as well. 
 
"We assisted in the evacuation of three people in the business," said Deputy Fire Chief Michael Polidoro. "The owner and two other people had to be extricated through the basement.
 
"The main door was obviously destroyed."
 
Polidoro said traffic would have to be rerouted around the intersection, particularly on the Fenn Street side, because the building's structure was compromised. Workers from the Department of Public Works helped with traffic control. 
 
"The road is going to have to be shut down on this side because of the potential collapse," he said.
 
City inspectors and the property manager were at the scene. Eversource was being contacted about restoring some electrical service to a section of the building.
 
"At this time, all the pieces have to come together [before people can go back in]," Polidoro said.
 
The property is owned by Alexander and Nancy Kolben of New York City, according to city records, and is valued at $168,500. The building has five residential units in addition to the storefront.
     
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