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Police Nab Suspect in Multiple Robberies
Pittsfield Police Department On: 01:15PM / Wednesday November 23, 2011
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PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Police have charged a city man in connection with an armed robbery Tuesday night at a local Domino's Pizza and are investigating his connection to four other incidents.

Raheem Garett, 26, is charged with armed robbery (a firearm) and being masked during the robbery. His alleged accomplice, Laura Methe, 21, of Washington, the driver of the sport utility vehicle in which policy say he fled, is facing the same charges, in addition to motor vehicle charges including failure to stop for a police officer.

On Tuesday, Nov. 22, at approximately 10:50 p.m., the Police Department responded to a report of an armed robbery at the Domino's Pizza 321 1/2 Elm St.

Witnesses described the robber as a black man with a black hooded sweat shirt, wearing a mask and brandishing a gun. The suspect left in a white SUV. Officers responding to the area located the vehicle traveling on Dorchester Avenue. The operator refused to stop when signaled, and continued at a high rate of speed through the neighborhood streets, finally stopping when blocked in on Parkside Avenue.

During the chase, the passenger was observed throwing a gun out of the window. A BB gun and a mask were recovered along the route the vehicle traveled.

During the investigation, evidence linked the two individuals to the robberies at Domino's on Sept. 1 and Convenience Plus on Oct. 3, as well as attempted robberies at Dunkin' Donuts on Nov. 1 and Lipton Mart on Nov. 21.

Anyone who was in the Elm Street area between 10:30 and 11 p.m. on Tuesday night and may have observations relevant to the investigation is urged to call the Pittsfield Police Department at 413-448-9700. 


     
Pittsfield Police Seeking Info On Attempted Armed Robbery
Staff Reports On: 03:35PM / Monday November 21, 2011
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PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Police are seeking information about yet another attempted armed robbery of a convenience store.

Police say a masked person attempted to enter the Lipton Mart Mobil Station on Elm Street at about 5 a.m. Monday morning. Video surveillance shows a person approach the store from the area of Yarmosky Pediatric Dentistry and attempt to pull open the doors of the business. The suspect was wearing a gray ski mask, a gray pullover shirt and dark pants. The video shows the suspect holding a bag and brandishing some type of weapon.

The attempt was just after a store clerk arrived to open the store and had locked the front doors. Officers tracked the suspect to the Holmes road area with a K9 unit but was unable to locate the suspect.

Police are asking anyone who was in the Elm Street area between 4:45 and 5:15 and may have made an observation that could be relevant to contact the Detective Bureau at 413-448-9700.


     
EV Worldwide Exec Sentenced to Federal Prison
Staff Reports On: 01:03PM / Friday November 18, 2011
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PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Former EV Worldwide executive Michael J. Armitage was sentenced to 5 1/2 years in federal prison on Wednesday for fraud and tax evasion.

Armitage, 56, was at the center of the EV scheme that received more than $1 million in federal and local grants to develop first an electric bus and then a nickel-hydrogen battery in Pittsfield several years ago. The promises of a 1,000 jobs or more evaporated as state and federal investigators exposed the company's questionable finances.

U.S. District Judge Michael A. Ponsor sentenced Armitage, appearing in federal court in Springfield, to 66 months in federal prison to be followed by five years of supervised release.  

According to a press release from the U.S. Justice Department, he was ordered to forfeit $24,010, and pay restitution of $1.5 million to the IRS; $191,819 to the Massachusetts Department of Revenue; $4.2 million to the Federal Transit Administration; and $215,138 to the Pioneer Valley Transit Authority. 

He pleaded guilty in October 2010 to three counts of false statements to a federally insured financial institution; three counts of tax evasion; one count of false statements to a federal official; one count of conspiracy, one count of false claims; and one count of endeavoring to obstruct a federal audit. 

In the EV WorldWide case, Armitage and co-defendants were convicted of defrauding the Federal Transit Administration and Pioneer Valley Transit Authority. The charge are also connected to Armitage's failure to file a personal income tax for 13 years despite raking in millions through Power Development Co., an energy company he founded, and defrauding United Bank of West Springfield.

EV executive Christopher Willson was convicted in June and faces sentencing on Nov. 29.


     
Pittsfield Firefighter Sues City Over Promotion
Staff Reports On: 03:38PM / Wednesday November 09, 2011
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PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The U.S. Justice Department has filed a complaint against the city claiming officials had violated federal laws when firefighter Jeffrey Rawson was denied a promotion because he missed work while serving in the Navy Reserve.

Rawson, backed by the Justice Department, is suing for retroactive back pay, benefits, seniority and the promotion that he would have received if he had gotten a lieutenant job in September 2010. The lawsuit states Fire Chief Robert Czerwinski cited absenteeism as the reason for denying the promotion and giving the promotion to the firefighter who scored just below Rawson on a November 2009 promotion test.

"No servicemember should be prevented from advancing in his or her civil career because of military duties," Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division Thomas E. Perez said in a press release on Wednesday. "The Civil Rights Division is committed to protecting the rights of those who, through their bravery and sacrifice, secure the rights of all Americans."

According to media reports, Rawson was called to active military duty from October 2007 until November 2008, from February to June 2009 and from July to September of 2009 and the promoted firefighter had an "exemplary work record with minimal use of sick leave." Rawson claims the city violated federal law that prohibits employers from discriminating against military reservists.

Additionally, Rawson claims the city refused to reinstate him on the promotion list after he complained to the U.S. Labor Department’s Veterans Employment and Training Service.

     
Former Pittsfield-based Pharmacist Sentenced For Stealing Pills
Staff Reports On: 02:30PM / Wednesday October 26, 2011
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PITTSFIELD, Mass. — A former pharmacist was sentenced in federal court on Tuesday to three years in prison for stealing OxyContin from Price Chopper and filling prescriptions with other drugs, the Boston Globe is reporting.

Nichole Bombardier, 31, of Cheshire pleaded guilty to tampering with consumer products charges in federal court in March 2010. Prosecutors claim Bombardier stole at least 239 OxyContin from three different bottles from the Pittsfield Price Chopper pharmacy between May and September of 2008. At least one customer was hospitalized after taking medication used to treat high blood pressure instead of the painkiller.

Bombardier was also sentenced earlier in the week to repay $15,500 in fines and restitution to her former employer and patient.


     
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