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Local Animal Advocate Offers Reward in Adams Cat Case

Staff Reports
iBerkshires

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Allen Harris, president of Berkshire Money Management, is offering a $5,000 reward for information that leads to the arrest and conviction of the individual or individuals responsible for the recent cruel and sadistic treatment of a cat in the vicinity of Howland Avenue in Adams.

The young cat, named Cleo, was found left to die in a makeshift setup to hang the animal. Luckily, a passerby heard the choking cat, called 911, and saved its life.

"This is a heinous crime. I recognize that without some additional incentive the perpetrator or perpetrators may not be brought to justice," said Harris in a statement. "I implore anyone who knows something, anything, that may be helpful to law enforcement to do the right thing and report it."

Those with any information about the crime should call Adams Police at 413-743-1212.

Harris said he was shocked and appalled reading the details of the despicable acts. Such cruel behavior should not be tolerated, whether the victim is a cat, dog or any other living creature.

Harris and his wife, Stacey Carver, have been longtime supporters of vulnerable animals in the community. They have dedicated time and resources to several causes including Berkshire Animal DREAMS, New England Basset Hound Rescue, Eleanor Sonsini Animal Shelter and others. Carver is a board member for Animal DREAMS and New England Basset Hound Rescue Inc. and Harris is a member of the city of Pittsfield Animal Control Board.

Cleo has recovered from her trauma but is still uneasy around humans. She is seeking a kind and loving home. Find out more about her here.  A benefit to offset the costs of Cleo's care is being held by Northern Berkshire Cat Rescue on Feb. 24.

     

Adams-Cheshire Administrator Faces Drug Charge

Staff Reports
iBerkshires

CHESHIRE, Mass. — A police investigation led to the arrest on Thursday morning of an employee of the Adams-Cheshire Regional School District.

Supervisor of Special Services Kurt M. Garivaltis, 45, is being charged with possession of a Class B substance, Percocet. He is to be arraigned on Wednesday, Jan. 30, in Northern Berkshire District Court.

Superintendent Kristen Gordon confirmed on Friday that an employee was arrested after an ongoing investigation led authorities to do a car search in the school's parking lot and a search of the employee's office at about 7:45 a.m. on Thursday.

"At about 9 a.m., the authorities informed me they were going to make an arrest at that time and we put the school in a soft lockdown," said Gordon, who estimated the lockdown lasted about 11 minutes and was done to shield the children from seeing someone they knew in handcuffs.

She said at no time was anyone in any danger and the investigation had nothing to do with firearms or anything related to that.

"The authorities were extremely respectful of the fact this was an elementary school," she said, adding that the individual "is not working at the moment."

The arrest was made by the Berkshire State Police Detective Unit after executing a search warrant. According to a report filed in court by Trooper Daren W. Snyder, detectives discovered Percocet during the search "for which [Garivaltis] did not have a prescription."

     

Adams Woman Convicted of Credit Union Embezzlement

Staff Reports
iBerkshires

BOSTON — An Adams woman and former credit union employee was convicted on Jan. 17 of embezzling nearly $160,000 and making false entries into the books of the credit union.

Patricia Piscioneri, 67, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Michael A. Ponsor to a 30-count indictment charging her with embezzlement of funds by a credit union employee and false entries.

She faces up to 30 years in prison to be followed by five years of supervised release and a $1 million fine.

While employed as the manager of the former Adams Municipal Employees Federal Credit Union (AMEFCU) between 2001 and 2005, Piscioneri embezzled credit union funds by creating fraudulent loan accounts in the names of credit union members and depositing the proceeds of these fraudulent loans into her own account(s), her husband's account(s), or other family members' account(s), or used the proceeds to pay off previously obtained fraudulent loans.

In an attempt to avoid detection, Piscioneri created fraudulent loan documentation, such as loan applications and promissory notes, and forged signatures on the fraudulent loan documentation. Additionally, Piscioneri created false entries in the AMEFCU accounting system and advanced the payment due dates of the fraudulent loans.

Sentencing is scheduled for April 25, 2013.

U.S. Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz and Richard DesLauriers, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation Boston Field Division, made the announcement. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Michelle L. Dineen Jerrett of Ortiz's Health Care Fraud Unit.

     

Early Morning Fire Destroys Adams Home

By Andy McKeever
iBerkshires Staff

No one was home when the fire broke out.

ADAMS, Mass. — Firefighters knocked down an early morning structure fire Friday that destroyed a home; no one was injured.

The cause of the fire is still under investigation.

Fire Chief Paul Goyette said later Friday afternoon that the cause was believed to be a faulty light switch.

"The point of origin was at the top of the stairs in the center of the building," said Goyette. "It was a malfunction of a light circut due to, mostly likely, the grounding of the circuit."

The electrical fire had been smoldering for some time before the department was alerted to the by-then fully involved structure fire at 18 Brown St. at 5:30 a.m.

The single-family home is owned by Robert Wadsworth, who was at work at the time.

The house to the east on the residential street had some buckling of its siding because of the heat but other than that no other structures were damaged. "Really, we were fortunate there was not a large wind," said Goyette. "We did get a break in the weather.

The Brown Street house in a total loss and will have to be torn down, he said. The owner has a place to stay for now.

According to Fire Chief Paul Goyette, the department received a call of a well-involved structure fire on Brown Street at about 5:30 a.m.

The homeowner was not home at the time, Goyette said, and no firefighters were injured during the following two hours of fighting the blaze in the frigid temperatures.

Goyette said the department found heavy smoke upon arriving on the scene and prepared to mount an interior attack but just before entering the front door, the roof ignited and firefighters switched to the defensive.

"We were at the front door ready to go but the roof self-ventilated and I'm not going to risk anybody's life for a house," Goyette said, and later added that "it had a good start on us. It was smoldering in the attic until it had enough oxygen to break out."

Police had already identified and contacted the owner, who appears to be the sole occupant and was at work. North Adams Fire Department assisted in laying a hose across Howland Avenue and police closed the main throughway for a brief period of time.

"We have limited water supply down here," Goyette said.

Goyette said there was a hydrant, which worked fine, and the cold weather had "no effect whatsoever" on the department's ability to effectively fight it.

By 8 a.m., firefighters were packing up supplies but some will remain on scene to look for hot spots. The cause of the blaze is still under investigation.

Adams and North Adams ambulance services provided rehab service on the scene and the Cheshire Fire Department covered Adams' station.

Updated 4:50 p.m. with cause an further information from fire chief.

     

West Springfield Man Arrested in Adams Incident

By Stephen Dravis
Williamstown Correspondent
Update Tuesday, Nov. 13, 2012:  The North Adams Transcript is reporting that James V. Bourdon was released on personal recognizance Tuesday after appearing in Northern Berkshire District Court. Bourdon reportedly had taped a note to his car saying it was rigged to explode. A carbon dioxide tank and jumper cables were also discovered in the car. A pretrial hearing was scheduled for Dec. 12.

Above, police remove a rifle from James V. Bourdon's car on Park Street. Left, Fire Chief Paul Goyette, left, and Police Chief Donald Poirot explained the situation to reporters Sunday afternoon.
ADAMS, Mass. — A West Springfield man is being held by Adams Police in connection with an incident that forced the closure of Park Street (Route 8) on Sunday morning.

James V. Bourdon, 59, of Highland Avenue in West Springfield has been charged with lewdness, open and gross indecent exposure and possession of an unsecured loaded weapon in his vehicle, which was parked in front of the Daily Grind.

Park Street was closed from 7:50 until 11:38 a.m. after officers responding to a report of a person acting suspiciously in a parked car "observed some things that aroused their suspicion," Adams Police Chief Donald Poirot said in a 1 p.m. news conference.

Eventually the State Police bomb squad was called to the scene and area residents were evacuated. But — without revealing what was found in the car — Poirot indicated that the situation was not as potentially disastrous as many may have feared.

"There were several things in the vehicle, but there was not anything that — at this time — indicates that it could have caused any major catastrophe to the community," Poroit said.

Both Poirot and Adams Fire Chief Paul Goyette said the road closure and evacuation were necessary precautions and steps they would take again in the same circumstances.

Police were first called at 6:58 Sunday morning with a report of a "suspicious person in a motor vehicle," Poirot said. Officers Thomas Cook and Joshua Baker responded to the report and arrested Bourdon.


Park Street was evacuated Sunday because of the threat.
Based on what they saw in the car, the police officers contacted the Adams Fire Department, and Goyette was called to the scene, Poirot said. Goyette called the state fire marshal's office.

The State Police bomb squad was brought in by helicopter. After the area was cleared just before noon, the bomb squad was recalled to the eastern end of the commonwealth, where it was scheduled to supply routine support during Sunday's home game for the New England Patriots, Goyette said.

Bourdon was in the Adams lockup on Sunday afternoon. He had not been arraigned, no bail was set and he did not have legal representation at the time of Sunday afternoon's news conference, Poirot said.

Poirot said Bourdon did not have a criminal record before Sunday. It is believed he was in Adams to visit family in the area.

The state fire marshal's office is conducting an investigation. Poirot said he and Goyette were not at liberty to discuss what was found in Bourdon's vehicle, other than to say there was a licensed but loaded and unsecured firearm that led to one of the charges against Bourdon.

"It was a case of erring on the side of caution for the community," Goyette said. "When the situation presented itself, there was enough of a thought in my mind for public safety, and we're always going to err on the side of public safety in this community.

"The people on Park Street were asked to evacuate, as Chief Poirot said, several businesses were closed down, and a [First Congregational] church service was canceled."

The Adams Visitors Center was opened for evacuees.


An armored officer examines the suspect vehicle.
Poirot and Goyette emphasized repeatedly in their 15-minute news conference that the steps they took in closing down and evacuating the heart of town were precautionary. Poroit praised the residents and business owners for their cooperation in clearing the scene while the vehicle was examined.

Poirot also dispelled a rumor that Bourdon had made statements to authorities indicating he had a bomb.

"When State Fire Marshal Mike Mazza arrived on the scene, and Chief Goyette and I debriefed him on the situation and what we were dealing with, he made the statement, 'Textbook,' " Poirot said. "That made me feel real proud of everything that was taking place and how it was handled and making sure nobody was injured."

This article is an update from a brief posted earlier Sunday that relayed unconfirmed reports of a bomb threat. The headline has been adjusted to indicate there was no threat made of using an explosive device.

     
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