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Pedestrian Struck on Pittsfield's West Housatonic Street

By Andy McKeever
iBerkshires Staff
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — A pedestrian was struck by a car in front of Clapp Park on Thursday afternoon.
 
Police say an elderly man was walking on the sidewalk around 12:30 p.m. when a westbound vehicle went off the road, crashed into a sign, knocked down a utility pole, and hit him. The pedestrian was taken to Berkshire Medical Center with "serious injuries" and the driver was transported there with non-life threatening injuries.
 
"The operator was a gentleman who was transferred to BMC with what I would say non-life threatening injuries. Unfortunately, the elderly gentleman had serious injuries. I don't know if they were life-threatening but it was serious," said Police Lt. Michael Maddalena.
 
The reason why the driver veered off the road is currently unknown and police had not released the names of those involved when this was published.
 
The crash caused the closure of West Housatonic Street from Center to South Merriam for more than 90 minutes.The utility pole had fallen into the roadway and had to be removed. 
     

Pittsfield Firefighters Pull Man From Burning Building

By Andy McKeever
iBerkshires Staff

The cause of the fire remains under investigation.
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Firefighters pulled one man from flames after the apartments above Tahiti Takeout caught fire early Thursday morning.
 
The department responded to the blaze shortly before 4:30 a.m. and upon arrival there were heavy flames shooting out of the back of the building. Firefighters were told there was one person unaccounted for and launched an interior search, finding one man in the flames.
 
"Upon arrival they found heavy fire in the back of the building. Our crews found out some of the occupants were outside of the building  and one occupant was unaccounted for. Our crew went in and made a rescue," Fire Chief Robert Czerwinski said. 
 
Lt. Michael D'Avella and probationary firefighter Jarrett Robitaille pulled the man from the building. He was then transferred to Berkshire Medical Center and later transported to Worcester for further treatment for burns. The other six occupants in the apartments were unharmed.
 
The department then fought the fire that gutted the second floor.
 
"It took us a little bit to get it down but it was knocked down through aggressive interior firefighting. We did have to open the roof. We did have to call mutual aid today from the towns of Dalton and Lenox," Czerwinski said. 
 
The cause of the fire is still unknown but the chief says it started on the upper floors, and not from the restaurant. The restaurant did sustain water damage.
 
"We believe it started on the second floor. There is little damage to the first floor and the kitchen area. We have no reason to believe it was a kitchen fire that extended upward,"  he said.
 
The state fire marshal is on scene with Pittsfield Fire and Police investigating the blaze. The fire was reported early in the morning and Wahconah Street was closed in the section surrounding the restaurant. That section is expected to remain closed throughout the day while investigators are on scene. 
 
"Our guys did a great job this morning. There was a rescue right off the bat and that is always a challenge for any crew at 4:30 in the morning," Czerwinski said. 
     

Pittsfield Teen Accosted On Elm Street

Staff Reports
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Police are looking for a man who accosted a 17-year-old girl on Elm Street on Monday afternoon.
 
Police say the teenager was approached by the suspect shortly after 2 p.m. in the area on Elm between Ontario Street and Elmhurst Avenue. The girl was not injured.
 
Police are looking for a man described at being white with brown hair, in his late 20s, having a medium build, standing between 5-foot-6 and 5-foot-8 and being either slightly bald or having or crew cut. He was wearing a blue hooded sweat shirt and tan colored pants. He was last seen running onto Putnam Avenue.
 
Anyone who witnessed it or has information is asked to contact the detective bureau at 413-448-9705 or tips can be made anonymously through the drug tips hotline at 413-448-9708 or texting PITTIP and the message to 847411.
     

Pittsfield Man Pleads Guilty to MassHealth Fraud

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — A Pittsfield man has pleaded guilty and been sentenced in connection with making duplicative claims for personal care services, resulting in an overpayment of approximately $82,000 in funds from the state's Medicaid Program (MassHealth), $46,500 of which was paid directly to him, Attorney General Maura Healey announced on Monday.

Frederick Phillips, 56, pleaded guilty in Berkshire Superior Court to charges of Medicaid fraud and larceny more than $250 by false pretenses.

"This defendant defrauded a system that provides vital health-care services to people with chronic or long-term disabilities," Healey said in a statement. "He took advantage of his role as caretaker for his brother to steal taxpayer dollars and divert critical resources from people in need."

After the plea was entered, Superior Court Judge John Agostini sentenced Phillips to two years in the Berkshire County House of Corrections, suspended for a probationary period of three years. During the that period, Phillips must refrain from illegal drug use, enter substance abuse counseling, and is prohibited from being a MassHealth provider.

The attorney general's investigation revealed that between March 2011 and November 2013, Phillips submitted fraudulent information to MassHealth's Adult Foster Care Program. Phillips, the AFC caretaker for his brother, billed MassHealth for AFC services knowing that his brother was receiving duplicative Personal Care Attendant (PCA) Program services at the same time.

MassHealth funds both programs, allowing members with chronic or long-term disabilities to live independently and remain in their communities. In both programs, caretakers assist with daily living activities such as taking medications, dressing, going to the bathroom and bathing. Under AFC regulation, MassHealth will not pay for AFC services if a member is receiving PCA services at the same time.

A Berkshire County Grand Jury returned indictments against Phillips in February 2016.

This case was handled by Assistant Attorney General Evelyn Y. Tang of AG Healey's Medicaid Fraud Division and investigated by Investigators April Waterhouse and Michael Russo, also of the Medicaid Fraud Division. The Boston office of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General assisted with the investigation.

     

Teen in Critical Condition Following Pittsfield Shooting

Staff Reports
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — A 17-year-old is in critical condition following a Friday night shooting.
 
Police did not identify the male victim but said officers responded to shots being fired in the area of 391 North St. - the address of Methuselah Bar and Lounge - Friday night at 11:28 p.m. Upon arrival, police found the victim with a single gunshot wound to the torso.
 
The 17-year-old is believed to in be stable but critical condition, police said Monday.
 
The shooting is being investigated by the detective bureau, along with assistance form crime scene services and the drug unit. Anyone with information is asked to contact the department at 413-448-9700 or through the drug tips hotline - 413-448-9708 - or texting 847411.
     
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