Body of Missing Pittsfield Man Recovered
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Pittsfield Police say they recovered the body of an elderly man who they believe is 61-year-old Francis Rocca, an Alzheimer’s patient who left his Francis Avenue home on July 13.
Police said the body was discovered early Thursday afternoon with the help of a specially trained corpse-sniffing dog in a heavily wooded area off Turner Avenue near the west branch of the Housatonic River.
Police were waiting for an official ID on the body but based on clothing and jewelry found on the body, investigators believe the dead man is Rocca. An autopsy is scheduled for Friday at the state medical examiner's office in Holyoke. Police say the death does not appear suspicious and indicated Rocca had been dead for some time.
Rocca, a carpenter and a veteran, has been suffering from Alzheimer's for two years. He reportedly spit out his medication on the night he left his home. Police were also hoping to come upon Robert DeFreest with the help of the dog. DeFreest, a homeless man, hasn't been seen since June 2009.
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Adams Crash Sends One to Hospital
ADAMS, Mass. — A two-vehicle accident on Columbia Street stalled traffic and caused minor injuries Wednesday afternoon.
Bill Spinney of Berkshire County Stoves said the crash "sounded like it was in my parking lot." The crash occurred just south of his store in front of Chick's Lunch and Gem Electric. He called 911 and, after noting the passengers and drivers had all exited the vehicles on their own, snapped a picture that showed one of the sport-utility vehicles flipped on its roof.
Police, fire and ambulance responded to the scene and police report one person, who had been in the flipped vehicle, was transported to the hospital.
Update: The flipped vehicle was being driven by Evan Sadlowski, 25, of East Road. He was cityed for speeding, driving to endanger and a seat-belt violation.
Police say Sadlowski was speeding southbound on Columbia Street when he lost control, struck the parked sport utility vehicle, flipped and slid into the parked red pickup truck. His 2005 Subaru was totaled and the SUV received heavy damage to its driver's side. The truck had $1,000 in damages. Sadlowski was the only injured and he was taken to Berkshire Medical Center with minor injuries.
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Becket Motorcycle Accident Kills One
BECKET, Mass. — A 59-year-old Swiss woman was killed in a motorcycle accident Monday afternoon in Becket.
Lorenza Bernasconi-Galli was operating a 2007 Honda BTM, three-wheeled motorcycle west on the Massachusetts Turnpike when she drifted into the breakdown lane and struck the guard rail, according to state police from the Westfield barracks.
The trike and rider continued west for 188 feet before the rider was ejected. Bernasconi-Galli was fatally injured in the crash and pronounced dead at the scene.
The accident occurred at about 3:27 p.m. at mile marker 16.8 in Becket. Two other bikers were traveling with the victim but were unhurt.
The far right travel lane and breakdown lane were closed for approximately three hours during the investigation. No traffic delays were reported.
The facts and circumstances of the crash remain under investigation by Troop E with the assistance of troopers assigned to the Crash Analysis and Reconstruction Section and the Crime Scene Services Section. Troopers were assisted at the scene by the Department of Transportation Highway Division.
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Ex-Pine Cobble Head Faces Child-Porn Charges
|David B. Harris|
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — A city man and former headmaster of Pine Cobble School in Williamstown was arraigned Monday morning in Northern Berkshire District Court on child pornography charges.
David B. Harris, 66, of Marion Avenue, pleaded not guilty to possession of child pornography and dissemination of child pornography. Bail was set at $2,500 and Harris was released. The case was continued to Aug. 25 for a bindover hearing. More charges are expected to be filed.
Harris left Pine Cobble in 2000 and was hired as head of school for the Cambridge Montessori School, a private school for children from preschool to ninth grade
According to the district attorney's office, the charges resulted from a two-month investigation that culminated in the execution of a search warrant on Sunday at his home.
The North Adams Transcript reported Monday that state police said they found a laptop with links to pornographic sites featuring young boys, and 10 USB drives, at least one of which contained more than 40 videos that appear to be pornographic.
In a letter posted on the Cambridge school's website, Webster O'Brien, president of the board of trustees, said Harris has been immediately suspended without pay and that the school will commence a search for an interim head of school for the coming year. (The letter can be found here, too.)
|While we can honestly state that we have had no reason to suspect this behavior, and we respect individuals' privacy, these charges leave us no option but to immediately suspend David without pay until the Board of Trustees has enough information to make a final decision.|
O'Brien said trustees are "fully confident that these issues reside in David's home in North Adams" and have not affected the Cambridge school.
Harris spent his weekends in North Adams and weekdays living in Cambridge.
He has more than 40 years of experience in education and is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania. He was headmaster of Pine Cobble from 1989 to 2000; Nicholas M. Edgerton, who replaced him, left earlier this spring. Harris has been headmaster at two other private schools, Upland Country Day School in Kennett Square, Pa., and Eagle Hill School in Lloyd Harbor, N.Y., according to his biography listed on the Cambridge school site. He has sat on numerous educational boards and is a trustee of the Kildonan School in Amenia, N.Y.
Harris founded a consulting firm in 2004 to aid in the placement of gifted or underachieving students to schools that fit their needs but the site, www.schoolsolve.net, does not appear to have fully launched and the domain is for sale. A bio for the site lists Harris at that time as a corporator for Northern Berkshire Health Systems and a member of the North Adams Regional Hospital Ethics Committee; he is no longer listed as a corporator at NBH.
(Update, July 21: Northern Berkshire Healthcare tells us that Harris was a lay member of the Ethics Committee from 1997 to 2002. He is not a corporator and has no current links to the hospital.)
The investigation was conducted by state police detectives assigned to the Berkshire district attorney's office, with assistance from the Massachusetts and New York Internet Crimes Against Children Task Forces, state police detectives assigned to the Middlesex district attorney's office and investigators assigned to the New York State attorney general's office.
From the Editor: Because of the sensitive nature of these allegations, we'll be scrutinizing any comments posted here. Any attempts at incitement to violence, smutty remarks and distasteful comments will be removed immediately. Keep it clean, people.
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Woman Pleads Guilty in Fatal Accident
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — An East Longmeadow woman was sentenced on Monday afternoon in Berkshire Superior Court to prison for her role in a drunken-driving accident two years ago that killed a Becket man.
Catherine A. Rivet, 30, of Parker Street, pleaded guilty to single countes of motor vehicle homicide while under the influence of alcohol and operating to endanger, failure to stay in marked lanes, speeding and possession of marijuana.
Thomas A. Sacchetti Jr., 42, of Prince John Drive, was a passenger in Rivet's 1997 Ford Contour in the early morning hours of Oct. 11, 2008. She was driving at a high rate of speed along Route 20 near the Chester line when she lost control and flipped her car. Sacchetti was pronounced dead at the scene.
Judge John A. Agostini ordered Rivet to serve three to five years in the Massachusetts Correctional Institute at Framingham on the motor vehicle homicide charge, to be served concurrently with six months in House of Correction on the possession charge. She was found responsble for the two traffic charges.
The investigation was conducted by members of the Becket Police Department and accident reconstruction specialists assigned to the Massachusetts State Police.
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