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Lee Police Officer Resigns Amid Evidence Theft Investigation

Staff Reports
LEE, Mass. — A police officer has resigned while being investigated for allegedly stealing evidence.
The district attorney's office says Ryan Lucy, one of two evidence officers for the Lee Police Department, resigned and entered substance abuse rehabilitation treatment on Aug. 29. He is cooperating with investigators, the district attorney's office says, with an investigation regarding theft of evidence.
The Police Department became suspicious in late July when cash from an investigation went missing. State Police detectives were called to audit the department's evidence. 
A total of $1,408 in cash was found to be missing from the evidence locker from two investigations and one prior disposed criminal case. The money has been returned since the first phase of the investigation.
Detectives also discovered that drugs received through the department's drop box for unused medications were stolen.
The audit is not complete but the district attorney's office says it does not appear that any other evidence related to pending or recently completed cases has been compromised.
The office says no further information will be forthcoming until the investigation is completed.
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Man Dies Following Assault at Pittsfield YMCA Apartments

Staff Reports

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — A 44-year-old man died Sunday after being assaulted in the apartments operated by the Pittsfield Family YMCA.

Joseph Wirtes, 44, was allegedly assaulted by Brian Signor at the apartments Sunday morning. Wirtes was transported to Berkshire Medical Center following the assault and was pronounced dead later that day.

Signor, 27, also of the YMCA's 292 North St. residence, was arraigned on Monday on a single count of aggravated assault and battery, according to the district attorney's office. He pleaded not guilty and is being held at the Berkshire County House of Correction on $50,000 cash or surety bail.

Further charges may be forthcoming, according to the DA, pending the results of an autopsy being conducted on Monday by the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in Holyoke.

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FBI: MS-13 Member Arrested In Pittsfield

Staff Reports
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — An alleged member of a violent international street gang was arrested Thursday morning in Pittsfield by the FBI.
Efrain Vasquez-Yanez has been charged with conspiracy under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) and conspiracy to distribute cocaine. The State Police Violent Fugitive Apprehension Section, the U.S. Marshals Fugitive Task Force, and Pittsfield Police took Vasquez-Yanez into custody without incident Thursday. 
He was indicted in U.S. District Court in Boston along with 55 others of the La Mara Salvatrucha — or MS-13 — gang in January. Last week, the Federal Bureau of Investigation announced a $20,000 reward for information leading to his arrest. But no money will be paid out in this case, according to FBI officials.
The 33-year-old Vasquez-Yanez was born in El Salvador and was last seen in July in Everett. The FBI obtained information related to a connection to Pittsfield, which led to his arrest on Thursday.
The January indictment issued out of Boston accuses the gang members of various crimes including murder, attempted murder, and drug trafficking. The FBI says Vasquez-Yanez received "homeboy status" within the gang, which the FBI says is granted only to members who commit a murder and or inflict serious physical injury on a person in the name of the gang. He allegedly served as "protection" for interstate transport of cocaine loads. 
The FBI's wanted poster said he was considered armed and dangerous.
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Superior Court Briefs: Sept. 12 - Sept. 15

Staff Reports
Cases heard before Judge John Agostini on Monday, September 12.
Casey Hall, 31, of North Adams pleaded guilty to a single count of possession of heroin.
She was ordered to serve 327 days at the Hampden County House of Correction, Chicopee Woman's Facility with credit for time served.
The charges stem form the execution of a search warrant at 56 Orchard Street in Adams on October 22, 2015.
A single count of conspiracy to violate drug laws was dismissed by the state.
Cases heard before Judge John Agostini on Tuesday, September 13.
Benjamin Fielding, 27, of Pittsfield pleaded guilty to a single count of possession of heroin.
He was ordered to serve 18 months at the Berkshire County House of Correction. The charge stems form an incident in Pittsfield on June 8, 2015. 
Two counts of conspiracy to violate drug laws, and single counts of possession of heroin with intent to distribute and drug violation in a school zone were dismissed by the state.
Cases heard before Judge John Agostini on Thursday, September 15.
Kate Frissell, 35, of Hinsdale had not guilty pleas entered on her behalf on single counts of manslaughter, conspiracy to violate drug laws, and possession of heroin with intent to distribute.
She was ordered to be held at the Hampden County House of Correction Chicopee Woman's Facility on $25,000 bail.
Frissell is accused of selling fentanyl laced heroin to 39-year-old Shawn Filiault on February 5, 2016. Filiault died after ingesting the drug. She is also accused of being in possession of heroin with intent to sell when she was arrested on July 8, 2016.
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Police Investigating Robbery of Credit Union of the Berkshires

Staff Reports

The bank was closed and officers were on scene Tuesday afternoon.
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Credit Union of the Berkshires was robbed Tuesday afternoon.
Police say at 12:38 officers responded to the branch in the William Street Plaza after a man entered the bank, brandished a weapon, demanded money, and took off with an undisclosed amount of cash.
The suspect is described as a white man in his early 40s with "scruffy facial hair wearing large dark sunglasses and a gray baseball cap with dark curly hair sticking out."
The man was described as 5-foot 10-inches or 5-foot 11-inches call and weighing about 170 lbs. He was wearing a gray and black hoodless fleece, sweatpants, and gray and black gloves.
"Officers conducted an area search and a K9 made a track to an area where a vehicle had been seen earlier," Police wrote in a statement.
Williams and Egremont Elementary Schools were placed on "lockdown status" as a precautionary measure. The incident is currently under investigation and anyone with information is asked to contact the department.
The bank was closed in the afternoon with signs reading that the branch would resume regular hours the next day.
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