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Former Pittsfield Police Officer Pleads Not Guilty To Embezzlement Charges

Staff Reports
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — A former police officer pleaded not guilty to charges of embezzlement, money laundering, and forgery.
 
Jeffrey Coco is accused of taking more than $200,000 from the Pittsfield Police Officers Union. He had previously been fired from the department after an internal investigation penned that figure at more than $150,000. 
 
Coco was in Central Berkshire District Court on Wednesday entering not guilty pleas. Judge William Rota released him on personal recognizance. Coco is due back in court on May 10.
 
In November, he was found guilty of conduct unbecoming of an officer and criminal conduct by an internal affairs investigation. Coco is accused of stealing from the bank accounts by writing checks to himself and his wife. 
 
The internal affairs report is available below.

Pittsfield Police Internal Affairs Report by iBerkshires.com

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Pittsfield Fire Damages Montgomery Avenue Duplex

By Andy McKeever
iBerkshires Staff

Next door neighbor Tony Paredes snapped this photo of the flames bursting through the windows. 

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Several pets were killed when a fire erupted on the first floor of a duplex on Montgomery Avenue shortly after noontime on Tuesday.

The cause of the fire is still being investigated but appears to be limited mostly to 7 Montgomery Ave. The 9 Montgomery Ave. side suffered "significant smoke damage." 

Deputy Fire Chief Matthew Noyes said the department responded to the report of a structure fire and firefighters arriving on scene could see smoke coming out the building.

A least three windows were blown out by the blaze. Next door neighbor Tony Paredes said the fire expanded quickly. He said he heard a scream and in moments flames burst through the smoke-filled structure's windows.

The fire was contained fairly swiftly with the flames extinguished well before 1 p.m. but there were worries it might have spread through the structure.

"We were a little concerned when we saw smoke coming out of a vent from the basement area," Noyes said.

"Shortly after we had a line to the main body, we sent a crew to the basement. ... That's always a challenge if you have a possible basement fire ... but it turned out to be a little fire."

Everyone was out of the building by the time firefighters arrived. There were a number of pets, however, that apparently succumbed to the fire, including cats, although a snake was saved.

The building and health inspectors are currently evaluating the structure.

"The left side of the duplex has got heavy fire damage in the front room and in the basement," Noyes said. "There is heavy smoke damage throughout the building and some water damage.

"The right side has significant smoke damage, not any water damage, no fire damage that I can see."

According to land records, the home is owned by Melissa Gallagher and Sara Hollander. 

 

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Pittsfield Police Investigating Attempted Robbery On Francis Ave

Staff Reports
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Police are seeking information on an attempted robbery of a Francis Avenue store.
 
Police say on Thursday at 4:38 p.m. dispatched received a call reporting the attempted unarmed robbery from Thing or 2 Variety at 228 Francis Avenue. The clerk said a white male in his mid to late 20s, standing about 5-feet 9-inches tall, with brown hair, scruffy face, and wearing a green hooded sweatshirt attempted to grab cash from the open register. The clerk was completing a sale and the man allegedly pushed the clerk in an attempt to take money.
 
No cash was taken and the clerk was not injured. Police are now investigating the crime and are asking for anyone with information to contact the detective bureau at 448-9705.
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Vermont State Police Launch Unsolved Cases Pages

WATERBURY, Vt. — On the eve of the 12th anniversary of 17-year-old Brianna Maitland's disappearance from Montgomery on March 19, 2004, the Vermont State Police is launching a new tool to provide an increased focus and public awareness of unsolved cases such as Maitland's.

Interactive Vermont Missing Persons and Unsolved Homicides pages have been created in an effort to make case specific information more readily available to the public, and create awareness that might generate new information for investigators.

"The launch of these pages will hopefully generate conversation, awareness and potentially new information to assist investigators. These cases have a profound impact on the lives of victims' families, loved ones, and our communities. Our efforts here are just one step towards ensuring that these cases are not forgotten and that we are committed to finding answers," said Criminal Division Commander Maj. Glenn Hall of the new web tools. "We strongly encourage the public to submit any information that could help bring resolution to these cases."

A searchable map with dropdown lists by name and county allow users to identify those cases, then link to a page with the most current information available on each case.  Within each case page, the public will find a way to submit a tip anonymously, or send an email directly to investigators.

Maitland went missing after her shift as a dishwasher at the Black Lantern Inn; her car was found the next day at an abandoned house a mile away but not linked to her disappearance until days later.

There are currently 55 unsolved homicides listed and 35 long-term ongoing missing person cases in Vermont.  While some of these cases occurred in local jurisdictions, the state police remain committed to providing any assistance needed to local police agencies that lead those investigations.

The department has also updated its website, as part of an update of all Vermont government agencies and departments. The Vermont State Police recently completed and launched its site, along with all agencies within the Department of Public Safety.

The new website includes the latest information available about the state police, including employment and career opportunities, station contacts, commander information and portraits, special teams descriptions, and media content highlighting the state police. New imagery, including VSP-produced videos are available for viewing on the new site and a link to the latest press releases can be found on the home page.

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Superior Court Briefs: March 15 - March 17

Staff Reports
Cases heard before Judge John Agostini on Tuesday, March 15.
 
Carlton Harley Jr., 44, of Pittsfield pleaded guilty to a single count of possession of cocaine with intent to distribute.
 
He was ordered to serve 18 months at the Berkshire County House of Correction. He will begin the sentence on March 25. 
 
The charges stem from an incident in Pittsfield on April 25, 2015. Single counts of possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony, assault by means of a dangerous weapon, assault and battery on a family member, and illegal possession of a firearm were dismissed by the state.
 
Jeffrey Hall, 27, of North Adams pleaded guilty to a single count of possession of heroin with intent to distribute. 
 
He was ordered to serve two and a half years at the Berkshire County House of Correction. the charge stems from the execution of a search warrant at his Brook Terrace home on June 11, 2015.
 
Cases heard before Judge John Agostini on Wednesday, March 16.
 
Timothy Dayton, 49, of Pittsfield pleaded guilty to single counts of operating under the influence of alcohol - his third offense - and  operating a motor vehicle with a suspended license in connection to an incident in Pittsfield on February 4, 2015. He pleaded guilty to two counts of leaving the scene of a property damage accident, and single counts of operating under the influence of alcohol - his third offense - negligent operation of a motor vehicle, operating a vehicle with a suspended license, and failure to stop for a police officer in connection with an incident in Lenox on September 11, 2015.
 
He was ordered to serve concurrent two and a half years at the Berkshire County House of Correction on the two counts of operating under the influence of alcohol. He was given concurrent time at the Berkshire County House of Correction on the negligent operation of a motor vehicle and leaving the scene of a property damage accident. The other charges were placed on file.
 
Valerie Soules, 62, of Pittsfield had a not guilty plea entered on her behalf on a single count of sexual relations with inmates.
 
She was released on personal recognizance. Soules is accused of engaging in a sexual relationship with an inmate at the Berkshire County House of Correction while she was employed there. The incidents allegedly occurred between October 1, 2014 and September 17, 2015.
 
Cases heard before Judge John Agostini on Thursday, March 17.
 
Andrew Dupont, 22, of South Egremont pleaded guilty to two counts of assault by means of a dangerous weapon, two counts of conspiracy to commit armed assault with intent to rob, two counts of conspiracy to commit assault by means of a dangerous weapon, and single counts of kidnapping while being armed with a firearm, intimidation of a witness or other person, illegal possession of a rifle or shotgun, conspiracy to commit armed robbery while masked, and conspiracy to commit kidnapping while being armed with a firearm.
 
He was ordered to serve concurrent two-year sentences at the Berkshire County House of Correction on the kidnapping while being armed with a firearm, intimidation of a witness, assault by means of a dangerous weapon, and illegal possession of a rifle or shotgun charge. He was placed on two-years probation on the other charges.
 
The charges stem from an incident in Great Barrington on August 20, 2014 and involved two men, ages 20 and 21. Two counts of armed assault with intent to rob, and single counts of armed robbery while masked and possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony were dismissed by the state.
 
Joseph Pini, 38, of North Adams pleaded guilty to a single count of possession of heroin with intent to distribute.
 
He was ordered to serve one year at the Berkshire County House of Correction. The charge stems from a motor vehicle stop and the execution of a search warrant at his home in North Adams on March 10, 2015.
 
Tricia Reynolds, 30, of Pittsfield pleaded guilty to single counts of possession of heroin with intent to distribute, possession of cocaine, and trespassing.
 
She was ordered to serve two and a half years at the Berkshire County House of Correction on the possession of heroin charge, and six months on the possession of cocaine charge. She was given a concurrent 30-day sentence on the trespassing charge.
 
The charges stem from an incident in Pittsfield on November 6, 2014.  
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