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Day Six: U.S. Attorney's Office Still Unable to Comment on Adams Search

By Stephen Dravis
iBerkshires Staff
The cause of the FBI raid on Murray Street on Saturday night is still undisclosed. The U.S. Attorney's Office has confirmed it occurred but will not answer any other questions about it.
ADAMS, Mass. — Nearly a week after the FBI conducted an investigation at a multi-family residence on Murray Street in Adams, federal officials continue to decline comment.
 
iBerkshires.com has communicated daily with spokespeople at the U.S. Attorney's Office in Boston, who have been responsive but unable to give any details about the incident.
 
We have specifically asked whether the Adams search was related to FBI Director James Comey's Thursday testimony on Capitol Hill, when he reported the agency had arrested more than 10 people who were planning to commit violence connected to the July 4 holiday.
 
And we have asked whether any individuals are in custody in connection with the Murray Street search.
 
The U.S. Attorney's Office said it could not comment on either question.
 
On the evening of July 4, about eight federal agents could be seen going in and out of 10 Murray St.
 
The agents, some of whom wore sidearms, went in and out of a side door off the driveway of the house, bringing out boxes marked "evidence."
 
Adams Police Chief Richard Tarsa, who observed the activity along with the fire chief, referred all questions to the U.S. Attorney's Office in Springfield after a conversation with one of the federal agents.
 
A representative of the Springfield office responded to an initial email on Sunday afternoon. Subsequent questions have been directed to the Boston office, where officials have promised to release information as soon as it is available.
 
The issue was not discussed at Wednesday's meeting of the Adams Board of Selectmen.
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Superior Court Briefs: June 29 - July 7

Staff Reports
Cases heard before Judge MaryLou Rup on Monday, June 29.
 
Deveron Wicks, 27, of Springfield had not guilty pleas entered on his behalf on single counts of conspiracy to violate drug laws to wit: trafficking in cocaine, and conspiracy to violate drug laws to wit: trafficking in heroin.
 
He is being held at the Berkshire County House of Correction on $100,000 bail, which was set at a previous arraignment. Wicks is accused of conspiring with others to sell cocaine and heroin in Berkshire County between January 20, 2015 and March 6, 2015.
 
Cases heard before Judge MaryLou Rup on Wednesday, July 1.
 
Rashaan Bryant, 39, of Springfield had not guilty pleas entered on his behalf on single counts of trafficking in cocaine, trafficking in heroin, conspiracy to violate drug laws to wit: trafficking in cocaine, and conspiracy to violate drug laws to wit: trafficking in heroin.
 
He was ordered to be held at the Berkshire County House of Correction on $50,000 cash or $500,000 surety bail. Bryant is accused of selling cocaine and heroin in Berkshire County between December 9, 2014 and April 7, 2015.
 
Gina Russo, 22, of Adams had not guilty pleas entered on her behalf on four counts of distribution of heroin, four counts of conspiracy to violate drug laws to wit: distribution of cocaine, three counts of distribution of cocaine, and three counts of conspiracy to violate drug laws to wit: distribution of heroin.
 
She was released on personal recognizance. The incidents allegedly occurred in Pittsfield between May 7, 2015 and May 21, 2015.
 
Rafael Santos, 26, of Springfield had not guilty pleas entered on his behalf on two counts of conspiracy to violate drug laws to wit: trafficking in cocaine, and conspiracy to violate drug laws to wit: trafficking in heroin.
 
He was ordered to be held at the Berkshire County House of Correction on $20,000 cash or $200,000 surety bail. Santos is accused of conspiring with others to sell cocaine and heroin in Berkshire County between December 19, 2014 and April 7, 2015.
 
Cases heard before Judge John Agostini on Monday, July 6.
 
Terrence Gibbons, 29, of Springfield had not guilty pleas entered on his behalf on single counts of conspiracy to violate drug laws to wit: trafficking in cocaine, and conspiracy to violate drug laws to wit: trafficking in heroin.
 
He was ordered to be held at the Berkshire County House of Correction on $25,000 bail. Gibbons is accused of conspiring with others to sell cocaine and heroin in Berkshire County between January 20, 2015 and March 6, 2015.
 
Daniel Crimes, 28, of Springfield had not guilty pleas entered on his behalf on single counts of conspiracy to violate drug laws to wit: trafficking in cocaine, and conspiracy to violate drug laws to wit: trafficking in heroin.
 
He was ordered to be held at the Berkshire County House of Correction on $25,000 bail. Grimes is accused of conspiring with others to sell cocaine and heroin in Berkshire County between January 20, 2015 and March 6, 2015.
 
Terrance Harris, 35, of Springfield had not guilty pleas entered on his behalf on single counts of conspiracy to violate drug laws to wit: trafficking in cocaine, and conspiracy to violate drug laws to wit: trafficking in heroin.
 
He was ordered to be held at the Berkshire County House of Correction on $7,500 bail. Harris is accused of conspiring with others to sell cocaine and heroin in Berkshire County between January 20, 2015 and March 6, 2015.
  
Matthew White, 23, of Pittsfield was placed on pre-trial probation on a single count of possession of methylamphetamine.
 
His charge will be dismissed on Sept. 2 if he incurs no new criminal charges. The charge stems from the execution of a search warrant in Pittsfield on June 3, 2014.
 
Cases heard before Judge John Agostini on Tuesday, July 7.
 
Jereme Capitanio, 32, of Lee pled guilty to four counts of breaking and entering in the daytime, and a single count of receiving stolen property over $250.
 
He was ordered to serve one year at the Berkshire County House of Correction.
 
Six other counts of breaking and entering in the daytime were dismissed by the state. Capitanio was accused of breaking into homes in Otis and Sandisfield between January 31, 2013 and February 22, 2013.
 
William Guidi, 49, of Egremont pled guilty to a single count of possession of heroin - his second offense.
 
He was ordered to serve two years at the Berkshire County House of Correction. 
 
A single count of conspiracy to violate drug laws was dismissed by the state. The charges stem from a motor vehicle stop in Great Barrington on October 1, 2014.
 
Brian Snow, 33, of Otis pled guilty to five counts of breaking and entering in the daytime.
 
He was ordered to serve two years at the Berkshire County House of Correction - one of which will be suspended - on one of the counts. He was placed on three years probation on the other counts. 
 
Seven additional counts of breaking and entering in the daytime were dismissed by the state.
 
Snow broke into homes in Otis and Sandisfield between January 2, 2013 and February 22, 2013.
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Man Remains In Critical Condition Following Pittsfield Shooting; Police To Boost Patrols

Staff Reports
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Police say there will be increased patrols in the westside neighborhood where a 25-year-old man was killed and four others injured.
 
The shooting on the Fourth of July killed Ronald Pinel. District Attorney David Capeless' office said on Monday that Massachusetts Associate Chief Medical Examiner Andrew Sexton determined that Pinel died because of a gunshot wound to the chest. The autopsy was performed Saturday night. 
 
A 20-year-old man was transported to Baystate Medical Center, where he remains in critical condition, and a 25-year-old man was hospitalized but then released from Berkshire Medical Center. A 20-year-old woman remains at Berkshire Medical Center in stable condition and a 26-year-old man was treated and released from Berkshire Medical Center.
 
Mayor Daniel Bianchi also released a statement on Monday saying he met with the Police Department Captain David Granger, the Berkshire County Sheriff Thomas Bowler, City Council President Melissa Mazzeo and Shannon Grant Coordinator Adam Hinds in the wake of the shooting. 
 
Granger said "there will be increased staffing and patrols in the neighborhood" in the release and the mayor encouraged residents to become active in neighborhood watch programs.
 
"The event that occurred over the weekend is understandably concerning to the public. On Sunday I spent time with the Sheriff and Pittsfield Police reviewing what happened. I am confident in the work the Pittsfield Police and other law enforcement agencies do to keep the public safe," Bianchi said in the release. 
 
City officials refused the provide any additional details about the incident that occurred just blocks from North Street, at the intersection of Dewey and Linden. The mayor's office said the incident is "under investigation at this moment in time."
 
Bianchi offered assistance to residents who want to become active in neighborhood watch programs, encouraging them to be the "eyes and ears for the police force."
 
"The neighborhood watch program is an excellent resource for citizens to utilize. I will continue to strongly support the program.  The purpose of a neighborhood watch program is to encourage and train neighbors to be the 'eyes and ears' for the police force," Bianchi said.  
 
"At no time should citizens act as the police.  Those interested in establishing a new neighborhood watch program can contact the mayor's office and we will provide the appropriate tools. There is no cost for the training to create a neighborhood watch and there are numerous benefits from establishing one."
 
He added that if residents "see something, say something to law enforcement." People can report information about on-going investigations or report suspicious behavior anonymously by calling the police at 413-448-9700. 
 
Bowler added, "there is a strong collaboration between public safety agencies here in Berkshire County" working to keep the public safe.
 
Bianchi, who is up for re-election, emphasized that during his time in office he has boosted public safety initiatives.
 
"During my time in office I have supported numerous public safety initiatives. I have added resources to our Police force including a crime analyst in 2013 and additional police officer positions in 2014 and 2015. I have also established regular Public Safety Task Force meetings which include the Pittsfield Police Chief, the Pittsfield Housing Authority, the District Attorney and the Berkshire County Sheriff's Department. I have worked to expand the Neighborhood Crime Watch program, secured funding for the Shannon Grant, an anti-gang violence grant focused on youth, and established a Downtown Ambassador program in partnership with Berkshire Community College and Downtown Inc. In addition, every educational and economic development initiative has the potential to positively affect public safety by providing opportunities for our young citizens."

Police were on Robbins Avenue Sunday afternoon investigating the shooting.

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — One man is dead after a shooting Saturday night at the intersection of Dewey Avenue and Linden Street.

District Attorney David Capeless's office says Ronald Pinel, 25, of Pittsfield was pronounced dead at Berkshire Medical Center and four others were injured during the shooting.

Police responded to shots being fired in the area shortly after 11 p.m. and found three people in need of medical assistance. All three were transported to Berkshire Medical Center.
 
Pinel was pronounced dead and two others were hospitalized - a 20-year-old man was transported to Baystate Medical Center and a 25-year-old remains at BMC.
 
Two other individuals, a 20-year-old woman and a 26-year-old man were also treated at Berkshire Medical Center for injuries allegedly occurred as part of the shooting. 
 
As of 11:45 on Sunday, Police had blocked off Robbins Avenue for the investigation. Police are asking for anyone with information to call them at 413-448-9700.
 
The investigation is being conducted by Pittsfield Police, State Police detectives assigned to Capeless's office, and the State Police Crime Scene Services.
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Superior Court Briefs: June 24

Staff Reports
Cases heard before Judge MaryLou Rup on Wednesday, June 24.
 
Joseph Wiggins, 38, of Pittsfield had not guilty pleas entered on his behalf on single counts of possession of ammunition without a firearm identification card, and armed career felon.
 
He was ordered to be held at the Berkshire County House of Correction on $5,000 cash or $50,000 surety bail. The charges stem from the execution of a search warrant at his home on May 8, 2015.
 
William Morrison Jr., 31, of Pittsfield had not guilty pleas entered on his behalf on three counts of receiving stolen property, two counts of breaking and entering in the daytime, two counts of larceny over $250, and single counts of larceny of a firearm, illegal possession of a firearm, and illegal possession of a rifle or shotgun.
 
He was ordered to be held at the Berkshire County House of Correction on $20,000 bail or $200,000 surety. The charges stem from house break ins Pittsfield between July 14, 2014 and September 10, 2014.
 
Keith Larrabee, 20, of North Adams had a not guilty plea entered on his behalf on a single count of assault and battery by means of a dangerous weapon.
 
He was ordered to be held at the Berkshire County House of Correction on $50,000 cash or $500,000 surety bail. The charge stems from an incident in North Adams involving a 33-year-old man on April 24, 2015.
 
Nicholas Konton, 24, of Pittsfield had not guilty pleas entered on his behalf on three counts of distribution of heroin - his second offense - three counts of conspiracy to violate drug laws, and single counts of possession of heroin with intent to distribute - his second offense - and drug violation within a school zone.
 
He was ordered to be held at the Berkshire County House of Correction on $15,000 cash or $150,000 surety bail. The incidents allegedly occurred in Pittsfield between May 12, 2015 and May 23, 2015.
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Pittsfield Firefighters Busy With Third Fire in 24 Hours

By Andy McKeever
iBerkshires Staff

 
Firefighters tackled two fires on Tuesday: an apartment fire on Columbus Avenue (above) and a house fire at 20 Larch St.

Updated at 11:58 a.m. with third fire report.

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — City firefighters are being kept on their toes this week. The department's dealt with three structures fires in 24 hours.

"We certainly have days we have structure fires, but to get three in a 24-hour period is kind of unusual for us," Fire Chief Robert Czerwinski said right after his crews snuffed out an apartment fire on Tuesday morning. "The guys held up very well, they're not ready to call it quits yet."

The chief did not think there was a pattern to the fires.

"It all seems to be accidental," he said, with "nothing incendiary."

On Monday at about 11:30 a.m. firefighters snuffed out a structure fire at 15 Miller St., which is off Lakeway Drive.

On Tuesday, at about 8:30, firefighters put out a blaze on the other side of the city, at 20 Larch St.; two hours later, they were at 297 Columbus Ave. dealing with the grease fire

"It came in as a kitchen fire, heavy smoke on arrival," Czerwinski said. "We had a kitchen burning on the third floor, Apt. 9 in a 11-unit building." 

The fire was knocked down fairly quickly but the family - two adults and four children - were displaced. The Red Cross was expected at the scene shortly to help them. No one was injured and no other apartments were affected.

"We're pretty confident [it was a cooking fire]," he said. "The occupants told us what happened."

It was a little less clear how the fire at 20 Larch St. began.

"Fire crews arrived at 20 Larch St. a little before 9 o'clock this morning. They found heavy fire coming out of the back kitchen area. They made an aggressive attack to the indoors and knocked that fire down," Fire Chief Robert Czerwinski said.

"There was some extension into the living area and some down into the basement."

By 9 a.m., crews had already put out the blaze, which Czerwinski said appears to have started in the kitchen. He said nobody was home at the time and the neighbors called in the blaze when they saw flames and smoke coming through the rear windows.

"This was cooking for a little while before it was discovered," Czerwinski said.

That structure fire nearly caused the closure of Merrill Road. Fire officials said they considered closing Merrill Road but ultimately determined they didn't need access to the fire hydrant.

"They called extra resources in," Czerwinski said, of what came close to being a two-alarm fire. "There are probably 14, 15 firefighters here."

There is smoke and heat damage throughout the home, he said, but the fire itself was mostly contained in the rear of the building. According to land records, the home is owned by Alliance Properties LLC. 

Later, Deputy Andrew Stephenson reported that two adults and three children were displaced. The Red Cross was being called to assist them with finding lodging. 


Czerwinski said fire inspectors will hopefully determine the cause by the end of the day.

On Monday, a woman was displaced from her Miller Street home after a first-floor couch caught on fire. Luckily, one of the city's deputy chiefs live across the street and when his wife noticed the smoke, she quickly called 911.

"She knew what to call in and what to say so they knew there was fire," Czerwinski said.

Again, in short order firefighters contained the blaze that had spread from the first floor up to the attic in the rear of the building.

"They think that was caused by careless smoking. The fire appeared to have originated from a couch on the first floor," Czerwinski said.

The homeowner, Margaret Anne Miller, was not home at the time and she is currently displaced from the home. Czerwinski said that fire is still under investigation.

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