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Pittsfield Blogger Dan Valenti Cited For Harassment
Staff Reports On: 02:46PM / Wednesday June 27, 2012
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Updated on June 27, 2012 at 10:50 with a comment from Dan Valenti.

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — A local blogger was ordered to remove all references to Meredith Nilan after being dealt a harassment prevention order.

The Berkshire Eagle is reporting that Nilan, who was recently the subject of a highly publicized hit and run pedestrian accident, was granted the order in Central Berkshire District Court on Wednesday.

The order requires Valenti to remove any and all references to her as well as stay 100 yards away from her, stay away from her home and place of employment and refrain from any contact or abuse.

The order is effective until Monday, July 9, when a court hearing will take place.

Valenti, a former columnist for both The Berkshire Eagle and the Pittsfield Gazette, started his own blog, Planet Valenti, in 2010 and has made a name for himself with his brash criticism of local politics. Nilan, the daughter of Berkshire Superior Court Probation Chief Clifford Nilan, was the focus of numerous postings by Valenti. Those postings frequently speculated on her disposition, parentage, political pull and her actions before and after the incident.

On Wednesday, Valenti told iBerkshires via email that he had yet to see the judge's decision and he would have to see that before determining his next course of action.

"I found out about it while reading the comments on my blog, ironically," Valenti said. "I've never had any contact with Ms. Nilan nor do I intend that. I will also add that this case brings up an interesting First Amendment discussion."

Editor's note: The hit-and-run charge was dismissed. We have corrected the description.


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Pittsfield Boy Attacked By Dogs
Pittsfield Police On: 07:00PM / Wednesday June 13, 2012
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PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Three dogs have been place under quarantine after reportedly attacking a child on Monday night.

Monday, June 11, at 9:28 p.m., the Pittsfield emergency dispatch center received a report of a child being attacked by a dog at 75 Edward Ave.

Pittsfield Fire Department and Pittsfield Police officers responded to  the scene. According to the investigation report by Officer John Murphy, the 9-year-old boy was bleeding from wounds to his head, arms, and face area.

The boy was transported to Berkshire Medical Center by Action  Ambulance.

Witness stated that three dogs were involved in the attack. The three pitbull terriers, owned by Lori Rohde and Adam Pollack of 75 Edward Ave., were placed in quarantine at the Eleanor Sonsini Animal Shelter. The quarantine is a rabies protocol. The  three dogs do have current vaccinations. One pit buil is an adult male, the  second a six-month-old male, and the third a pregnant female.

The case is under investigation by Animal Control Officers Joseph Chague and Terry Moran.

In accordance with Massachusetts General Law, Chapter 140 section 157,  Pittsfield Police Chief Michael Wynn deemed the three dogs vicious animals, and ordered the dogs be restrained, removed, or disposed of as necessary. The owners may appeal this decision to a hearing at Central Berkshire District Court. There is  no criminal offense involved in this case


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Nilan Receives Slap On Wrist For Pedestrian Accident
Staff Reports On: 03:38PM / Wednesday June 06, 2012
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PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Meredith Nilan must apologize to the man she nearly killed ... and that's basically it.

According to The Berkshire Eagle, Nilan, 24, pled guilty to negligent operation of a motor vehicle on Wednesday — admitting that she hit Peter Moore while driving her father's car on Dec. 8, 2011, on Winesap Road.

Moore suffered multiple injuries including a broken neck and a brain injury and Nilan was accused of fleeing from the scene.

The case finally reached Central Berkshire District Court on Wednesday, when Nilan reached a plea bargain. In exchange for pleading guilty, Nilan's case was continued without a finding for six months, and she was ordered not operate a vehicle between 7 p.m. and 7 a.m. for 30 days and write a letter of apology admitting her negligence to Moore. A charge of leaving the scene of a personal injury accident was dismissed.

The case against the daughter of the chief probation officer at Berkshire Superior Court nearly never saw a courtroom when Westfield Clerk Magistrate Nathan Byrnes found no probable cause of her guilt. However, the Police Department appealed the decision and Springfield District Court Judge William Hadley overturned Byrnes' ruling.


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Pittsfield Man Sentenced To 25 Years For Child Rape
Staff Reports On: 02:47PM / Tuesday June 05, 2012
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NORTHAMPTON, Mass. — A Pittsfield man was sentenced to 19 to 25 years in prison on dozens of child rape related charges.

Aaron Tarjick, 36, of Pittsfield was found guilty by a jury in Hampshire Superior Court on Tuesday on 17 counts of sexual acts toward two separate child victims — 13 of which occurred in Berkshire County.

Tarjick was found guilty on 11 counts of indecent assault and battery on a child under 14, three counts of forcible rape of a child and single counts of aggravated rape of a child, rape and abuse of a child and open and gross lewd and lascivious acts.

He was found not guilty on a single count of posing and exhibiting a child in a state of nudity.

Of those charges, a Berkshire County grand jury indicted him on eight counts of indecent assault and battery on a child under 14, four counts of forcible rape of a child and a single count of posing and exhibiting a child in a state of nudity. The Berkshire County offenses occurred between 2006 and 2010 in Dalton and Becket.

Tarjick was arrested on August 18, 2010 after the biological father of one of the victim notified the state police that his 13-year-old daughter had been sexually assaulted in Middlefield. The state police investigation revealed that Tarjick committed similar acts on the same victim and another victim in Dalton and Becket.

The investigation resulted to a search warrant being executed at the defendant's Middlefield home and subsequent arrest.

Tarjick was sentenced on Tuesday to 19 to 25 years in prison followed by 10 years of supervised probation. He will also be required to register as a sex offender.

"Justice has been served... I am grateful to the jury for their attentiveness and hard work. Sitting as a juror on a child abuse case is particularly difficult and this case was certainly no exception," Assistant Northwestern District Attorney Linda Pisano said in a statement. "My biggest praise goes to the victims who had the incredible courage to come forward and tell their very difficult story. The bravery of the victims has helped other children be safe."

Tarjick's wife, Mackenzie Tarjick, 34, also of Pittsfield is awaiting her trial on a single count of wanton or reckless endangerment of a child under 18. Her trial is scheduled for the summer.


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Mass Disturbance Follows Pittsfield Street Fair
By Joe Durwin On: 11:19PM / Thursday May 17, 2012
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Police made a number of arrests and used pepper spray to disperse the burgeoning crowd.
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — A Melee broke out on Melville Street immediately following the conclusion of the first 3rd Thursday street fair of the season, resulting in extensive crowd control measures and multiple arrests.

According to the Police Department, the incident initially stemmed from a fight between two young women on the small side street just off North Street, then spiraled into chaos when two officers responding on the scene became surrounded by a large crowd of youths.

Capt. David Granger estimated that a crowd of more than 100 people, mostly teenagers, converged around the initial disturbance.

"They tried to break up the fight. A mob mentality took over, from the large crowd. Multiple arrests were made," he said.

Well over a dozen officers arrived on the scene, including three plain-clothed officers who emerged from an unmarked police vehicle as screaming teens ran in all directions. Pepper spray was used to push back the disorganized crush of onlookers, and several youths were seen leaving the scene showing visible signs of facial spraying. At least three young men were seen being subdued and handcuffed in the street and adjacent parking lot.

A number of the young people present at the disturbance voiced the opinion that excessive force was used in containing the initial incident.

"After 3rd Thursday, they told us we needed to get off the street, so we did, and there's some stupid people fighting," said one young girl, a relative of one of those arrested. "My nephew's standing there looking around, and nine cops tackled him for no reason. All of a sudden they're running around pepper spraying everybody."

Police ordered all pedestrians to clear Melville Street and intersecting North Pearl Street, opposite the Boys & Girls Club, a process made more complicated by a continuing stream of curious pedestrians from among the large crowd still circulating on North Street. The street remained closed for approximately a half-hour in the aftermath of the affray.

Granger said he would classify the incident as "a large disturbance" rather than a riot.





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