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Multiple Towns Battle Blaze in Pittsfield Apartment Building

By Andy McKeever
iBerkshires Staff

Lenox, Adams, and Williamstown sent ladder trucks to the scene.
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Multiple towns joined Pittsfield Fire early Sunday morning to combat a blaze in a multi-family building on Dalton Avenue.
 
Fire Chief Robert Czerwinski said a family of five was taken to Berkshire Medical Center for smoke inhalation during the blaze which completely destroyed the apartment building.
 
The chief said the department received the call to respond to 8 Dalton Avenue at 3:30 in the morning as flames shot out of the building.
 
"On arrival fire was showing and people were evacuated from the building. We believe everyone is out of the building and safe. Some of the families were transported to Berkshire Medical Center for smoke inhalation," Czerwinski said. 
 
Czerwinski didn't know exactly how many people lived in the building but it features four apartments on the upper floors and office space on the ground level.
 
Three Berkshire County towns ended up being called in to bring ladder trucks because the city still remains without one. The city's primary truck has been in the shop for repairs and the reserve was taken out of service.
 
"We obviously didn't have our ladder truck. It wasn't a problem offhand but as the fire escalated we did call in multiple ladder trucks from Lenox, number one, Williamstown, number two, and Adams, number three, because of the ice on the street. We couldn't throw ground ladders up," Czerwinski said. 
 
"It was unsafe to operate off of ground ladders so we had multiple aerial ladders. The roof was collapsed. The third flood collapsed."
 
The chief expects his ladder truck to return to the department after repairs this upcoming week and the City Council has approved the purchase of a used, 2014, ladder truck as well. 
 
Fire investigators have not yet determined a cause. As of 8 a.m. firefighters were continuing to snuff out the last of the remaining fire.
 
Hinsdale was on scene to provide rehabilitation service as the temperatures were below freezing. Both Action Ambulance and County Ambulance were on scene throughout providing assistance. The Red Cross was on hand as well.
 
The cold weather was a particular factor in trying to get equipment stabilized to fight the fire. 
 
"The ice and cold. Obviously the streets are pretty well frozen up. City yard came out with a sander and tried to get the sand down as best as we can. The problem with that is until we can get down to the pavement, the ladder trucks will slide around on the ice. That's why it was important to get the sanders here early," Czerwinski said.
 
A portion of Dalton Avenue and Tyler Street was closed for hours and Czerwinski expected that to remain until the afternoon. 
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Superior Court Briefs: Jan. 9 - Jan. 12

Staff Reports
Cases heard before Judge John Agostini on Monday, Jan. 9.
 
John Smith, 52, of Hinsdale pleaded guilty to three counts of larceny of a firearm, and single counts of unarmed burglary, breaking and entering in the nighttime, larceny over $250, and conspiracy to commit a crime.
 
He was ordered to serve 18 months of a two and a half year sentence at the Berkshire County House of Correction on all charges except for unarmed burglary. He was placed on three years probation on that charge.
 
The charges stem from a housebreak in Pittsfield on May 28, 2012.
 
Richard Martel, 27, of Pittsfield pleaded guilty to a single count of aggravated assault and battery by means of a dangerous weapon.
 
He was ordered to serve four to six years at the Massachusetts Correctional Institution at Cedar Junction.
 
The incident occurred in Pittsfield on February 29, 2016 and involved a 37-year-old woman. Single counts of armed assault with intent to murder and assault and battery by means of a dangerous weapon on a pregnant victim were dismissed by the state.
 
Jennifer Martin, 26, of Pittsfield had not guilty pleas entered on her behalf on single counts of trafficking a person for sexual servitude and conspiracy to traffick a person for sexual servitude.
 
She was released on personal recognizance. The charges stem from an incident in Berkshire County involving a 19-year-old woman on October 20, 2016.
 
Thomas Nelson, 31, of Williamstown had not guilty pleas entered on his behalf on two counts of enticing a child under the age of 16, and disseminating harmful matter to a minor.
 
He was released on personal recognizance. The incidents allegedly occurred in Williamstown between April 1, 2016 and August 11, 2016 and involved a 13-year-old girl.
 
Manuel Pryjma, 27, of Great Barrington had not guilty pleas entered on his behalf on three counts of rape.
 
He was released on personal recognizance. Pryjma is accused of assaulting a 21-year-old woman in Great Barrington on July 23, 2016.
 
Cases heard before Judge John Agostini on Wednesday, Jan. 11.
 
Lauriano Maysonet, 34, of Pittsfield had not guilty pleas entered on his behalf on single counts of kidnapping, armed robbery while masked, larceny over $250, intimidation of a witness or other person, and fraudulent use of a credit card.
 
He was ordered to be held at the Berkshire County House of Correction on $25,000 bail. The incident allegedly occurred in Pittsfield on December 12, 2016 and involved a 52-year-old woman.
 
Joseph Loftus, 36, of Pittsfield had not guilty pleas entered on his behalf on single counts of kidnapping, armed robbery while masked, larceny over $250, intimidation of a witness or other person, and fraudulent use of a credit card.
 
He was ordered to be held at the Berkshire County House of Correction on $5,000 bail. The incident allegedly occurred in Pittsfield on December 12, 2016 and involved a 52-year-old woman.
 
Cases heard before Judge John Agostini on Thursday, Jan. 12.
 
Shaun Morton, 46, of Pittsfield pleaded guilty to single counts of possession of cocaine with intent to distribute, drug violation in a park zone, and possession of Suboxone.
 
He was ordered to serve two and a half to three years at the Massachusetts Correctional Institution at Cedar Junction on the possession of cocaine with intent to distribute charge. He was given two and a half years to be served on and after the first on the park zone charge. He was given a concurrent one-day sentence on the other charge. The charges stem from a motor vehicle stop in Pittsfield on June 11, 2015.
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Superior Court Briefs: Dec. 28

Staff Reports
Cases heard before Judge Daniel Ford on Wednesday, Dec. 28.
 
Sharareh Cordero, 27, of Pittsfield had a single count of conspiracy to violate drug laws continued without a finding for one year.
 
The charge stems from the execution of a search warrant at her West Street home on March 22, 2016. Single counts of possession of phencyclidine and reckless endangerment of a child were dismissed by the state.
 
Charles Robinson, 43, of Peekskill, N.Y. had not guilty pleas entered on his behalf on three count of trafficking a person for sexual servitude, and single counts of deriving support from prostitution, and conspiracy to traffick a person for sexual servitude.
 
He was ordered to be held without bail at the Berkshire County House of Correction. The charges stem form incidents in Berkshire County involving women, ages 18 and 23, between October 20, 2016 and October 28, 2016. 
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Former Pittsfield Officer Coco Now Facing Larceny, Identity Theft Charges

Staff Reports
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The former Pittsfield Patrol Police Union President Jeffrey Coco pleaded not guilty to two counts of larceny and a single count of identity theft.
 
Coco entered those pleas in Berkshire Superior Court on Wednesday. Judge Daniel Ford released him on personal recognizance.
 
Coco is accused of taking more than $200,000 between January 2008 and July 2015 from the union when he served in various roles including treasurer. The district attorney's office now says he created a false document to get access to the funds.
 
He had already been charged with embezzlement after allegedly making cash withdrawals and writing checks from the union account into his or his wife's name. An internal investigation later led to his firing from the Police Department for misconduct. 
 
The issue dates back to July 2015 when the International Brotherhood of Police Officers in Springfield notified Police Chief Michael Wynn and former Mayor Daniel Bianchi about the accounts. Coco was then put on administrative leave and the internal investigation began. A few months later, he was fired. 
 
The district attorney's office concurrently launched its own investigation and in March Coco was arrested and charged with embezzlement. 
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Pittsfield Fire Knocks Down Blaze On East Street

By Andy McKeever
iBerkshires Staff

A portion of East Street was closed and traffic was backed up.
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — A fire at Carlo Motor Express on East Street caused heavy traffic backups as firefighters worked to save two tractor trailers and minimize damage to the building.
 
Fire Chief Robert Czerwinski said the department was called shortly before 2 in the afternoon to 1551 East Street, right near the junction to Merrill Road, to find flames shooting out the side of the building. 
 
"On arrival, the Police Department found fire blowing out the west side of the building. Our crews got in, made an aggressive interior attack, kept the damage to a minimum," Czerwinski said.
 
The building serves as a garage for tractor trailers, two of which were inside it at the time. Within 15 minutes, the fire was knocked down - preventing any damage to those vehicles. Czerwinski says had those burned the company would have been out a few hundred thousand dollars.
 
"We are probably estimating damage to the building at around $50,000 between stock that is damaged inside the building and the building itself," Czerwinski said.
 
Nobody was in the building at the time and the cause is still undetermined, but Czerwinski said it appeared to be electrical in nature. The owner of the building had been on site that morning but didn't notice anything unusual. There were no injuries.
 
"We had a full first alarm assignment, so we had probably 12 guys here," Czerwinski said.
 
Dalton was also on scene but wasn't utilized. The city's ladder truck is currently out of service so Dalton brought its to the scene just in case. 
 
The fire forced the closure of East Street from right near Whorles to the junction with Merrill Road. That caused significant backup, particularly on the west side of East Street where cars were lined up nearly to Newell Street. The fire mid-day two days before Christmas so there was an uptick in the amount of traffic.
 
The road remained closed until after 3:30. 
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Recent Entries:
Multiple Towns Battle Blaze in Pittsfield Apartment Building
Superior Court Briefs: Jan. 9 - Jan. 12
Superior Court Briefs: Dec. 28
Former Pittsfield Officer Coco Now Facing Larceny, Identity Theft Charges
Pittsfield Fire Knocks Down Blaze On East Street
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