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Ex-Adams Officer Charged With ID Fraud, Prescription Forgery

Staff Reports
Thomas Cook

ADAMS, Mass. — A former Adams Police officer has been charged with trying to get a prescription filled falsely by using another man's identity.

According to a report on MassLive, 35-year-old Thomas Cook of Cheshire was charged in Westfield District Court for "uttering a false prescription, identity fraud, police or witness intimidation, receiving stolen property and attempting to commit a crime."

According to the police report, Cook tried to pass himself off as Todd Syrett, whom he had arrested in 2012. He dropped off a prescription for a stimulant known as methylphenidate (Ritalin, etc) at Westfield CVS and showed Syrett's driver's license to the pharmacist, the report said.

When the real Todd Syrett was texted that the prescription was ready, he contacted the pharmacy, which in turn contacted police, according to MassLive.

Cook was released on personal recognizance Judge Philip Contant after being arraigned.

Police Chief Richard Tarsa said on Wednesday night that Cook was no longer in the town's employ.

"He is no longer an employee of Adams or the Adams Police Department and he officially resigned Tuesday afternoon," he said.

Cook had been on the force for more than four years. He was hired to replace Officer Alan Vigiard, who was charged with possessing child pornography, then laid off because of budget cuts. He was reinstalled in 2010 in part because of a federal grant.

     

Adams Structure Fire Contained; Pets Rescued

By Jack Guerino
iBerkshires Staff
Adams firefighters were on the scene of a structure fire early Sunday morning on Water Street.

ADAMS, Mass. — Firefighters swiftly contained a house fire early Sunday morning, saving more than a dozen pets.

The Fire Department responded to the report of a structure fire at 2:30 a.m. at 27 Water St.

Heavy smoke could be seen coming from the back of the two-story house, and some witnesses said flames were visible.

"The first arriving units were on the scene within three minutes, and the external fire was knocked down within five to seven minutes," Fire Chief Paul Goyette said. "Then the fire got into the voids of the structure so we had to do a lot of opening up."
 
Goyette said they were able to get everyone out of the house safely and rescue most of the pets in the house.
 
"Everybody got out OK," he said. "We also rescued 10 iguanas and one cat; two iguanas didn't make it."
 
Home owner Laura Borowski posted later that two bearded dragons had died. "We saved 2 iguanas and 10 bearded dragons and my cat," she wrote.
 
Goyette said the cause of the fire is still under investigation by the state fire marshal’s office.
 
Adams received mutual aid from the North Adams and the Cheshire fire departments. The Clarksburg Fire Department covered the Adams station; North Adams Ambulance sent its rehab trailer and Adams Ambulance had two ambulances on scene..
 
Goyette said even though the damage is extensive, he thinks the house will be saved.
 
"The damage is quite extensive. At this time, the town building inspector looked at it, and [the insurance company] and him will determine if the structure has to come down or not," Goyette said. "I do not at this time believe it will, but there a lot of cogs that work in that decision."
     

Fire Destroys Adams Apartment Building

Staff Reports
A massive blaze destroyed a building on Temple Street in Adams early Saturday.

Update: 2:45 p.m., Dec. 22:

One side of the building was occupied by the Palumbo family: Bruce and Brenda Palumbo lived in the downstairs apartment and their daughter Haley and her boyfriend, Mike, lived above them. Friends say Haley got everyone out of the house but her parents lost everything and she lost almost all of her things.

The family is also dealing with medical issues after Brenda Palumbo was taken to Baystate Medical Center in Springfield later on Saturday after reportedly suffering a heart attack.

Haley Palumbo's best friend Kyla Cabana has started a fund drive for the Palumbos.

"They are amazing nice people and would do anything for anyone," Cabana wrote in an email message.

Cabana has set a goal of $5,000; by Sunday afternoon, more than $1,700 had been raised. AP Home Decor & More in North Adams is also accepting small cash donations for the Palumbos.


ADAMS, Mass. — Firefighters from four communities fought a massive early morning blaze that destroyed an apartment building on Temple Street early Saturday morning.

"The fire had a good hold on arrival and it was a team effort by all departments in order to get this under control," said Fire Chief Paul Goyette. "But the bottom line is no firefighters got hurt."

One of the tenants was taken to the hospital for a rapid heartbeat.

Cheshire, Clarksburg and Lanesborough fire companies joined Adams firefighters in attacking the blaze that tore through all four of the apartments in the building before burning into the attic.

"Once it went right through the roof, I pulled all of firefighters out of the building," Goyette said, for safety reasons.

The chief said the structure at 18 Temple St. was built in the 1800s and, like many buildings of that era, has a balloon construction frame that helped the fire spread.

The middle of the building was gutted and roof caved in between the attic dormers.

"I called it under control at 6:28 a.m. and we maintained a fire watch until 2 p.m. this afternoon," Goyette said.

The fire started in an external storage area near the rear basement level. The state fire marshal responded to the scene; it is under investigation and the cause has not been determined, said Goyette.

It will be up to building inspection and the compliance officer to determine if the structure will have to come down. The building is owned by James and Claire Adams, according to documents on file with Registry of Deeds.

Adams Ambulance and North Adams Ambulance services both responded to the scene. North Adams Fire Department covered the Adams station.

Goyette said only one call reporting a structure fire came in and it was not known if it was a tenant who alerted emergency services. He believed there were five people living in three of the four apartments, all of whom were outside the building when the Fire Department arrived. They were being taken in by relatives and friends and some of their personal items were recovered.

"It's a terrible thing to happen just before the holidays," he said.

A fundraiser has been started for some of the residents who were forced out their homes and lost so much just days before Christmas. Donations for the Palumbo family can be made here.

     

Adams Police Seeking Information in Bar Robbery

By Tammy Daniels
iBerkshires Staff

ADAMS, Mass. — Police are asking the public for help in finding a thief who made off with a safe from Chick's Lunch last month.

The burglary occurred in the early morning hours of Saturday, March 23, after the Columbia Street bar had closed. Owner Dennis Knapp discovered the break-in at about 10 a.m. when he went to open up.

Video from security cameras show the thief coming from the back of the building, around into the kitchen area and behind the horseshoe bar. He is wearing a two-tone jacket, lighter on top, and a baseball cap pulled down over his eyes, and is carrying some type of strapped bag. He looks away and down from the cameras — located at three spots around the bar — the entire time.

He enters the screen at about 1:13 a.m. and leaves about a minute later, hauling the small safe with the belts. He also appears to open some of the cooler doors as he moves around the bar.

Police didn't want to give out too much information during the investigation but confirmed there was cash in the safe. They released the video to see if anyone could aid in identifying the suspect.

"We're hoping someone might recognize the jacket or the way he walks," said Officer Keith Erdeski.

Anyone with information is asked to contact Erdeski at 413-743-1212.  
 

     

Adams Alerts Respond to Early Morning Fire

ADAMS, Mass. — An early morning blaze damaged a home on Old Columbia Street on Sunday morning.

According to a release from the Fire Department, Richard R. Speed was awakened by smoke in his 399 Old Columbia St. home and called 911 at 3:28 a.m. to report a possible chimney fire.

Responding crews from the Adams Alert Hose Company found smoke showing from the gable vents of the attic and an active fire in the wall and ceiling adjacent to a woodstove chimney.

Firefighters were able to knock down the fire and damage was contained to the first-floor wall and ceiling. All units were clear of the scene by 6:09 a.m. Assistant Chief Edward Capeless stated that there were no injuries at the scene and the home is habitable.

The Cheshire Volunteer Fire Department responded via mutual aid to cover the Adams station for the duration of the call.

     
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