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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.

     

Local Animal Advocate Offers Reward in Adams Cat Case

Staff Reports
iBerkshires

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Allen Harris, president of Berkshire Money Management, is offering a $5,000 reward for information that leads to the arrest and conviction of the individual or individuals responsible for the recent cruel and sadistic treatment of a cat in the vicinity of Howland Avenue in Adams.

The young cat, named Cleo, was found left to die in a makeshift setup to hang the animal. Luckily, a passerby heard the choking cat, called 911, and saved its life.

"This is a heinous crime. I recognize that without some additional incentive the perpetrator or perpetrators may not be brought to justice," said Harris in a statement. "I implore anyone who knows something, anything, that may be helpful to law enforcement to do the right thing and report it."

Those with any information about the crime should call Adams Police at 413-743-1212.

Harris said he was shocked and appalled reading the details of the despicable acts. Such cruel behavior should not be tolerated, whether the victim is a cat, dog or any other living creature.

Harris and his wife, Stacey Carver, have been longtime supporters of vulnerable animals in the community. They have dedicated time and resources to several causes including Berkshire Animal DREAMS, New England Basset Hound Rescue, Eleanor Sonsini Animal Shelter and others. Carver is a board member for Animal DREAMS and New England Basset Hound Rescue Inc. and Harris is a member of the city of Pittsfield Animal Control Board.

Cleo has recovered from her trauma but is still uneasy around humans. She is seeking a kind and loving home. Find out more about her here.  A benefit to offset the costs of Cleo's care is being held by Northern Berkshire Cat Rescue on Feb. 24.

     

Adams-Cheshire Administrator Faces Drug Charge

Staff Reports
iBerkshires

CHESHIRE, Mass. — A police investigation led to the arrest on Thursday morning of an employee of the Adams-Cheshire Regional School District.

Supervisor of Special Services Kurt M. Garivaltis, 45, is being charged with possession of a Class B substance, Percocet. He is to be arraigned on Wednesday, Jan. 30, in Northern Berkshire District Court.

Superintendent Kristen Gordon confirmed on Friday that an employee was arrested after an ongoing investigation led authorities to do a car search in the school's parking lot and a search of the employee's office at about 7:45 a.m. on Thursday.

"At about 9 a.m., the authorities informed me they were going to make an arrest at that time and we put the school in a soft lockdown," said Gordon, who estimated the lockdown lasted about 11 minutes and was done to shield the children from seeing someone they knew in handcuffs.

She said at no time was anyone in any danger and the investigation had nothing to do with firearms or anything related to that.

"The authorities were extremely respectful of the fact this was an elementary school," she said, adding that the individual "is not working at the moment."

The arrest was made by the Berkshire State Police Detective Unit after executing a search warrant. According to a report filed in court by Trooper Daren W. Snyder, detectives discovered Percocet during the search "for which [Garivaltis] did not have a prescription."

     

Adams Woman Convicted of Credit Union Embezzlement

Staff Reports
iBerkshires

BOSTON — An Adams woman and former credit union employee was convicted on Jan. 17 of embezzling nearly $160,000 and making false entries into the books of the credit union.

Patricia Piscioneri, 67, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Michael A. Ponsor to a 30-count indictment charging her with embezzlement of funds by a credit union employee and false entries.

She faces up to 30 years in prison to be followed by five years of supervised release and a $1 million fine.

While employed as the manager of the former Adams Municipal Employees Federal Credit Union (AMEFCU) between 2001 and 2005, Piscioneri embezzled credit union funds by creating fraudulent loan accounts in the names of credit union members and depositing the proceeds of these fraudulent loans into her own account(s), her husband's account(s), or other family members' account(s), or used the proceeds to pay off previously obtained fraudulent loans.

In an attempt to avoid detection, Piscioneri created fraudulent loan documentation, such as loan applications and promissory notes, and forged signatures on the fraudulent loan documentation. Additionally, Piscioneri created false entries in the AMEFCU accounting system and advanced the payment due dates of the fraudulent loans.

Sentencing is scheduled for April 25, 2013.

U.S. Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz and Richard DesLauriers, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation Boston Field Division, made the announcement. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Michelle L. Dineen Jerrett of Ortiz's Health Care Fraud Unit.

     

Early Morning Fire Destroys Adams Home

By Andy McKeever
iBerkshires Staff

No one was home when the fire broke out.

ADAMS, Mass. — Firefighters knocked down an early morning structure fire Friday that destroyed a home; no one was injured.

The cause of the fire is still under investigation.

Fire Chief Paul Goyette said later Friday afternoon that the cause was believed to be a faulty light switch.

"The point of origin was at the top of the stairs in the center of the building," said Goyette. "It was a malfunction of a light circut due to, mostly likely, the grounding of the circuit."

The electrical fire had been smoldering for some time before the department was alerted to the by-then fully involved structure fire at 18 Brown St. at 5:30 a.m.

The single-family home is owned by Robert Wadsworth, who was at work at the time.

The house to the east on the residential street had some buckling of its siding because of the heat but other than that no other structures were damaged. "Really, we were fortunate there was not a large wind," said Goyette. "We did get a break in the weather.

The Brown Street house in a total loss and will have to be torn down, he said. The owner has a place to stay for now.

According to Fire Chief Paul Goyette, the department received a call of a well-involved structure fire on Brown Street at about 5:30 a.m.

The homeowner was not home at the time, Goyette said, and no firefighters were injured during the following two hours of fighting the blaze in the frigid temperatures.

Goyette said the department found heavy smoke upon arriving on the scene and prepared to mount an interior attack but just before entering the front door, the roof ignited and firefighters switched to the defensive.

"We were at the front door ready to go but the roof self-ventilated and I'm not going to risk anybody's life for a house," Goyette said, and later added that "it had a good start on us. It was smoldering in the attic until it had enough oxygen to break out."

Police had already identified and contacted the owner, who appears to be the sole occupant and was at work. North Adams Fire Department assisted in laying a hose across Howland Avenue and police closed the main throughway for a brief period of time.

"We have limited water supply down here," Goyette said.

Goyette said there was a hydrant, which worked fine, and the cold weather had "no effect whatsoever" on the department's ability to effectively fight it.

By 8 a.m., firefighters were packing up supplies but some will remain on scene to look for hot spots. The cause of the blaze is still under investigation.

Adams and North Adams ambulance services provided rehab service on the scene and the Cheshire Fire Department covered Adams' station.

Updated 4:50 p.m. with cause an further information from fire chief.

     
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