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Silver Lake Fatality Identified as Pittsfield Man

The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner has confirmed the identity of the deceased man emergency personnel recovered from Silver Lake as Stephen Dus, 55, of Pittsfield.
 
The Pittsfield Police Department is investigating the circumstances surrounding the death and anyone with information regarding the incident is asked to call 413-448-9700.
 
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Original post 9:04 a.m., June 23, 2020: PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The body of a swimmer was recovered late Monday night from Silver Lake after a nearly six-hour search that involved numerous local and state agencies.
 
Police and firefighters initially responded to Silver Lake for a water rescue at about 2:45 p.m. Two young fishermen who had been fishing off an area near where Silver Lake Boulevard meets Fourth Street had heard a swimmer in distress. The swimmer was described as an older man in his 50s or 60s.
 
The swimmer had just gone past the youths when he disappeared around the corner from their fishing spot. They then heard the swimmer yelling for help, they told first responders. They ran around the immediate area but couldn't find the swimmer and called 911.
 
The initial response consisted of Engine 3 (with Rescue 2 and Marine 1), Engine 6, Engine 5, Truck 2, and Car 2. Pittsfield Fire immediately put three rescue swimmers and watercraft Marine 1 (consisting of three more rescuers) in the water at the vicinity where the boys heard the calls for help. 
 
The incident was expanded with the following agencies responding and assisting throughout the duration:
  • Pittsfield Police Department
  • Action Ambulance
  • Berkshire County sheriff’s department and its dive team
  • Stockbridge Fire Department
  • Lanesborough Fire Department
  • Hinsdale Fire Department
  • State Department of Fire Services
  • State Environmental Police
  • State Police Dive Team
The Pittsfield Fire Department thanked all these agencies for their response and assistance throughout this incident as well as Berkshire Eagle photographer Ben Garver and off-duty firefighter Gabe Prendergast for use of their drones in aiding the search efforts.
 
Ultimately the search and rescue mission shifted to a recovery operation. The swimmer was discovered
deceased and removed from the water around 9. The incident was turned over to Pittsfield Police Department. 
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Pittsfield Jogger Struck by SUV, Taken to Baystate

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — A jogger was taken to Baystate Medical Center in Springfield on Thursday after been struck by a sport utility vehicle. 
 
Police say Lawrence Towne, 58, of Pittsfield was running south on Valentine Road when he was struck by a northbound Honda CRV operated by Kayla Karlson, also of Pittsfield. 
 
Karlson was not injured but police say Towne was taken first to Berkshire Medical Center and then to Baystate because of the serious nature of the injuries he sustained. 
 
The incident occurred at about 11:51 a.m. on Thursday in the 800 block of Valentine Road. Police, fire and County Ambulance responded to the scene. 
 
The accident remains under investigation by the Traffic Unit. Anyone who witnessed the accident or the actions of the Honda prior to the accident is asked to contact Officer David Hallas at 1-448-9700, Ext. 560. 
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Two Area Residents Being Charged in Alleged Fraud Ring

By Tammy Daniels
iBerkshires Staff

District Attorney Andrea Harrington announces the arrest of two people in a multistate fraud ring.

Update: Law enforcement in Albany, N.Y., arrested Parth "Peter" Chaudhari, 23, of Adams on Wednesday afternoon without incident. Albany officials are holding Chaudhari without the right to bail on a charge of fugitive from justice, based on a warrant issued in Massachusetts for charges associated with a fraud investigation.

The State Police Detective Unit assigned to the Berkshire District attorney's office and the Adams Police Department filed for an arrest warrant for Chaudhari on Wednesday.
 
He is alleged to be involved in a fraud ring with Ajaykumar Chaudhari and Jitendra Chaudhari, both arrested earlier this week, that scammed people across multiple states out of $300,000.

He will be arraigned in Northern Berkshire District Court on charges of larceny by false pretenses over $1,200, larceny from a person over the age of 65, and conspiracy following rendition proceedings. He and his two alleged accomplices are being held on $100,000 bail and had to surrender their passports.

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PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Two area residents are being charged in a multistate phone fraud ring that scammed victims out of upwards of $300,000.

Ajaykumar Chaudhari, 24, of Pownal, Vt., and Jitendra Chaudhari, 27, of Wiliamstown are expected to be arraigned on Wednesday in Northern Berkshire District Court in North Adams.
 
Police say they have not confirmed the suspects' relationship, if any. 
 
Their arrests are the result of a three-month investigation that included local police departments, the sheriff's office, and State Police assigned to the Berkshire district attorney's office.
 
Law enforcement executed search warrants at three locations in the Northern Berkshires on Monday and arrested two individuals as part of a three-month investigation into a nationwide organized fraud scheme.
 
"In March, police in other jurisdictions alerted the Adams Police Department that individuals in their own communities reported being scammed and sending thousands of dollars in cash to addresses in Adams," said District Attorney Andrea Harrington at a press conference on Tuesday afternoon. "In total, 27 search warrants were executed over the duration of each investigation, including two businesses, one residence and multiple motor vehicles."
 
Police seized $50,000 during search warrants executed on Monday. Some of the estimated $300,000 scammed has been recovered and returned to the victims and some held for evidence. 
 
The suspects are facing charges of larceny by false pretenses over $1,200, larceny from a person over the age of 65 and conspiracy. More charges may be likely.
 
Law enforcement declined at this point to provide further information on what the scams entailed but did say the victims ranged in age. 
 
"We're still going through extensive amounts of information that was recovered during the course of the search warrant," said Harrington. "So we'll have a better idea of that in the near future."
 
The case is still under active investigation with other law enforcement agencies and jurisdictions and there may be additional arrests nationwide.
 
"Last year, the Federal Trade Commission reported that people lost $1.9. billion through various scams and imposter scams," Harrington said. "These types of scams involve caller attempts to create urgency distress and trigger an emotional response."
 
Her office offered the following tips: 
  • Do not engage with callers who try to pressure you into making an immediate decision or request secrecy
  • Do not provide any personal information if you did not initiate the contact. 
  • Be wary of anyone who asked you to send cash wire funds, send cash or purchase prepaid cards. 
  • Consult with a loved one or the police department if you are unsure of anything.
  • Screen your phone calls, do not answer the phone if you do not recognize the number, add your number to the do not call lest
  • Monitor your financial records closely. 
Harrington urged anyone who thinks they have been scammed to contact local police or her office. 
 
"If you are scammed, do not be critical of yourself. Anyone can be," she said. "And many scams go unreported, because the victim is too ashamed."
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Pittsfield Police Make Arrest in Friday Shooting

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — A city man was arrested Friday afternoon after a shooting just after noontime that wounded him and another man. 
 
Dane Kessler, 27, was arrested shortly after police responded to a Shot Spotter activation in the area of Francis Avenue and discovered evidence of a shooting along and recovered a loaded firearm.
 
Witnesses in the area had also contacted police. Police say preliminary investigation showed that at least two parties were most likely firing at one another. 
 
While processing the scene, investigating officers said they learned that a 26-year-old Pittsfield man had arrived at Berkshire Medical Center with gunshot wounds. Officers then located Kessler and placed him under arrest for his involvement in the shooting. At that time, Kessler indicated that he had been shot in the leg, and officers transported him to BMC for treatment. 
 
The wounds to Kessler and the other man are not believed to be life threatening.
 
Kessler is charged with carrying a firearm without a license, discharging a firearm within 500 feet of a dwelling, and assault with a dangerous weapon (firearm). 
 
The investigation is ongoing and police are asking that anyone who wishes to provide information contact Detective Bassett at 413-448-9700 x529. Information can also be provided anonymously via the Detective Bureau Tip Line at 413-448-9706, or by texting PITTIP and your message to TIP411 (847411).
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No One Injured in Williamstown Barn Fire

By Stephen Dravis
iBerkshires Staff

Fire companies from six towns responded to the fire in South Williamstown.
WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — No injuries were reported Thursday in a fire that destroyed a barn at 150 Torrey Woods Road.
 
The Williamstown Fire Department received a call from the residents of the home at 9:34 a.m. and had the blaze under control with the assistance of neighboring fire companies by 10:30, Assistant Chief Robert Briggs said.
 
"All the animals were out," Briggs said as work continued to extinguish hot spots in the smoldering remains of the structure. "The horses were out. The dog got out. The homeowner was in the barn when it happened.
 
"It was an accidental fire, so we're good with how it started and all that. We're just trying to clean it up."
 
The biggest issue in late morning was two 100-gallon propane tanks that were stored in the barn.
 
"What happens with a propane tank, when it's exposed to extreme heat is the vapor inside of it expands," Briggs said. "There are safety release valves built into propane tanks that will let the vapor go at a controlled rate compared to an explosion. An explosion, we'd have a big problem with a lot of propane at the same time."
 
Briggs said the propane company that services the tanks was en route to help firefighters safely remove them from the site. In the meantime, the firefighters continued to hose down the tanks to keep them cool.
 
After arriving on the second truck at the scene, Briggs said he was less than 1,000 feet from the blaze setting up a water draw from a nearby brook when the venting from the propane tanks began.
 
"That happened, and I knew what it was right away because I've heard it at other fires," he said.
 
The home's proximity to Hemlock Brook was a blessing.
 
"We're fortunate in that we were less than 1,000 feet from a really good water source that we trained on," Briggs said. "We had water on this fire as quick as we got here, and we had continuous water.
 
"When the fire is 90 percent involved when you get here, there's no stopping it. There's no turning it around. You just make sure that people got out safely and none of our people get hurt. We're doing a very good job with Northern Berkshire EMS here of rehab, making sure our people don't overdo it."
 
Fire companies from New Ashford, Lanesborough, Hancock, Clarksburg and Pownal, Vt., responded to the blaze.
 
"We really appreciate the support from our neighboring communities," Briggs said. "Every community sent good crews. We're happy for that. And that's what we have to do now because we're all so short-handed.
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