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Capeless Statement on Steroid Probe

Staff Reports

DA David F. Capeless

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The articles, rumors and blogs about the investigation into the use of steroids by local law enforcement officers has prompted the district attorney to address the ongoing investigation through a statement released on Tuesday afternoon.

District Attorney David F. Capeless revealed the name of the state trooper implicated in the probe, Daniel Gale, and confirmed that Pittsfield Police Officer David Kirchner was removed as a member of the Berkshire County Drug Task Force.

Indications that the investigation was undertaken by authorities outside the county were confirmed in Capeless' statement. The district attorney says the allegations of steroid use were brought to his attention after a "local police department was contacted by a federal agency." Capeless does not state which police department or which agency (the U.S. Postal Service has told local media that there is an investigation but not into who or what).

The probe was first revealed by postings on the discussion site Topix and on a blog run by former county resident GM Heller and Daniel Valenti's PlanetValenti.com.

The Berkshire Eagle

has followed up with two articles that revealed Kirchner's involvement and that of a than unnamed state trooper from the Russell barracks in Hampden County.

Capeless said he had decided to make the following limited public statement about the investigation:

"Over the past week, the public has been exposed to rumors, in addition to hard information, regarding steroids and their sale and use here in Berkshire County. Ordinarily, it is the firm policy of my office not to confirm ongoing investigations, much less to divulge their specifics, in order to maintain the integrity and effectiveness of our investigative efforts. However, exceptions need to be made when either public safety or public confidence is being jeopardized by a lack of information.

"In this case, I have decided to make a limited public statement, divulging only that information necessary to adequately explain the circumstances, since there remains an ongoing criminal investigation.

"Several weeks ago, a local police department was contacted by a federal agency to alert them that an investigation into the importation of steroids had uncovered deliveries into their town. A joint investigation was undertaken which resulted in the seizure of steroids and the execution of a search warrant. An examination of recovered materials revealed that two law enforcement officers, Pittsfield Police Officer David Kirchner (a member of the Berkshire County Drug Task Force) and state police Sergeant Daniel Gale (then assigned to the Russell barracks in Hampden County), had apparently been the recipients of steroid deliveries. So far, no information has been uncovered which would indicate involvement in anything other than personal use of steroids by these two, or that any other officers were involved. 

"When the information about the two officers was discovered, the local investigating officer, a member of the Berkshire County Drug Task Force, notified his supervisors in the Task Force, who immediately notified me. Since Kirchner was, at the time, a member of the Task Force, it was agreed that we would seek assistance from outside the county in continuing the investigation. State police investigators normally assigned to other units in other jurisdictions were dispatched and are presently engaged in furthering that investigation. Colonel Marian McGovern, the head of the State Police, and Pittsfield Police Chief Michael Wynn were informed of the situation, and each has initiated administrative proceedings while the criminal investigation is underway. Kirchner was immediately removed from the Task Force.

"I take very seriously any allegation that a law enforcement officer has broached the public trust by engaging in criminal activity, and I take just as seriously the reputation of all of the rest of us in law enforcement who honor that trust and continue to guard the public with integrity. No arrests have been made and any decision regarding criminal charges relating to these circumstances will be made with a very clear eye towards those two principles but only upon completion of the ongoing investigation."

Tags: steroids, police, probe      

Police Inundated With Murder Rumors

Staff Reports

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — In the wake of finding two dead bodies, rumors about multiple violent attacks on women have been spreading like wildfire.

Police say they have been "inundated" with phone calls asking for information. The rumors, apparently being spread over the Internet, insinuate that there is an outbreak of violent crime and the police have requested federal assistance. That information is false and has no factual basis, police said.

"We believe these rumors are the result of speculation surrounding the recent discoveries of two bodies in the city. The first occurred in February in Canoe Meadows and the second last week in a wooded area off of West Street," Police Chief Michael Wynn said in a written statement.

"While both of those incidents are tragic, both have been investigated. There is no evidence of foul play in either case. Both were reported to the media as soon as the necessary notifications were made."

On Friday, Police discovered the body of Virginia May Brown, 49,  in a wooded area behind St. Mark School and the body of Beverly Tanner, 57, at Canoe Meadows wildlife sanctuary in late February. Tanner was initially ruled a suicide while Brown, who had been missing since January, is believed to have died from exposure. In either case, foul play was ruled out by police.

"Since there is no known crime series to investigate, there is no investigation for which to request assistance," Wynn said.

Police is asking the public to halt the spread of the rumors.

Tags: rumors, death, violent crime, body      

Pittsfield Police Find Dead Body

Andy McKeever

 PITTSFIELD, Mass - The body of 49-year-old Virginia May Brown turned up in a wooded area behind St. Mark School.

 
Brown was reported missing in January after her landlord found the door of her apartment and nobody home. She was last seen in the city on Jan. 7.
 
She was found Friday afternoon and an autopsy was performed Sunday at the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in Boston by Kimberly Springer, according to police.
 
Police do not suspect foul play and an official cause of death has not yet been determined pending the outcome of toxicology and further testing.
Tags: body, missing person      

New Marlborough Man Pleads Guilty to Mom's Murder

Staff Reports

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — A New Marlborough man pleaded guilty on Tuesday to murdering his mother three years ago.

Rodney M. Ball, 38, was given a life sentence in the murder of 55-year-old Donna Agar, to be served at the Massachusetts Correctional Facility at Cedar Junction.

Appearing before Judge John A. Agostini on Tuesday afternoon, Ball pleaded guilty to single counts of murder in the second degree and illegal possession of a firearm, for which he was given a concurrent 2 1/2- to three-year prison sentence.

Ball, a lumber yard worker, had been held without bail at the Berkshire County House of Correction since first being arraigned on Agar's murder in March 2008.

Agar was found in a pool of blood at her home on Clayton Mill River Road in Southfield on the afternoon of March 16, 2008, after state police were contacted to do a wellness check after Ball drove her minivan to confront his estranged wife. Ball arrived at the scene while police were there and they found a rifle in the vehicle.

An autopsy found Agar had died from multiple stab wounds to the neck and chest and loss of blood. Ball, then living on Clark Way, told investigators his mother had killed herself.

The investigation was conducted by members of the New Marlborough and Sheffield police departments, state police detectives assigned to the district attorney's office, troopers assigned to the Lee barracks and the Crime Scene Services Section of the state police.   

Tags: murder      

Police Identify Body Found at Canoe Meadows

Staff Reports

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The body of a woman found Wednesday, Feb. 23, in Canoe Meadows wildlife sanctuary has been identified as Beverly Tanner, 57.

Tanner, whose last known address was on North Street, had not been seen since early January. Police say she was not reported missing.

The body was reportedly found by a couple of snowshoers off Wolf Pine Trail in the 262-acre sanctuary. It was fully dressed, frozen and partially covered with snow. A backpack was next to it. The death is being investigated but Detective Capt. Patrick F. Barry told The Berkshire Eagle on last week that foul play was not suspected.

The preliminary ruling on the death is suicide, pending toxicology results, according to the district attorney's office.  An autopsy was performed on Friday in Boston by Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Henry Nields.

Anyone with information concerning Tanner's whereabouts or who may have had contact with her since early January is asked to contact the Pittsfield Police Department at 413-448-9700.

Tags: body, missing person, suicide      
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