Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Topic: Berkshire County's Police.

Who's good? Who's not? Who's fair? Who's nasty?
(Don't forget to name the City or Town where the officer works !)
Your Feedback:


Blogger jonathan said...

I hope that the police will work with their communities. I don't think that a good person should ever fear the police. I hope the police will be the friends of the good, law-abiding citizen.

Friday, May 13, 2005 9:03:00 AM  
Blogger Jonathan said...

Dear Berkshire Bloggers, News Media, Pols, & the People:

In case you missed it, The Boston Sunday Globe had a news article concerning Berkshire County's own set of laws on immigration. Indeed, the more one reads about Berkshire County jurisprudence, the more one enters the Kafkaesque world of The Twilight Zone! Unreal, indeed...

-Jonathan A. Melle

Troopers checking drivers' US status

Ignoring Patrick policy, groups say
By Yvonne Abraham, Globe Staff

June 3, 2007

State Police in Western Massachusetts are enforcing immigration laws despite what immigrant advocates say is Governor Deval Patrick's clear policy that immigration is not the business of local officers.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts, one of the groups that brought the situation to the attention of the Patrick administration in a recent meeting, says the practice is routine in the Berkshires.

According to the ACLU, troopers from the Lee Barracks in Berkshire County have targeted drivers who appear to be Brazilian, and have quizzed them and their passengers on their immigration status after stopping them for speeding, expired inspection stickers, and other routine offenses.

In at least two of those cases, they held drivers whom they believed to be illegal immigrants and turned them over to Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers.

Attorneys and other activists say that the troopers are disregarding a policy Patrick set in January, when he rescinded an agreement made with federal authorities by his predecessor, Mitt Romney, that would have allowed some specially trained state troopers to arrest and detain illegal immigrants without consulting federal authorities.

"We thought Governor Patrick had sent a clear message," said Anjali Waikar, an ACLU lawyer. "By rescinding the [federal agreement]," he said, "State Police ought not to be enforcing immigration laws. But from our reports, it seems like State Police are collaborating with immigration authorities."

The Patrick administration counters that police with just cause have checked identity and immigration status during routine traffic stops for years, and that is not inconsistent with the governor's position .

"Police officers interacting with federal immigration authorities is nothing new," Kurt N. Schwartz, undersecretary of law enforcement and fire services in the Patrick administration.

"It's good law enforcement, if done in a certain way."

The dispute over which powers state troopers should have when they suspect someone of being in the United States illegally is one of the most hotly contested in the wider national debate over immigration.

There was an uproar among immigrant advocates when Romney signed the agreement with Homeland Security in December deputizing state troopers to arrest and detain illegal immigrants .

Patrick rescinded the agreement before it went into effect, signaling a clear break from his predecessor on the issue of immigration.

"With all that the State Police have to do to enforce the laws of this Commonwealth, I do not believe it is either practical or wise to ask them to enforce federal laws as well," Patrick said at the time. "That is the job of the Federal government."

Immigrant advocates say they interpreted the new governor's position as a clear directive to troopers to stay out of immigration matters.

But the reality on the ground has proved far murkier than Patrick's statements indicated. In Lenox, a trooper stopped a driver for having an expired inspection sticker and then questioned him and his passengers on their immigration status. The driver was eventually arrested for carrying false identification after the trooper contacted federal immigration authorities.

The driver's family then told lawyers that the trooper who made the arrest later came to their home and told them to go back to Brazil, since their relative was being deported there.

In Richmond, a driver was pulled over for speeding and, after he produced a foreign driver's license, was arrested for driving with a fraudulent license and eventually transferred to a federal facility in Rhode Island.

Lawyers say that federal regulations prohibit state and local police officers from helping to enforce immigration laws in the absence of an explicit agreement like the one signed by Romney and rescinded by Patrick.

"This goes against the law," said Michael Wishnie, clinical professor of law at Yale University. "Congress has extensively regulated immigration law enforcement, and has detailed the circumstances in which state and local police may enforce its provisions. These cases don't fit those circumstances."

But Schwartz said it is appropriate for troopers to apprehend immigrants who appear to be here illegally in the course of normal duties, such as traffic stops.

Patrick was rejecting the idea of troopers enforcing immigration laws as one of their primary duties, not directing them to avoid doing so in the course of traffic stops, Schwartz said.

Nevertheless, Schwartz said the incidents described by the immigrants' lawyers are under investigation.

"It's very difficult to draw a bright line and say 'This is appropriate and this isn't,' " he said. "But if there is a trooper or troopers out there whose primary motivation is to enforce immigration law, then that is not appropriate, and we would take corrective action."

According to federal law, unless they are specifically authorized to do so, troopers cannot detain drivers on immigration violations unless they have cause to believe drivers are smuggling, transporting, or harboring illegal immigrants, or if a driver has already been deported after a felony conviction.

But even here, the waters muddy.

In the last few years, the Department of Homeland Security has added immigration violations to a national crime database troopers check during all traffic stops, presenting State Police with the choice of ignoring immigration violations that come up under a driver's name, or contacting Immigration and Customs Enforcement and being drawn into applying federal laws.

Wishnie and others are challenging the inclusion of immigration information in that national crime database.

Furthermore, a Justice Department memo from 2002 contradicts the regulations enacted by Congress, in addition to several of its own previous advisories on the matter, saying that state and local police can arrest and detain immigrants they suspect are here illegally.

That position has not yet been tested in court, said Wishnie.

The Justice Department position has support among those who favor stricter immigration controls.

"Federal resources cannot hope to address the immigration issue, so local enforcement is key to enforcing country's laws on illegal immigrants," said Steve Kropper, cochairman of Massachusetts Citizens for Immigration Reform. "We don't want to type illegal immigrants on appearance, that's discrimination. But if you stop somebody on a traffic infraction, you clearly should be able to check their identity, and an illegal immigrant doesn't warrant due process."

Yvonne Abraham can be reached at abraham at globe dot com

Monday, June 04, 2007 8:05:00 PM  
Blogger Jonathan said...

Common sense on troopers, immigrants


The Berkshire Eagle

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

The assertion by the American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts that state police in the Berkshires are detaining illegal immigrants in violation of a policy established by the Patrick administration highlights one of the problems that heats up the white hot immigrant issue — vague and contradictory laws. That the Patrick administration doesn't agree with the ACLU that the troopers are violating its policy emphasizes how confusing the situation is.

The ACLU says troopers from the Lee Barracks have targeted drivers who appear to be Brazilian and have asked them and their passengers about their immigration status after stopping them for routine offenses. According to The Boston Globe, two of the drivers were turned over to the Immigration and Customs Enforcement service. Shortly after his election, Governor Patrick abandoned a plan by former Governor Romney to allow specially trained troopers to arrest and detain illegal immigrants, which, according to the ACLU, means the Lee troopers are acting outside the law.

The Patrick administration claims, however, that the officers can check immigration status as a routine matter, and it opposed the Romney effort because it would allow troopers to pull over drivers they suspected of being illegal immigrants, which would lead to ethnic profiling. Federal law says that troopers can only detain drivers on immigration violations if they believe they are harboring illegal immigrants or have been deported, but the Justice Department claims police can arrest immigrants they suspect are here illegally. Unfortunately, the Bush Justice Department can't be relied upon on matters of justice.

As long as the laws relating to troopers and illegal immigrants are murky if not contradictory, common sense must prevail. If a trooper pulls over a driver for speeding and determines upon checking his records that he may be an illegal immigrant he would be derelict in his duty if he did not contact the proper authorities. This is a far cry from pulling over drivers on the suspicion they are illegal immigrants.

Obviously, if a state policeman goes to the residence of a driver who has been arrested for being an illegal immigrant and tells his family to go back to Brazil, as the ACLU claims happened in Lenox, that is a different matter. Harassment is a crime as well.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007 4:36:00 PM  
Blogger Jonathan said...

Re: Berkshire County's The Twilight Zone law enforcement methodologies

Dear Berkshire Bloggers, News Media, Pols, & the People:

I disagree with Ms. Abraham's thesis that Massachusetts Governor Deval(-uator Laurdine) Patrick's broken promise to uphold human rights for illegal immigrants was for grandstanding purposes only. The reason for my disagreement is because I was born, raised and lived in Berkshire County for the first 28.5 years of my entire life, and I only turn 32 later this month. As Patrick Fennell and many other astute political and social observers have stated, living in the Berkshires is all about who your related to, whose ass you kiss, and whose agenda you serve. In short, the Berkshires is NOT about merit, but rather, it is about inbred, multigenerational, Twilight Zone distortions of reason to keep the insiders powerful.

Deval Patrick is certainly an OPERATOR in big business and government--slick and shiny, but underneath the facade, he is unethical and very corrupted by special interests. Given the man's many flaws, I do not believe for one minute anyone who did not come from "Dodge" would ever begin to understand it complex dynamics.

However, Andrea F. Nuciforo, Jr. -- aka Luciforo -- represents the Twilight Zone theme of Berkshire County's inner workings. Luciforo's father was a Berkshire State Senator and then a Berkshire Probate Judge. Luciforo's aunt was a Mayor of Pittsfield in the late 1980's. Luciforo tried to jail me for exercising my free speech rights during the period I defended my dad's stance for county governments. Luciforo tried to ruin my dad's career during the same time period: The Spring of 1998. As Berkshire State Senator, Luciforo went onto chair legislative committees regulating big banks and insurance companies while at the same time serving as a private Attorney for a Boston Law Firm named "Berman & Dowell" where Luciforo represented the same financial institutions he was setting public policies, laws and regulations for in the Massachusetts State Legislature from around 2001 - 2006. Moreover, Luciforo still represents these big business financial institution in 2007 while publicly serving as a Berkshire Register of Deeds, which he was annointed to after he strong-armed two women candidates out of the state election for this seat in the Spring of 2006. In 2008 or 2010, it is heavily predicted that Luciforo is going to make a run for the United States Congressional Seat by ousting John W. Olver out of the Democratic Party Primary election before Olver's seat is lost to population attrition in the 2012 Congressional Election cycle. Of course, Luciforo stands a solid chance at ousting Olver either next year and/or in 3 years from now because the big financial institutions in and around Boston will heavily finance his bid to represent their special interests on Capitol Hill.

The reason why I illustrate Luciforo's political designs is because it gives a context to the inner workings of Berkshire County's Twilight Zone styled inner workings. Only in Berkshire County would the political elite give into Luciforo's agenda, which would continue to see persecutions, undemocratic state elections, conflicts of interests, and the selling out of a snowed in local population for the special interests of Boston's financial sector corporate elites. The reason why everyone gives into Luciforo is because of his inbred, multigenerational family history of entrenched political control of a local area. To illustrate, during the 6 weeks I went around Pittsfield in the late winter of 2004 when I attempted to oppose him for Berkshire State Senator, many people told me that they did not like or respect Luciforo, but if the local political ruling class found out I was receiving their support then they would lose their respective jobs. People actually feared for their jobs if they did not give lip service to Luciforo's political agenda. That is The Twilight Zone theme of Berkshire County politics.

Deval Patrick could have never predicted Berkshire County's law enforcement methodologies were part of The Twilight Zone theme of distortions of reason. I believe Governor Patrick was blindsided by Berkshire County's own set of Kafkaesque law enforcement methodologies after his good stand for human rights protections for illegal immigrants. I still commend Governor Patrick for his stands for Human Rights and Civil Rights throughout his storied career in public service. That is not to say that I concur with his deficient public policy record as Governor thus far. There are many political issues where I dissent against the good Governor of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. BUT, it is also a FREE COUNTRY!

Jonathan A. Melle


Deval's false promise
By Yvonne Abraham, Globe Columnist | July 11, 2007

When Governor Mitt Romney struck an agreement with the Department of Homeland Security late last year that would allow state troopers to arrest illegal immigrants, it was grandstanding of the highest order, tailored to cement his bona fides with Republican presidential voters on his way out of office.

In January, on his way in, Governor Deval Patrick made a big production of scrapping the deal.

"With all that State Police have to do to enforce the laws of this Commonwealth, I do not think it is either practical or wise to ask them to enforce federal laws as well," he said at the time.

Patrick won major kudos for reversing Romney, not just from immigrant advocates but also from his own State Police superintendent, who agreed that having troopers arrest and detain illegal immigrants would erode trust.

They had a point. A carjacking victim who happens to be an illegal immigrant isn't going to rush to the nearest barracks to report the crime if she associates the State Police with federal deportation centers and flights back to Honduras.

But as Patrick has learned several times in his administration's short history, it's a lot easier to make crowd-pleasing public gestures than actually shift the gears of state government.

Tossing out Romney's agreement has not taken troopers out of the immigration equation. Illegal immigrants unlucky enough to choose the Berkshires for their travels have been stopped for routine traffic violations and then turned over to federal authorities when they could not prove they were here legally.

And the State Police are still participating in immigration raids. With Patrick's knowledge, they were part of the planning for the raid on a New Bedford leather goods factory in March that rounded up 361 workers. Federal immigration officers took the lead, but troopers escorted workers from their sewing machines to the detention center.

They were also involved in putting together last month's raid that netted 16 illegal immigrants on Nantucket.

Not that you'd know that. Because hours before the raid went down, the State Police were called off the case by their higher-ups.

Kevin Burke, Patrick's secretary of public safety, said troopers were barely involved in putting together the Nantucket operation. But Nantucket police say they were integral from the start.

"We were counting on them," said Police Chief William Pittman.

Burke said that there was already "a massive presence of [federal] agents" in Nantucket on the day of the raid and that the troopers weren't needed.

Local and State Police officers say it wasn't about overtime pay, but politics: The administration didn't want to have to answer questions about state troopers and immigration enforcement.

No kidding. If troopers had been part of that raid after the uproar over New Bedford, Patrick would have been pilloried by immigrant advocates.

"They knew we were watching very closely," said Ali Noorani, head of the Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition.

To be fair, a lot of troopers, trained to enforce laws, want to act when they suspect somebody is violating immigration rules. And federal regulations on whether troopers should get involved in immigration matters are gray enough to allow them to do so, unless the administration sets a clear policy telling them not to.

So right now, there's not a lot of difference between Romney deputizing a couple of dozen troopers to arrest people for immigration violations in the course of their normal duties and the situation that exists under Patrick, in which troopers are taking part in federal operations or turning over to the feds illegal immigrants encountered during traffic stops.

Except that Patrick's approach seems more haphazard, with troopers in every corner of the state apparently left to do their own thing.

All of which makes his January reversal look a lot like grandstanding, too.

Yvonne Abraham is a Globe columnist. She can be reached at

Thursday, July 12, 2007 2:21:00 PM  
Blogger Jonathan Melle said...

"Pair seek to sue town"
By David Pepose, Berkshire Eagle Staff, 9/1/2009

DALTON -- A Dalton husband and wife are suing the town and the state Department of Children and Families, claiming they were victims of a "witchhunt" that resulted in his arrest and her having to flee the country with their three children.

John G. Swomley, the attorney for Dalton residents Louis and Elena Piccone, filed suit on their behalf in United States District Court in Springfield last week, seeking unspecified damages for economic loss, legal fees, and emotional distress.

Piccone, a former patent lawyer for General Electric, was accused early last year of molesting his youngest child, and he was later cleared of the charges against him. His wife, a Russian immigrant, took the children from the U.S. to Russia, following the DCF's charges.

Since then, all criminal charges filed against both Piccones -- ranging from kidnapping to neglect to abuse -- have been dismissed, stemming from irregularities in the DCF investigation, including one social worker's lack of interview training, as well as her refusal to videotape her talks with the children.

According to the suit, the Department of Children and Families in January 2008 "received an uncorroborated, totem-pole hearsay report that Mr. Piccone's 3-year-old son had allegedly said something suggesting that he had been abused by Mr. Piccone. Based on that one alleged ‘statement,' DCF and the Dalton Police began a witchhunt against Mr. and Mrs. Piccone that ultimately resulted in Mrs. Piccone being forced to leave the country with her children and Mr. Piccone being thrown in jail."

The suit claims the Dalton Police searched the family's home last year without a warrant, and carried out other searches using warrants based on misrepresentations or omissions of critical facts. The suit also alleges DCF gained legal custody of the children using similar tactics.


Tuesday, September 01, 2009 10:35:00 PM  
Blogger Jonathan Melle said...


The Piccone suit names 11 defendants, including seven DCF employees, two members of the Dalton Police Department, the Town of Dalton, and a state police officer.

Swomley said they were filing constitutional violations at the federal level.

"The [DCF] behaved horribly vindictively," Swomley said. "The real reason this got as far as it went was because [Mr. Piccone] insisted on protecting his children and his family's rights."

Piccone left the Berkshires for Russia last week, and was unable to be reached for comment.

Swomley said Piccone has been unable to have his name expunged from law enforcement databases ranging from INTERPOL to the Sex Offender Registry, and that his legal battles interfered with several potentially lucrative patent deals from pharmaceutical companies.

Police Chief John W. Bartels Jr., named a defendant in the suit, said he only learned of the complaint after being contacted by The Eagle. "It's news to me," he said, declining to comment further.

The Dalton Town Clerk's office said they had not received any complaint thus far. Meanwhile, representatives from the DCF said they do not comment on pending legal proceedings.

Swomley said Bartels was named in the suit because Bartels "allowed the court to think that the mother had custody taken away by artfully wording his affidavit -- she never lost her custody. In terms of legal liability, the Town of Dalton served that one up to us on a silver platter."

Yet one noticeable omission from the complaint was the Berkshire District Attorney's Office. Swomley said that he was not targeting them because "they have qualified immunity and, in some cases, absolute immunity."

Swomley said that much of the motivation for this suit was to prove a point to the DCF, as well as the families it typically deals with. He alleged the DCF's "unholy relationship" with the District Attorney's Office helps "manufacture" wrongful cases through suggestive or agenda-driven interviews.

"[DCF] operates in the shadows, basically, in many respects dealing with people with low income and modest educations," Swomley said. "And the standard of proof in this case -- and in all of these cases -- are the lowest standards of proof in any legal proceeding."

Tuesday, September 01, 2009 10:36:00 PM  

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