Thursday, April 21, 2011

Cover-up: The Berkshire Eagle's CEO "Barred..Reporting" on Stracuzzi Sex Cases!

'Awful Details'

by G.M.Heller
Published: Thursday, April 21, 2011 11:30PM

"The publisher barred us from reporting the awful details in the CEO story" writes Conor M. Berry, former senior crime reporter for The Berkshire Eagle, explaining how The Eagle's publisher and CEO, Andrew Mick, directly interceded to limit not only the scope of Mr. Berry's reportage but also exactly which details were to be given to the public (and, more importantly, which were not) regarding two pedophilia cases involving Angelo Stracuzzi, one of Berkshire County's then most powerful civic, political, and business figures.

Mr. Stracuzzi was also CEO of a bank the advertising dollars from which were (then and now) largely responsible for keeping
The Eagle afloat.

Andrew Mick, Publisher and CEO, The Berkshire Eagle

The following is Mr. Berry's revealing discussion (posted to PlanetValenti) about what transpired at
The Eagle when he became aware of the original criminal charges filed against Mr. Stracuzzi by police in Biddeford, Maine, which allegations included multiple counts of 'Patronizing Prostitution of a Minor' involving boys whose ages at the time were approximately 15 and 13 years-old:

From: Conor Berry
April 21, 2011 at 12:13 pm

"Mr. Heller,

"You win: So, I’m feeling some pressure, as a reporter, to peel the onion further, especially since the “citizen journalists” of the online world are mentioning the awful, tawdry details of the Greylock CEO case and I haven’t written word one — though I did, in a rather delphic way, allude to some bizarre sets of circumstances.

Conor M. Berry, former senior crime reporter for The Berkshire Eagle, now with The Republican in Springfield, Mass.

"Didn’t the CEO’s mother warn him against picking up hitchhikers?!

"I was originally told, point blank, by two well-placed law enforcement sources that the underlying charges, the ones The Eagle avoided covering initially, stemmed from allegations that the CEO in question solicited sex from a group of boys or pre-teens up in Biddeford, ME.

"At that point, I had no idea the allegations stemmed from two separate incidents spread over two evenings. I actually learned that from you, Mr. Heller. My source said, and I quote: “He offered money to some boys for a [blank].”

"Once I learned of the disposition of the case from Maine law enforcement officials, I was disturbed by the underlying charges — the ones that were dismissed by the state of Maine.

"I was fully prepared to report on these original, more disturbing charges, but my editor told me to hang tight until he ran it by the publisher (understandably, my editor didn’t want another Massimiano story on his hands, and frankly I didn’t want to be maligned in another full-page color ad in my own paper! Incidentally, what kind of thought goes through a publisher’s head when he accepts $20,000+ for an ad mocking his paper, his editor and, arguably, the only reporter at his paper who was asking any intelligent questions?).

Angelo C. Stracuzzi, former president and CEO, Greylock Federal Credit Union

"Hold on, Heller, here it comes: The publisher barred us from reporting the awful details in the CEO story.

"I was told by my editor that, according to the publisher, if the bank CEO had incurred more recent charges, whether they be in Maine, Connecticut or Massachusetts, for that matter, we could proceed. But we were NOT to focus on charges that were, by then, already a half-dozen years old. Particularly charges that weren’t ultimately pursued by the state of Maine, but rather dismissed by the state of Maine.

"I’ve alluded to all of this before, Mr. Heller, but you apparently weren’t satisfied with my allusions.

"Not for nothing, but this sort of back-and-forth discussion is nothing new in the world of newspapers, but rather something that boils down to “news judgment.” I’m sure you’ll have a field day with that phrase, but every paper in America, depending on its trajectory and mission, has its own sense of news judgment. Some papers are more to the left, others more to the right.

"For a small, regional daily such as The Eagle, there is a pronounced sensitivity to the “names in the news,” the “power structure,” or, as you fellows frequently refer to them, the “GOBs.”

"During my 3 1/2-year tenure at The Eagle, I was called into my editor’s office several times so he could give me “heads-up” about the publisher hearing such and such about me … that the publisher had heard that I was asking this guy about this matter, and that gal about that matter, etc., etc.

"It wore on me, frankly, and I did feel that it inhibited me from doing my job as a reporter, which is to dig and ask questions, regardless of how unsavory the issue at hand is, or regardless of how powerful (or delusional?) the subject of the questions may be.

"Very disheartening, indeed.

"And I can honestly report that this was the first time, in my relatively long journalism career, that I ever felt the long arm of the publisher’s office sticking itself into places it had no right to be stuck. Pardon whatever unsavory imagery that phrase may conjure …

"I won’t detail other cases of publisher intrusion, but I often found myself in a defensive posture, defending myself against crimes, rumors and innuendo that simply weren’t true. In a word, I was disgusted, and my frustration was well known in the newsroom.

"That aside, I can’t say enough good things about my managing editor, a native son of the county, who never shied away from hard news or news that may have rocked the boat. He was my rabbi, and I’ll always respect him for that.

"On a final note, when an editor picked up a proof of the full-page ad (the one in which Massimiano, that powerful little man, maligns me as a reporter and threatens to sue me) and brought it into the executive editor’s office so we could digest its contents, the publisher very angrily stormed into the executive editor’s office and chastised we goofy news guys for examining the ad, which was promptly taken away from us. Again, welcome to bizarro world.


"PS — I apologize, Mr. Valenti, for using your forum to respond to Mr. Heller, but his own blog spots don’t get any traffic, and, for better or worse, he seems to have found a new home on PlanetValenti. You should charge him rent, Dan!"

Conor M. Berry is no longer writing for The Berkshire Eagle; he now reports for The Republican in neighboring Springfield, Massachusetts.

From Mr. Berry's Web page at The Republican:
About Me: As a longtime newspaper reporter, I've covered everything from crime and politics to offshore whale entanglements and dairy farming. Now it's time to embrace real-time reporting, so please drop me a dime -- anytime -- at or (413) 788-1276.

Write to G.M. Heller at

Other articles of interest in this series:
>When Will The Publisher Stop Covering For The Banker? -- Just what does Greylock's disgraced ex-CEO have on The Berkshire Eagle's Andrew Mick? -- What else is The Berkshire Eagle failing to report?, Saturday, June 19, 2010
>State of Maine v. Angelo Stracuzzi -- What The Berkshire Eagle Fails to Report, Thursday June 03, 2010

Labels: , , , , , ,

Sunday, April 10, 2011

N.A. Mayor's Wife Given Preferential Treatment by N.A. Cops in Shoplifting Case?

by G.M. Heller
Published: Sunday, April 10, 2011 03:00PM

Liberal Democrat Mayor Richard Alcombright and his wife Michelle Alcombright at a November, 2009 campaign rally for Mass. Attorney General Martha Coakley. Photo Credit:

Michelle M. Alcombright in a March 29, 2011 mug shot after her arrest for shoplifting in Ruskin, Florida.

Hillsborough County, Florida -- Local police report that a woman named Michelle M. Alcombright was arrested March 29 at 7 o'clock in the evening at a store on Sun City Center Blvd in Ruskin, Florida. A WalMart Supercenter is located at that address.

The woman was charged with "Retail Theft $300 or more". She was booked, photographed, and fingerprinted.

Last summer, it was alleged (via anonymous sources) that one Michelle M. Alcombright was caught shoplifting at WalMart on Curran Highway in North Adams.

Michelle Alcombright of North Adams is the wife of Richard Alcombright, Liberal Democrat Mayor of North Adams, who announced April 8th he will be seeking a second term.

The Michelle Alcombright arrested in Florida not only shares the same name but also is of the same age as the Mayor's wife in North Adams.

The North Adams WalMart case magically disappeared. No charges were filed and no one in authority would speak about the matter: not the store's manager, nor the store's employees, nor officials in the North Adams Police Department.

The mug shot of the Florida woman is near identical to a recent photo of Mayor Alcombright's wife (see photos above).

If the lady caught shoplifting in Florida twelve days ago is the same woman alleged to have been caught last summer in North Adams, then why was that North Adams shoplifter accorded special treatment by North Adams Police instead of being treated like the lady in Florida -- as a shoplifter?

Postscript: Ms. Alcombright was arrested around 7PM on Tuesday 3/29, but, according to the police file, was not released til the following day after 5PM, a total of more than 22 hours in police custody. Where was hubby, and why did it take so long to bail out North Adams' First Lady? <<<<<
Write to G.M. Heller at
From the Web site of the Sheriff of Hillsborough County, Florida:

Hillsborough County
David Gee, Sheriff
Tampa, FL
Important Notice:The data on this site provides only arrest and booking information and should not be relied upon to determine an individual's actual criminal record. This data may not reflect charging decisions made by the State Attorney's Office or the outcome of criminal trials. An acquittal or dismissal of a criminal charge does not necessarily negate the validity of an arrest. To obtain the final disposition of any criminal charges, contact the Clerk of the Circuit Court.

This report includes:AliasesRelease DataCharges

DOB: 10/21/1957
Booking #: 11015527
Arrest Date: 03/29/2011
Race: W
Sex: F
Ethnicity: N

More Information:


Personal Information

Last Name First Name Middle Name Suffix Booking No.





Eyes Hair Build Current Age Height Weight SOID SOID Name









Race Sex Ethn POB DOB Arrest Age SSN









Street Address City State Zip

12315 674 HW





Aliases Date OF Birth Social Security Number










Arrest Information

Arrest Agency Arrest Date Arrest Time Book Date Book Time






Arrest Location Jurisdiction



Release Information

Release Data


Additional Information

OBTS Caution Ind. Caution Remarks


Attorney Address Phone


Next of Kin Address Relationship




Employer Occupation Address


No. Charge Description Class Court DISP Bond BP Fine Custody Days Charge Count Charge Type











Report # CT-Case # Date Agency OBTS Number Charge Code CRA Number









Information provided should not be relied upon for any type of legal action.

Sheriff's Operations Center
  • 2008 E. 8th Ave

  • Tampa, FL 33605

  • (813) 247-8000

Labels: , , , ,

Saturday, April 02, 2011

Police Union Prez' Emailed 'Threat' May Violate Fed Laws

Allege: Pittsfield Police Conduct Records Search on Journalist Without 'Probable Cause'

by G.M. Heller
Published: April 2, 2011 06:30AM

Pittsfield, Massachusetts -- A top union official in the local that represents the City of Pittsfield's police officers and police administrative personnel recently sent an email to union 'rank and file' containing what could be construed as a warning and threat of retaliation if any member were found passing along embarrassing departmental information to journalists investigating the scandal-plagued police department.

This comes in the midst of an investigation by a multi-agency federal task force looking into alleged widespread use in Pittsfield of anabolic steroids, the illegal doping drug favored by body-builders.

A probe, acknowledged to be "ongoing" by a U.S. Postal Inspection Service information officer in Boston (with agents of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration allegedly participating), has resulted in at least one Pittsfield Police Department detective and one Massachusetts State Police trooper being temporarily re-assigned.

Marc Maddalena, president of Local 447 of the International Brotherhood of Police Officers (an affiliate of the Service Employees International Union), which local also calls itself the Pittsfield Police Patrolman’s Union, acknowledges in an online comment posted April 1st to sending the recent email message "to my fellow officers and civilian staff".

Officer Maddalena further admits in his comment that in fact he "did ask them to stop talking to people like Mr. Valenti" (the reference to 'people like Mr. Valenti' apparently referring to anyone engaged in investigative journalism).

But, claims union president Maddalena, "not becaue their (sic) is a cover up going on, but simply because whoever is providing this information is not someone partaking in the investigation and thus is spewing information without all of the facts causing more harm than good and distrust within the comunity (sic) needlessly."

He goes on, "When the investigation is complete the facts will be brought forward and people can develop their opinions then. I am disappointed in the person providing incomplete information as I believe anyone would be. That is all."

Local journalist Dan Valenti, on his Web site PlanetValenti, claims to have obtained a copy of the Maddalena email, and describes the document, saying "It basically warns members to shut the heck up and don’t speak to Valenti. You get caught speaking to Valenti, you’re busted."

Mr. Valenti went on to explain, "We’re exaggerating our paraphrase here for effect. There were members who did not appreciate getting scolded."

Those union rank and file to whom Mr. Valenti refers apparently have good reason not to appreciate 'getting scolded'.

That's because the content of union president Maddalena's admitted email communication to union members, especially if it contains the warning and implicit threat Mr. Valenti claims, likely violates sections of not less than three separate federal statutes.

The specific laws applicable to a union official making specific or implied threats to rank and file in order to intimidate individual members either from exercising their right of free speech, and/or right of association, and/or from going public with information of suspected governmental wrongdoing, include the 'Wagner Act' aka 'National Labor Relations Act', the 'Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act of 1959', and of more recent vintage, the 'Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act of 2007'.

Dan Valenti, Publisher,

What's more, Officer Maddalena's apparent disregard for federal statutes is not limited just to ignoring the laws governing labor relations and whistleblowers.

Officer Maddalena, who serves as a uniformed officer in PPD's Patrol Division, also appears to have difficulty complying with Constitutional guarantees set forth in the Bill of Rights.

It was Officer Maddalena himself, in a comment the union president posted March 31st onto PlanetValenti, who reminded Mr. Valenti that indeed he should remember just who Officer Maddalena is.

That's because Officer Maddalena says he once stopped Mr. Valenti in downtown Pittsfield for what appears now to have been a minor traffic violation, so minor in fact that, according to Mr. Valenti, no ticket was ever issued!

Here is Officer Maddalena's description of that first encounter with Mr. Valenti, followed by Mr. Valenti's own recollection:
Officer Maddalena: "Mr. Valenti, I am an officer with the PD and the union president. You know who I am because I have stopped you for a motor vehicle infraction before on North St.".
Dan Valenti: "As to the matter of 'You know who I am because I have stopped you for a motor vehicle infraction before on North St.', officer Maddalena has the advantage. The Planet doesn’t know who he is because of this. We couldn’t pick him out of police lineup. Here are the facts, which we have no problem sharing. The Planet was stopped (guessing six years ago) by a patrolman in a squad car as we traveled east on Linden Street taking a left to go north on North Street. We assume that is officer Maddalena’s reference, since we have never been stopped downtown otherwise. The Planet is one of the world’s safest drivers, you see. Ask Mrs. Planet. The patrolman stopped us and said we went through a red light. We didn’t. The light was green, turned yellow in the middle of our turn, and red by the time we got safely onto North Street. After we discussed his version versus mine, a most professional and cordial conversation, he decided not to issue a ticket. In other words, he agreed we were right — no violation. Glad to clarify. We remember the officer for his professionalism and politeness."

Now does Officer Maddalena seriously expect the public, reading his own words on PlanetValenti, to swallow the line that he remembers a name, face, and uneventful traffic stop from more than half a decade earlier involving a greying middle-aged driver to whom he did not issue a citation?

Or is it more likely that Officer Maddalena, having heard of, or read, the various insider revelations pouring forth lately from Mr. Valenti's computer keyboard onto the Planet Valenti web site relating unsavory goings-on within the Pittsfield Police Department, simply decided either on his own or with the aid of others in the department -- with no probable cause whatsoever to believe that Mr. Valenti had engaged in any sort of criminal act -- to do a little research, detective work, to scope out just who is this fellow Dan Valenti?

It would appear that without probable cause, and in direct violation of Mr. Valenti's Fourth Amendment right against illegal search and seizure, Officer Maddalena ran Mr. Valenti's name through the police department's computer database in order to see just what could be discovered about Mr. Valenti and his sources of information.

What Officer Maddalena apparently found was information about one lone traffic stop sometime about six years ago for which no ticket issued. <<<<<

The following are excerpted comments posted to PlanetValenti on the thread dated March 31st:

Marc Maddalena
March 31, 2011 at 5:48 pm

Mr. Valenti,

I am an officer with the PD and the union president. You know who I am because I have stopped you for a motor vehicle infraction before on North St. I would like you and everyone to know that we support both officers Mchugh and Ofc Kirchner fully. Both are highly respected officers within the department as a result of their work ethic and commitment to their fellow officers and their community. Despite what many, including you, may think these officers have provided a great service to this city over the years that has gone unnoticed as it does for all our officers except amongst each other. If only this city had an idea of what really takes place out there. The only source of information, the Eagle, barely scratches the surface of the incidents this department responds to. Over 40,000 calls for service a year and over 1400 arrests.

In regards to our Chief Michael Wynn, this union is also in full support of him and his ability to run this department. We have complete confidence in our chief and his ability to CONTINUE to take our department in a positive direction as he has done since taking over. Again, all going unnoticed since it does not sell papers or is not “Sexy” enough for your blog.

This department is made up of many incredible men and women who start their work days by putting on a bullett (sic) proof vest and no matter what you or anyone else says or may think of any of us, if you ever have to dial those three numbers…..We will always be there and it will go unnoticed.

Ofc Marc Maddalena
President, IBPO 447
Pittsfield Police Patrolman’s Union

Marc Maddalena
April 1, 2011 at 6:43 am


The Pittsfield Police Union, since I have been at the head, is not against drug testing by any means. As firefighter Bartini stated, it has to be negotiated into the contract and has been on the table each time the last three one year contracts that I have been apart of. However, due to the economics of the city, the negotiations have been a quick 1%, 1 year deal with the hopes of expanded negotiations and a longer term deal that very well could include a form of random drug testing. I speak for all of my officers when I tell you that we are not against random drug testing.

In regards to my email to my fellow officers and civilian staff. I did ask them to stop talking to people like Mr. Valenti not becaue (sic) their (sic) is a cover up going on, but simply because whoever is providing this information is not someone partaking in the investigation and thus is spewing information without all of the facts causing more harm than good and distrust within the comunity (sic) needlessly. When the investigation is complete the facts will be brought forward and people can develop their opinions then. I am disappointed in the person providing incomplete information as I believe anyone would be. That is all.

And thank you to all who do support your civil servants of this community. I cannot express how much we all appreciate it.

Ofc Marc Maddalena

April 1, 2011 at 12:35 pm

The Planet got word of the e-mail President Maddalena sent to the members immediately after it was sent … well almost. We were a step ahead (though we admire the move by Ofc. Maddalena in trying to head that off from the pass in his second letter to this website) and 15 steps ahead of the BB. The memo quotes from The Planet’s reportage. It basically warns members to shut the heck up and don’t speak to Valenti. You get caught speaking to Valenti, you’re busted. We’re exaggerating our paraphrase here for effect. There were members who did not appreciate getting scolded. Despite what some may want to say, The Planet isn’t manufacturing any of this. We are reflecting what’s going on in the department. We are neutral. Mirrors don’t make judgments.

April 1, 2011 at 12:48 pm

Mr. Valenti,
Is there any state or federal law that addresses union officials ‘warning’ union members not to engage in free association and/or free speech under ‘threat’ of union punishment?
In other words, is it even legal for a union official to make threats of that nature?
If possible, please publish on your Web site the email you received (redacting, of course, any information that would identify from whom you received this document.

April 1, 2011 at 1:19 pm

Don’t know.
Also, I wouldn’t classify the union head’s communication with the members as a “warning” with a “threat.” It was a request for all troops to lower the Blue Curtain by stop talking to the press.

April 1, 2011 at 2:00 pm

Understood, but you, yourself, construed that email as saying that “It basically warns members to shut the heck up and don’t speak to Valenti,” as you so succinctly stated above.
No doubt your source for the email also construed it similarly (otherwise why bother forwarding it to you).

April 1, 2011 at 2:02 pm

And you further paraphrase the email as saying,“You get caught speaking to Valenti, you’re busted.” You don’t consider that giving a warning and making a threat of retaliation in the event that warning is not heeded?

April 1, 2011 at 2:07 pm

I won’t characterize it other than what I’ve written.

April 1, 2011 at 2:48 pm

Mr. Valenti,
Please post the wording of the email so that your readers can decide for themselves whether there was a warning and/or threat implied in this email from local union officials to union members specifically not to exercise their free speech rights.
Thank you. <<<<<


Write to G.M. Heller at

Labels: , , , , , , , , , ,