Saturday, March 26, 2011

Fed Steroid Probe: Who's Next?

Investigation Has Many in Berkshire County on Edge

by G.M. Heller
Published: Saturday, March 26, 2011, 06:30AM

Pittsfield, Massachusetts -- The U.S. Postal Investigative Service/U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration probe into illegal Anabolic Steroid use in Pittsfield has already produced fallout, sidelining one Pittsfield Police Department officer and one Massachusetts State Police officer.

The PPD officer is David P. Kirchner of Lenox, while the MSP officer has yet to be named and is, according to The Berkshire Eagle, a "trooper, who is stationed at the Russell barracks and is believed to live in Berkshire County". (Editor's note: District Attorney David F. Capeless revealed March 29th that the name of the Massachusetts State Police trooper implicated in the federal probe is Daniel Gale.)

Who's next to be engulfed in this scandal?

Based on PPD's own March 10th, 2011 Internal Affairs report, there's at least one more PPD employee whose fate has yet to be made public.

Berkshire Eagle reporter Conor Berry reports in today's (March 26) Berkshire Eagle the following, based on PPD's Internal Affairs report:
[Brackets below indicate this writer's own edits]

"(O)fficials [presumably USPIS/DEA] met with [PPD's Internal Affairs pointman Capt. David R.] Granger on March 7 and March 8, turning over various investigatory materials, including supporting affidavits, written and audio statements and other evidence implicating Kirchner and an unidentified individual in the illegal purchase of steroids."
[Italics added by this writer for emphasis.]

Now by definition, USPIS/DEA would only be turning over to PPD's Internal Affairs unit 'investigatory materials' related to matters within the IA unit's jurisdiction -- meaning matters specifically involving PPD personnel. Therefore, there remains one PPD employee whose fate has so far not been made public.

Who is that unidentified PPD employee and when will PPD tell the public of its actions regarding this person's specific case?

Further, Capt. Granger's IA Report is dated Thursday, March 10. That's more than two weeks ago. Just when was PPD going to get around to making that IA report public (and when was The Berkshire Eagle, which initially had to be brought kicking and screaming even to report on this federal investigation, finally going to report it)?

Further, the public still is not being told the who, what, where, how and when as to the event/bust/or whatever allegedly took place in downtown Pittsfield sometime during the period March 12-19. It is that event which first caused a rash of rumors to circulate throughout the city.

Just as important, and the question keeping many in Berkshire County on edge: who else is being implicated in the Feds' steroids probe by the person known only as "[name deleted], the subject and defendant" [quoting directly from PPD's IA report]?

According to information that has come 'over the transom', that list of possible 'who else's' may include "many more PPD patrons [of a steroids dealer] than they [USPIS/DEA originally] thought but also lawyers and other prominent people ...". <<<<< --------------------------------------------------------------------

Write to
G.M. Heller at

Labels: , , , , , ,

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Crime Fighting 'Westie' On Pittsfield's Steroids Trail

Fearless pooch with whom one does not mess

by G.M. Heller
Published: Wednesday, March 23, 2011 11:30PM

Great Barrington, Massachusetts -- Murray, the well-known 'Westie' who lives on Hollenbeck Avenue in this southern Berkshire town, apparently gets around more than he lets on, at least to those who think they know him well.
'Little' Murray >
At home in Gt. Barrington

Photo Credit: Yankee Magazine

The hirsute West Highland White Terrier, known on the street and in Vegas as Murray 'Bones' (as in 'he made his') , has been pointing his pointed nose northward, into air miles away from this sleepy neighborhood in South County.

This, along with lots of investigative digging, doggy-style, has enabled the pugnacious pooch to come up with some meaty tidbits about Pittsfield's unfolding anabolic steroids scandal (all the more noteworthy because Murray says his human housemates think he's vegetarian).

Murray also labors under the treacly moniker 'Little' Murray (a name he says he detests), pasted on him by those same housemates. Says Murray, "Sanctimonious Liberals, what the hell do they know.")

Murray's most recent revelations concern the U.S. Postal Inspection Service investigation, the one no one in Pittsfield City Hall wants to speak of, and which few at the Pittsfield Police Department will even admit to knowing about.

Seems that Murray, on account of his diminutive presence, was able unobtrusively to get up close and personal whilst certain events were going down last week in Pittsfield.

As Murray puts it, "Well Pops (Murray apparently calls everyone he likes 'Pops'), it was like this. I'd caught a ride up seven and was sniffing around downtown Pittsfield when I came across what smelled like really rank piss -- ya know, really sour -- like worse than a French cat house at low tide, if you comprendo dog."

It occurred to me I should ask Murray how he came about his knowledge of this more esoteric aspect of France, but decided to let it go til another time. As for the smell, though he may not understand the specific chemical process, Murray was making reference to the airborne emissions anabolic steroids give off when metabolized by the human body and mixed with sweat.

"So I followed this rank smell up North Street, then pawed left onto Summer, ending up in front of this big place that was all lit-up, with people, and big rooms with strange machines inside. The sign way above my head had a word I got, but the other I never heard of: 'Berkshire Nautilus'.
Murray 'Bones' (as in 'he made his')
With tan, deep undercover at Berkshire Nautilus

Photo Credit: Las Vegas Sun

"Next I knew, the place was all in an uproar. Some smelly guy was being handcuffed, others questioned. I figured out pretty quick this was a bust, but over what I could not tell. All I know is that the smelly guy getting cuffed got searched up and down and front to back by some very large and thorough Pops.

"Those doing the searching pulled from Smelly one of those paper piles held together with a spiral wire thingy. From what I could see, there were pages and pages of groups of letters, and numbers beside each of these letter groups.

"From Smelly's pocket one of the Pops pulled out a round chunk of long green papers. Not sure what it was, but that Pops was counting out each green paper in front of Smelly telling him finally how many greens he'd counted. It sounded like a big number, something 'thousand'.

"There were now two Pops looking through the paper piles and they went wide-eyed telling each other 'Hey, can you believe all these f***ing names!', using a word I hear all the time when I'm home, while they pointed to specific groups of letters, shaking their heads.

"One of the Pops said, 'Isn't he that lawyer?' The other responded 'Yeah, and isn't this one a big mucky muck?' saying words I didn't quite understand. These two went back and forth page after page talking about how many groups of letters they were seeing on each page, and something about how next to each letter group Smelly had written a 'date' and an 'amount'.

"They finally called over to a third Pops to join them, that's how excited they were. These three Pops were at once shaking their heads, smirking, even laughing as they paged through all these papers containing what one Pops called 'a goddam road map', another word I hear around the house all the time.

"Then they put the whole pile of paper, carefully it seemed, along with the chunk of green papers into a large yellow paper sleeve. One Pops licked the top, folded it, wrote something on it, and then handed it to one of the other Pops.

"I'll tell ya, Pops, it was just about then that I got scared and the hairs on my back stood straight up. I coulda used a hydrant right there, but I just got the hell away instead.

"As fast as I could, I ran out the door, headed down to Center Street and cut a hard left.

"Then you'll never guess what happened next, Pops. I stopped running when I hit South Church.

"Out of breath I found myself in front of another big building, this one only half lit. No one around. Mercury vapor and compact fluorescent lighting -- really eerie.

"Still backed up from before and even worse now from all that running, I was circling for someplace to go. I found this nice spot on the sidewalk. Ahh, sweet relief!

"Just then two fellas came out the clear doors one a step behind the other and headed smack dab for where I'd just planted that big one. And let me tell ya, it was humongous, a word I got from those jiggly human movies Pops is always watching when we stay upstairs at the Albany place.

"Just as the shorter of the two was saying 'Dammit Conor, I think I left my glasses at Taylor's barn again,' the short guy went and stepped right in the middle of it.

"I don't think he even realized because he just kept on walking. Meantime, the taller guy he called Conor had been walking slightly behind, and well, he just kept coming.

"In the middle of replying, 'Clarence, do you know how to spell horse's ass?', SQUISH!, wouldn't ya know it happened again, that tall fella, well, he too landed in, ... er, in the tall grass, if you get my dog.

"Let me tell ya, Pops, I got the hell out of there too, and as fast as I could git, and caught the first ride I could find back here to South County. I've had about as much Pittsfield humans getting into real shit as I can stand for awhile. Now feed me." <<<<<


Write to G.M. Heller at

The author wishes to thank Murray's family and entire neighborhood for granting Murray the liberal leash privileges that have so obviously empowered and enabled this brave animal to fight crime, as well as to contribute to this article. We just hope others take to heart the lesson of what empowering animals can really accomplish.

Labels: , , , , , ,

Monday, March 21, 2011

Feds Investigating Illegal Steroids Use in Pittsfield

'Sting' rumored at local fitness center

by G.M. Heller
Monday, March 21, 2011, 11:30PM

Pittsfield, MA -- A federal official today confirmed a U.S. Postal Inspection Service investigation into illegal anabolic steroids use in Pittsfield in which the focus appears to be on members of a downtown Pittsfield health club/fitness center, who are alleged to have been receiving shipments via U.S. Mail of quantities of these controlled 'doping' substances that are used for bodybuilding and enhanced sports performance.

Bernadette Lundbohm, public information officer for the Boston Division of USPIS, acknowledged this afternoon the participation by Postal Inspection Service personnel in the Pittsfield investigation. "This is an ongoing investigation," Ms. Lundbohm wrote in a response to emailed questions.

An official with U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration contacted by telephone at DEA's Springfield office refused comment.

Berkshire Nautilus Fitness Center on Summer Street in Pittsfield.

A high official in the Pittsfield Police Department claimed this afternoon in a telephone call not to know anything of the USPIS investigation nor about rumors of a combined USPIS/DEA 'sting' last week at Berkshire Nautilus on Summer Street, which undercover operation is alleged to have tagged at least one PPD detective and one Massachusetts State Police trooper.

Massachusetts state law stipulates mandatory minimum prison sentences for persons convicted of any kind of offense involving controlled substances or otherwise illegal drugs within one-thousand feet of a school or daycare center.

Berkshire Nautilus
at 42 Summer Street is close by and easily within one-thousand feet of the closest childcare center, the YMCA at 292 North Street. <<<<<
Write to G.M. Heller at

24-hour Update:
Pittsfield Mayor James M. Ruberto's office has released the following statement in response to a request for comment regarding USPIS's acknowledgment of an ongoing federal investigation into anabolic steroids use in Pittsfield.

According to Tricia Farley-Bouvier, the Mayor's Public Affairs Coordinator: "This is (sic) investigation is not being conducted by the Pittsfield Police Department. If there are any personnel issues involved here, you know of course, that the mayor would not have a comment."

60-hour Update:
The Berkshire Eagle has now published (finally) its own confirmation of at least parts of the article above.

Officers disciplined after probe
By Conor Berry, Berkshire Eagle Staff
Thursday March 24, 2011

PITTSFIELD -- A probe into illegal steroids has resulted in disciplinary action against two police officers, one of whom works for the Pittsfield Police Department.

Authorities have identified the city officer as David P. Kirchner, a former plainclothes investigator with the Pittsfield Police Drug Unit who recently was suspended. The other law enforcement official is a Massachusetts State Police trooper, whom officials have declined to identify.

No criminal charges have been filed against either officer.

The trooper, who is stationed at the Russell barracks and is believed to live in Berkshire County, was placed on "restricted duty." That means he was stripped of his service weapon and cruiser and placed on "desk duty," according to David Procopio, a state police spokesman in Framingham.

Procopio declined to comment on whether the trooper might be charged with a crime.

"I can't comment on an ongoing investigation," he said. "I will confirm that we do have an internal investigation into allegations involving a trooper and performance-enhancing drugs."

Kirchner was suspended in connection with an investigation by an outside agency, but now is "back on the street as a patrol officer," Pittsfield Police Chief Michael J. Wynn said Wednesday.

Pittsfield police launched an internal affairs investigation that resulted in the veteran officer's suspension after the department "received information from an outside law enforcement agency," Wynn said, declining to identify the agency and the information it provided.

Wynn also would not comment on the nature of the allegations against Kirchner.

Richard M. Dohoney, the city's attorney, declined to provide any details about the suspension, including its length or whether Kirchner was paid during the deferment.

"I don't comment on personnel matters," the attorney said in a phone message Wednesday.

A woman who answered the door at Kirchner's Lenox home Wednesday morning said he was not home. The officer did not return a phone call seeking comment.

It remains unclear if Kirchner or the trooper might face charges in connection with the probe, which involved agents from the U.S. Postal Inspection Service and possibly other agencies. A phone call to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration to gauge that agency's involvement was not returned.

U.S. Postal Inspector Bernadette Lundbohm, in a phone message Wednesday to The Eagle, said she was "not at liberty to talk about" ongoing investigations and urged a reporter to obtain a copy of the "police report."

The Eagle has formally requested information about Kirchner's case from Pittsfield officials, who are "working on getting [the newspaper] the information we are allowed to release," mayoral aide Patricia Farley-Bouvier said in a Wednesday email message.

No criminal complaints had been filed against Kirchner as of Wednesday afternoon, according to officials in the Central Berkshire District Court clerk's office. However, a source told The Eagle that Kirchner would not be charged in connection with the steroid probe.

To reach Conor Berry:,
or (413) 496-6249.


Write to G.M. Heller at

Labels: , , , , , ,

Thursday, March 03, 2011

In Bed With General Electric Company

What the Hell Are These People Thinking?

Are These Movers-and-Shakers Stopping a $1.5 Billion Dollar Stimulus to the Berkshire Economy?

by G.M. Heller
Published: Thursday, March 03, 2011, 7:40 P.M. EST.

Pittsfield, MA -- A small group of Berkshire County movers-and-shakers are principals in a local entity the professed goal of which is to push for limited remediation of PCB's and other toxic chemicals contaminating the Housatonic River and its flood plain. By so doing, though, these presumably well-intentioned folks may unintentionally be standing in the way of what could be a total of about $1.5 billion ($1,500,000,000) of stimulus to Berkshire County's economy.

The conflict of self-interests is exacerbated by the fact that the entity, 1Berkshire, Inc., is being heavily subsidized by General Electric Company, the firm whose PCB pollution is the subject of the entity's 'low-impact' publicity campaign.

Further, it is G.E. which is on the hook for that billion and a half dollars that would be supplying super-stimulus to Berkshire County if indeed full remediation of all toxics dumped by G.E. were to be ordered by U.S.E.P.A..
(Article continues below.)

1Berkshire, Inc.'s 'Movers-and-Shakers'

Michael P. Daly
, Pres. & CEO, Berkshire Hills Bancorp, Inc. and Berkshire Bank

Roger O. Goldman, Founder & Gen. Partner, Berkshire Opportunity Fund

C. Jeffrey Cook, Sr. Partner, Cohen, Kinne, Valicenti & Cook, LLP

Laurie Norton Moffatt, Dir./CEO, Norman Rockwell Museum

Nancy Fitzpatrick, Owner, Red Lion Inn

Kevin Sprague, Owner, Creative Dir., Studio Two.

Reggie Cooper
, Managing Dir., Canyon Ranch

Gerard 'Jerry' Burke, Pres., Hillcrest Educational Centers

Michael Supranowicz, Pres. & CEO, Berkshire Chamber of Commerce

Lauri Ostrander Klefos, Pres. & CEO, Berkshire Visitors Bureau

Joseph C. Thompson, Dir., MASS MoCA

(Continued from above.)

1Berkshire is engaged in a public relations campaign, underwritten by at least $300,000 from G.E., to promote the notion that it would somehow be a good thing to limit or avoid altogether the remediation of PCB's and other toxic substances (including Hexavalent Chromium, Mercury, Volatile Organic Compounds, and Dioxins) plaguing -- poisoning actually -- Pittsfield, Silver Lake, the Housatonic River, Woods Pond, and the Housatonic River flood plain.

'Smart Clean-Up Coalition' -- but just how smart?

As part of that publicity campaign, 1Berkshire, using Facebook, is sponsoring what it calls the Smart Clean-Up Coalition, a so-called 'initiative' to promote what it labels a 'low-impact' clean-up of the Housatonic River; in other words, 1Berkshire's supporters are lobbying for a severely restricted remediation of the various toxins and cancer-causing chemicals contaminating the river and its flood plain. 1Berkshire's supporters are apparently concerned 'the cure' for PCB contamination may be worse than 'the disease'.

What 1Berkshire and G.E. are not telling people is that the real purpose behind the public relations blitz is to save G.E. literally $1.5 billion on the expense involved in removing the poisons G.E. intentionally dumped into the Berkshire environment from its now-closed transformer plant upriver over the course of more than a half-century.

As with all G.E. public relations campaigns, expect to be subjected to slick advertising everywhere (on local radio and TV, in The Berkshire Eagle and other newspapers, on local billboards, on Facebook, via snail mail and email, etc.) and all for the purpose of putting fear into people.

It pays to remember the bogeyman tactics G.E. orchestrated just ten years ago when the hot issue facing the company back then (hot meaning of potentially prohibitive impact to the company's bottom line) was whether G.E. should be required by U.S.E.P.A. to dredge the Hudson River of the PCB's released by G.E. from its plant upriver in Fort Edward, New York.

G.E. went all out in that campaign effort with ugly footage of dredges messily disgorging mud, glop and slop from a river bottom somewhere scenic, dumping all of it in also notably sloppy fashion into waiting barges (the ads intentionally -- misleadingly -- wanted to make people believe that PCB's in the river would be mishandled and allowed to re-pollute the river as they were being removed from it).

The reality, of course, has been a much different story. The actual dredges used for Hudson River remediation reflect state-of-the-art handling of materials. As much as possible, contaminated mud is held back and prevented from reentering the river environment.

Then, as now, it was a fear tactic meant to frighten and enrage.
The campaign back then was aimed at residents in New York and New Jersey, the two states sharing jurisdiction over the Hudson.

G.E. wanted those voters to bring pressure upon Congress (and thus U.S.E.P.A.) to accept G.E.'s 'initiative' for the Hudson, which then, as with the Housatonic at present, was a 'Low-Impact' plan (add: on G.E.'s bottom line) for remediation of PCB's and other chemicals contaminating the Hudson.

Back then, G.E.'s ultimate goal was 'monitored natural recovery' -- (sound familiar?) -- also known as the 'do nothing' plan. Watching and waiting costs G.E. almost nothing.

Bottom Line: Now, as in 2000, the whole intent behind these scare-the-public juggernauts is to save G.E. some very big bucks. G.E. avoids releasing total figures on what it costs the company to comply with U.S.E.P.A.'s remediation orders, but from time to time the expensive truth, like the PCB contamination in Silver Lake, inevitably seeps out.

Hudson River Clean-up Costs G.E. $1.33 Billion So Far

Under the headline "GE to Finish Cleanup Project -- Further Hudson River Dredging Prompts $500 Million Fourth-Quarter Charge", the Wall Street Journal reported last December that G.E. "will take a $500 million charge in the fourth quarter to help fund an environmental cleanup of the Hudson River that the conglomerate said it plans to complete during the next five to seven years." According to that same report: "GE said it already has spent $830 million on the Hudson cleanup effort. The company had dumped roughly 1.3 million pounds of polychlorinated biphenyls, or PCBs, legally over a number of decades before the toxic chemicals were banned in 1977."
(Note: G.E. released these eye-opening figures just two days before Christmas, a time guaranteed to have few taking notice.)

Cleaning up PCB's and the laundry list of other toxics G.E. dumped willy-nilly into the environment over decades is highly capital intensive -- no cheap third-world labor here.

The claimed 1.3 million pounds of PCB's G.E. dumped into the Hudson River is less than the total amount of PCB's and other toxic chemicals estimated to have been dumped into Silver Lake and the Housatonic River.

Engineers with G.E. have claimed that at least 1.5 million pounds of PCB's are documented to have gone into Silver Lake and the Housatonic River over the course of more than half a century. Few if any with the company actually know -- or want to acknowledge -- just how much more may actually have been dumped, sumped and pumped over that lengthy period.

Further, that figure does not include tons of contaminated industrial wastes which lay buried throughout Berkshire County including PCB-laced Fuller's Earth, transformers, capacitors and miscellaneous industrial detritus disposed of by G.E. personnel and its sub-contractors over the course of nearly one hundred years of the firm's Pittsfield operations (starting in 1890 with Stanley Electric Manufacturing Company, in which G.E. bought control in 1903).

Given the acknowledged $1.33 billion it is costing G.E. to clean-up the claimed 1.3 million pounds of PCB's in the Hudson River, and given that the going rate for PCB remediation thus appears to be about $1023 per pound, from collection to final disposal, it's this kind of real money -- more than $1.534 billion for remediation of the Housatonic River, Woods Pond, the river flood plain, and Silver Lake -- that G.E. is now trying to avoid having to pay out.

G.E.'s top management is no doubt well aware that a complete and thorough remediation of PCB's tied to its former Pittsfield operations could easily trump by hundreds of millions of dollars the amount the firm already acknowledges spending on Hudson River remediation.

By lobbying the public with a front group like 1Berkshire, G.E. is thus attempting to rustle up public opinion behind the idea that G.E. in the spirit of environmental preservation should be allowed to avoid altogether actually having to remove any of its toxics plaguing the Housatonic River and flood plain (and poisoning the river's fish, and the river's mammals, and the river's birds, and the river's amphibians, and the river's reptiles, and the river's insects -- not to mention Pittsfield's neighborhoods, Silver Lake, etc.).

If G.E. ends up being ordered by U.S.E.P.A. to do a thorough remediation, the likely cost of such clean-up ($1.534 billion in today's dollars) calculates to be about five thousand times the $300,000 the company is currently on record as having contributed to 1Berkshire (money that is subsidizing the current disinformation campaign).

G.E.'s gambit in Berkshire County appears to be the same one the company tried (and failed with) in 2000 over whether it should be required to dredge its PCB's out of the Hudson River: Spend a little money now on fright ads and a disinformation campaign -- and if the public buys into the lie -- then that will prove more cost effective than having to spend five thousand times that amount doing actual remediation work later on.

A $1.5 Billion Stimulus to the Berkshire Economy?

Questions which should be posed to the movers-and-shakers and other leading lights in Berkshire County who have signed-on to 1Berkshire's bandwagon seeking to limit or stop PCB remediation:
Where do you think $1.5 billion expended over the course of ten years on remediation might end-up being spent locally by those actually doing the clean-up work?
Given that Berkshire County's unemployment rate is over 8%, wouldn't an additional $1.5 billion coming into the county be a good thing for the region's economic health?
Wouldn't jobs paying union scale on these remediation projects be of enormous benefit to the local economy?
Don't equipment operators and those driving to and from remediation sites need to eat, buy fuel, consume groceries, and sleep someplace (if away from home)?
Wouldn't state and local governments benefit from taxes collected on sales, meals and lodging to those involved with the clean-up? #####

Labels: , ,