Saturday, January 14, 2012

Probation Chief's Kin Gets Preferential Treatment in 'Hit-and-Run' Case

Courtroom Cover-Up: Nilan 'Hit-and-Run' Hearing Closed to Public
Pittsfield's GOB Democrats Protecting Their Own
Hearing Date Kept Secret -- Patronage Appointee Speranzo Presiding
Probation Chief Nilan 'Pulling Strings' AGAIN?

by G.M. Heller
Published: Saturday, January 14, 2012

PITTSFIELD -- "The date of that hearing is not being made public," according to blogger Dan Valenti referring to the magistrate's hearing in the case involving Meredith Nilan, 24, a risk assessor at Berkshire Bank and daughter of Superior Court probation chief Clifford J. Nilan, alleged to be the driver of an SUV involved in a hit-and-run accident that severely injured a local jogger, Peter Moore, and tore fur from Moore's dog.

The accident left Moore broken and bleeding on a neighborhood street in Pittsfield the evening of December 8, 2011 (see below for a list of Moore's reported injuries detailed by blogger Valenti).

Writing in this past Thursday's (January 12) edition of, Valenti also reports that the court hearing, which will determine whether a criminal complaint should issue against Ms. Nilan, "apparently, will not be open to the public."

According to Valenti, the Pittsfield Police Department took more than a month to issue a citation against Ms. Nilan for the accident that took place along Winesap Road not far from where the subdivision road meets East Street. The citation is dated January 10, 2012; the alleged hit-and-run occurred December 8, 2011.

> Clifford J. Nilan, chief probation officer, Berkshire Superior Court, alleged owner of SUV involved in hit-and-run that severely injured jogger Peter Moore and his dog early in the evening December 8, 2011. >

According to The Berkshire Eagle, the accident vehicle, a 2001 Subaru Forester, is registered to Ms. Nilan's father, Clifford J. Nilan, whose official title is Chief Probation Officer for Berkshire Superior Court Probation Department in Pittsfield.

In 2010, Mr. Nilan, was one of those investigated by the Massachusetts Probation Department in the 'pay-for-play' scandal alleging improprieties, patronage hiring, and other irregularities in MPD under the administration of longtime commissioner, John J. O’Brien.

According to The Eagle's published report from November 11, 2010 written by reporter Conor Berry, Mr. Nilan was "admonished for mishandling the case of Angelo C. Stracuzzi, the former CEO of Greylock Federal Credit Union."

Berry wrote: "The Supreme Judicial Court appointed Paul F. Ware, a high-profile Boston attorney, to lead an independent probe of the (probation) department after a May (2010) report by the Boston Globe (Spotlight Team) uncovered alleged improprieties in the Probation Department."

In a statement issued at the time by the Mass. Probation Department and reported in The Eagle, MPD's investigators wrote: "The (Stracuzzi) case was misclassified and did not follow probation standards, which require avoidance of any actions that suggest or imply a lack of impartiality and avoidance of any conflict of interest."

Berry reported: "Stracuzzi resigned from the Pittsfield-based (Greylock Federal) credit union in June (2010) after The Eagle exposed his criminal background and personal and professional relationship with (Clifford J.) Nilan, a member of Greylock's board of directors while Stracuzzi was on probation with Nilan's department."

Berry also wrote: "Although Nilan was reprimanded for failing to follow proper protocol, state Probation Department officials in Boston declined to divulge details of his punishment, which they stated remains a confidential personnel matter. Nilan is still employed by the Massachusetts Trial Court."

According to Berry, "Following a review of Stracuzzi's case, which was transferred from Maine to Berkshire Superior Court in 2005, probation officials now acknowledge the case 'was not handled in compliance with the practices, policies and guidelines of the Office of the Commissioner of Probation.'"

< Meredith Nilan, alleged driver in hit-and-run that severely injured jogger Peter Moore and his dog early in the evening December 8, 2011; daughter of Berkshire Superior Court probation chief Clifford J. Nilan .

Fast forward 13 months to January 2012 and Clifford J. Nilan, referred to by blogger Valenti as a Pittsfield "Good Ol' Boy," is back in the news, apparently taking "actions that suggest or imply a lack of impartiality" and failing yet again to avoid appearance "of any conflict of interest," this time in a matter closer to home -- literally -- involving his eldest daughter and a vehicle registered to him alleged to have struck a pedestrian before speeding off.

This past Thursday, January 12, reports:
"(Meredith) Nilan was cited with two misdemeanors. A clerk magistrate will conduct a hearing to determine if there’s enough evidence to charge Ms. Nilan. Clerk Mag (sic) of the Central Berkshire District Court -- Superior Court -- is none other than Chris 'No Show' Speranzo. As you recall, this was one of the scenarios outlined as a concern when No Show quit as state rep to walked into a stacked vote to receive his lifetime $110,000 job: That he would be a GOB friend on the inside for just such situations, that is, if the GOBs needed a favor from inside the courts. THE PLANET is not suggesting that Speranzo is incapable of making an honest and fair judgment. He should understand, though, that all eyes will be upon him to render justice, not inside favors, for the daughter of a GOB’s GOB. The magistrate will determine if there is enough evidence to send it to trial. If not, it just goes away, no harm, no foul."

> Christopher N. Speranzo, newly-appointed Clerk Magistrate, Central Berkshire District Court in Pittsfield; a Democrat patronage appointee of Gov. Deval Patrick. >

Valenti goes on to report:
"(Meredith) Nilan’s father is Central Berkshire probation chief Clifford 'Cliffy' Nilan. THE PLANET considers instructive this piece of recent local history: When (Clifford) Nilan learned that his buddy, then president of Greylock Federal Credit Union, Angelo Stracuzzi, had been arrested in July 2005 on consecutive days, charged by Biddeford, Maine, police with four counts involving the molestation of teenage boys, (Clifford) Nilan said and did nothing, either as an officer of the court or as a member of the Greylock board. (Clifford) Nilan said nothing. We know this from the testimony of Greylock VP John Bissell. Bissell said when the story broke and — as far as we know, continues to say — that for five years, the Greylock Board had no idea their chief had become embroiled in scandal."

Valenti then poses this question, "Did Nilan use his influence to obtain favorable ..... treatment for a friend?"

Valenti lists what he alleges are "facts" in the case alleging Meredith Nilan's hit-and-run:
-- "Police issued a criminal citation for two misdemeanors: leaving the scene of a personal injury accident and negligent operation of a motor vehicle."
-- "Moore lost a large amount of blood, a broken leg, broken vertebrae, bruises, trauma to the left side of his body, a concussions (sic), and cuts all over his body. In short, he suffered catastrophic injuries. This was no brush-by, oops, sorry, see ya’ later. A man was almost killed."
-- "Though Ms. Nilan was the driver, her father owns the car. A Pittsfield detective source tells THE PLANET that 'charges could be coming against [Cliff Nilan]. Ms. Nilan’s lawyer, Tim Shugrue (former candidate for District Attorney), admits that his client and her father went back to the scene of the accident, looking for evidence." Valenti poses what he calls a "fair question": "Did they remove, alter, hide, or in any other way tamper with evidence?"

Valenti asks more questions: "As reported by the Berkshire Eagle, photos of the vehicle showed a head-sized hole in the windshield and dents in the hood. (Clifford J.) Nilan called police at 9:30 on the night of Dec. 8, 90 minutes after the accident. He told them his daughter hit 'either a dog or deer.' Why did he make that phone call? Ms. Nilan is of age. She holds a responsible job. She’s an adult. Why didn’t she get on the blower to speak to the police? Was she too discombobulated? Was she too upset? Was she too inebriated? Was she too used to daddy cleaning up her messes? Was it something else?" asks Valenti.

Valenti asks: "Was there alcohol involved? It has been reported that Ms. Nilan’s speeding, northbound car 'swerved' into the southbound lane. Is 'swerve' code for DUI? That same evening, Dec. 8, Berkshire Young Professionals, a sub-group of the Berkshire Chamber of Commerce, had a 'Networking Social' at Allium Restaurant in Great Barrington. Was she drinking? The social has listed hours of 5 to 7 p.m. The accident occurred that night at about 8:15 p.m. Have police interviewed people who were there?"

Valenti: "The police account of the accident and Ms. Nilan’s differ in many respects. She says it occurred at 9 p.m. Police say 8:15. She says it took place on East Street and McIntosh Road. (Berkshire Blog editor's note: The Eagle reports "Meredith Nilan told police she was on her way to meet her boyfriend for dinner about 9 p.m., when she hit either a dog or deer near the intersection of Winesap Road and McIntosh Drive.") Police found no evidence there. Moore, the victim, said it happened at the corner of East and Winesap. There, police found lots of blood and some dog fur. Who is telling the truth?" asks Valenti.

One thing Valenti forgets to mention is that The Nilan residence is just down the street from where Mr. Moore and his dog had their alleged run-in with the Nilan's SUV; it's a neighborhood where Meredith Nilan has been raised for the past 22 of her 24 years.

According to Yahoo! Maps, the distance from The Nilan's driveway to the spot where Mr. Moore and his dog were allegedly struck by the Nilan SUV going north (traveling at what Mr. Moore said was "a high rate of speed" and swerving) measures approximately o.2 miles -- 1,056 feet -- a spanse that takes just 20.6 seconds to cover at 35 miles-per-hour.
SEE: Yahoo! Map showing site of alleged hit-and-run involving Nilan SUV relative to location of the Nilan residence.

To the list of facts and questions posed by Mr. Valenti, add the following observation: The Nilans have lived at their Winesap Road address for more than 22 years, moving in when daughter Meredith was about two years old. Ms. Nilan has therefore grown up in this small neighborhood, a subdivision known as 'The Orchards'.

As such, the lady likely knows the neighborhood as well as anyone else who's lived in The Orchards for over two decades.

Ms. Nilan’s statement to police that she believed she "hit either a dog or deer," when in fact it was a dog and a man, could be construed as de facto admission by Ms. Nilan that she was, for as yet unexplained reasons, impaired and highly disoriented that night.

What factors caused Meredith Nilan to be in such condition at quarter after 8 on a Thursday eve? <<<<<

by Dan Valenti,, January 12, 2012.

"Alleged: Pittsfield Probation Chief's SUV in Hit-and-Run; Daughter a Suspect"
by G.M. Heller, Berkshire Blog, January 08, 2012.

Reprinted from The Berkshire Eagle:

Police connect SUV to hit-and-run accident

By Andrew Amelinckx, Berkshire Eagle Staff
Wednesday, January 11, 2012

PITTSFIELD -- Police say they have connected an SUV owned by the county's chief probation officer and driven by his daughter to a hit-and-run accident last month that seriously injured a man jogging with his dog on a city road.

Police believe Meredith Nilan was heading north in her father Clifford Nilan's 2001 Subaru Forester on Winesap Road the evening of Dec. 8 when she swerved into the southbound lane and struck Peter Moore, who was headed north, according to a Pittsfield Police accident report.

"We have a driver, we have a victim and we have a vehicle," said Pittsfield Police Capt. John Mullin.

A criminal citation for two misdemeanors -- leaving the scene of a personal injury accident and negligent operation of a motor vehicle -- were lodged against Meredith Nilan in District Court.

The case will go before a clerk magistrate for a show-cause hearing to determine if there's enough evidence to charge Meredith Nilan. If no probable cause is found, the charges would be dismissed. If probable cause is found, a court arraignment would take place. The hearing date, as well as the hearing itself, is not public information.

Nilan's and Moore's accounts of where and when the accident took place on Winesap Road differed, but police determined Moore's description of the accident site was correct. Police used a search warrant to inspect the car during their investigation.

About 8:15 p.m. on Dec. 8, Peter Moore was hit by a car while jogging with his dog on Winesap Road near East Street. He suffered a fractured calf bone and a broken vertebrae, a bruised colon, trauma to the left side of his body, a concussion, and abrasions "from head to toe."

Meredith Nilan told police she was on her way to meet her boyfriend for dinner about 9 p.m., when she hit either a dog or deer near the intersection of Winesap Road and McIntosh Drive.

Her attorney, Timothy J. Shugrue, said on Friday that she isn't sure what she hit and that she went back to the site with her father, but they couldn't find any evidence of what she may have hit. Clifford Nilan later called police to report the accident.

The intersection where Meredith Nilan told police she struck something is south of where police say they found a large amount of blood and dog fur and where Moore said he was struck by a vehicle traveling at a high rate of speed. Moore was unable to give a description of the vehicle that hit him.

Moore walked home and went to bed without reporting what happened. Early the next morning, he went to Berkshire Medical Center where he was treated for his injuries and released nearly a week later.<<<<<

'Police connect SUV to hit-and-run accident'
by Andrew Amelinckx, The Berkshire Eagle, Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Write to G.M. Heller at

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

I heard that Meredith's hearing was held yesterday - in private. Also heard that "someone with integrity" is reviewing the outcome of the case because he/she didn't agree with the outcome. Hmmmm - sure sounds like she initially got off, but someone else is reviewing it!

Sunday, January 15, 2012 12:16:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why did the Pittsfield Police Chief permit this matter to go to a criminal show cause hearing when the officers could have filed criminal complaints. There sure seems to enough evidence to support a complaint. Did the woman speak to the police that night? If not why not? Was she under the influence? How does a dog go through the windshield? Did the police have to get a search warrant to examine the car or did the Nilan's cooperate with the investigation? A clerk-magistrate's show cause hearing is not the proper forum for a matter this serious. This matter is unconscionable. This matter requires in depth investigation not only of the accident but the post accident conduct of the Nilans.

Friday, January 20, 2012 4:52:00 PM  
Anonymous 66 said...

What can a concerned citizen do to help assure that an impartial review is made and justice be served. I have no motive to believe or to not believe the Nilans but considering what has been published this whole situation begs for review.

Sunday, January 22, 2012 1:51:00 AM  
Anonymous ariestu said...

for a few days some posters on PV have alluded to new rumors and a "big scoop" in the nilan case, inferring that there was an affair between some of the principal parties. Valenti claims to be aware of it but has posted nothing (unless it's him planting these rumor seeds) Have you heard of anything earth shaking involving meredith's cell phone records? If anyone can get to the truth, you can. Thanks.

Sunday, March 25, 2012 2:32:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So much corruption. Sickening.

Thursday, April 09, 2015 9:18:00 PM  

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