Article

PLANET CONFIRMS: FEDS PROBING PPD AS STEROIDS STORY GROWS, plus MARCHETTI WEIGHS IN, and AVJ. TEACHER’S PAY IN BAY STATE? A WHOPPING $67,577 a yr!

BY DAN VALENTI

Feds Swoop Down on PPD

(FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE, March 25, 2011) — The Planet can now confirm the extensive involvement of the federal government into a drug investigation involving the Pittsfield Police Department. According to a high-ranking city hall source, “the feds (Postal Investigators) are heavily involved.”

Prior to this, no city, state, of federal official would confirm first that there is in fact a probe going and that it involved the feds. This confirms what has been suspected, and it indicates that this case may be far more serious and involved than just one officer from the Pittsfield Police Department.

Yesterday, another source, this one connected with a senior level rank within the PPD, said the investigation involves the actions of more than one officer. Neither of these two sources wanted The Planet to use their names. The police source was critical of Chief Michael Wynn’s handling of the case, saying that he used Mayor Jimmy Ruberto’s absence as an excuse “for not doing anything.” The source said Wynn is “in way over his head as chief.” The Planet’s call to the PPD and Chief Wynn have not been returned.

Berry’s Reporting Advances the Story

The Planet was encouraged to see the Boring Broadsheet in on the case. Conor Berry’s piece yesterday advanced the story in a responsible and measured way. Berry confirmed

  • A probe into illegal seroids
  • The identity of the PPD officer, plainclothesman David P. Kirchner of the Drug Task Force
  • The Planet’s information that part of Kirchner’s punishment was being busted back to uniform, where he is pounding a beat. The Planet learned that Kirchner was suspended for five days (with or without pay is not known), and that he was assigned to the midnight shift.
  • There is “an outside agency” investigating
  • The PPD launched an internal affairs probe
  • The PPD punished Kirchner as a consequence of this internal probe, which, oddly, came only after the department was tipped off by another police unit. Berry quotes PPD Chief Michael Wynn, saying the PPD “received information from an outside law enforcement agency.” This would suggest that there were problems within the department that Wynn either didn’t know about or knew about but ignored.
  • Wynn wouldn’t tell Berry the nature of the allegations against Kirchner. That apparently is part of the chief’s stonewalling, since he never returned The Planet’s inquiries.
  • Richard Dohoney also followed the “circle the wagons” strategy, failing to provide Berry with any details of Kirchner’s suspension. Donhoney hid behind the old, “I don’t comment on personnel matters.”
  • U.S. Postal Inspector Bernadette Lundholm, the same contact that The Planet has been communicating with and that blogger Glenn Heller quoted in the story he ran on his website, told Berry that she couldn’t comment about ongoing investigations. Fine, but here’s the kicker. She advised him to obtain the police report of the incident. When Berry requested a copy of the report from city officials, he got the “we’re working on it” runaround. How much you want to wager neither he, The Planet, Glenn Heller, Walter Cronkite, Horace Greeley, nor the Man in the Moon sees the report, which is a public document required to be produced to the media upon demand.

Connect the Dots

The Planet gives Conor Berry credit for going all out, even to the point knocking on the door of Kirchner’s home in Lenox. Kirchner did not make himself available for comment. Neither did he return a phone call requesting comment. Folks, have you noticed a pattern with stories like this? Let’s play connect the dots:

(a) Something happens, either of a criminal nature, unlawful, or embarrassing for the city.

(b) Word of it spreads like wildfire throughout the city and beyond, thanks mainly to computers, the Internet, and smart phones. Media, whose job it is to keep our ears to the rail, hear about it. We start asking questions (always “bad form” in the city of Pittsfield).

(c) City officials pretend like we’re still in the age of typewriters, and they refuse to provide much meaningful information if any at all. That which they do provide comes only after journalists such as The Planet and Conor Berry have to perform root-canal extractions without pain killer. They think that by stoning us, we will just drop the story. Now maybe the BB will, but in the New Journalism, tenacious websites will not.

(d) The misinformation spreads along with the snippets of truth that every story contains. It then becomes the job of the journalist, writing under fierce pressure of deadline, to sift out truth from rumor. Amazingly, we usually get most of the story right. When we don’t, or if some of the “facts” are inaccurate, the officials complain — the same ones who won’t talk to you in the first place.

(e) In The Planet’s case, there are well-known public figures such as Uncle Jerry Lee and Ward 5 councilor J-Lo who refuse to talk to us. Then, when we publish our stories, they are the first to complain that we didn’t include their perspectives.

How Big is the Federal Probe? Some Reasonable Sepculations

Yesterday, The Planet worked the phones and keyboard, and obtained information that leads us to believe that:

  1. The federal investigation is widespread and involves more than one member of the PPD
  2. More than one federal agency is involved
  3. Criminal charges are being weighed
  4. There was a downtown commercial establishment involved, willingly or duped we don’t know.
  5. There is also an eerie familiarity with this steroids story, that harkens back to a similar story that BB Executive Editor Tim Farkas spiked five years ago. Anyone remember that one? We would advise our good friend Conor Berry to ask Farkas about that one. The Planet will soon be providing a memory refresher.

The Planet stresses that 1-4 above are the PRELIMINARY conclusions we’ve reached based on what we’ve been able to piece together. All four major be correct, and all four may be inaccurate, or any combination in between. #5 is as real as it gets.

A Case Study in New Journalism

This story should go to the Media Law course at the Harvard Business School for a seminar, “Journalism in the Age of Twitter.” The rapid, nearly instantaneous nature of communication today, without the disciplines and restraints imposed by traditional standards of journalism, leave everyone — officials, media, citizens, newsmakers — walking a new land. Some of us (The Planet, for instance) take on the role of eager explorers. Others quake in fear because there is no roadmap. To them we say, “Have no fear. We shall blaze the trail.”

In this new land, information circulates electronically faster and more comprehensively than in the old way, authoritative ways: sanctioned newspapers, radio, TV. Citizens journalists, busy bodies, those looking to create trouble, those who deliberately want to spread false information: All of these are now lumped into the news mix along with trained journalists. Because of the sheer number of cell phones and computers, this news finds heavy reception in a way that rivals old media.

Public officials and bureaucrats must realize that, yes, they can play the old game of “No comment” or “We can’t talk about a personnel matter,” but meanwhile, stories are circulating and taken as fact which may have precious little of that substance in them. It’s their call. Stories won’t go away, but they might.

The Planet continues to monitor this story and will share new information when it becomes available.

————–

Better Late than Never

A coupe days ago, The Planet’s barkeep, Glenn Strange, announced last call for responses

to our Big 3 Questions facing the city regarding PCBs, Hill 78, and unfunded liabilities.

Peter Marchetti, Ward 3’s Paul Capitanio, J-Lo, and Uncle Gerry missed out. Since then,

The Planet has heard from Marchetti and Capitanio. Both said they never received our

original e-mail requesting comment. The Planet accepts that at face value.

In fact, in Marchetti’s case, we know why he didn’t get our request: We sent it to the wrong e-mail

address. Peter’s correct address is Petermmarchetti@aol.com. We forgot to include the

middle “m”. We apologize to our Right Honorable Good Friend.

A Point of Issue

We do take issue with Marchetti’s claim, given to us in his reply e-mail, that he shouldn’t be expected to monitor sites such as PlanetValenti Dot Com every day to learn of our requests for information. Peter, as a public citizen, of course, can consume as much or as little media as he wishes. It can be traditional such as the Berkshire Eagle or non-traditional, such as The Planet. He can also attend to or ignore any that he wishes in his citywide roles as an at-large councilor.

The Planet, however, feels it reasonable an expectation that he regularly monitor this site, since we have established ourselves with the sheer volume, quantity, and quality of our daily input as a major media player in Berkshire County and, especially, in the city of Pittsfield. Media outlets such as this one must become a part of his regular routine of monitoring and education, or he will not be able to credibly stand before the citizens of Pittsfield asking for a vote and expecting then to believe he is doing his due diligence in keeping informed on the issues. We are drawing large numbers to the site. Our readers’ comments each day produce reactions to our stories, pro and con, from a wide spectrum of the city. Marchetti has the obligation to be informed.

With that, we raise the gate and allow Peter’s comments on these three questions:

PETER MARCHETTI, AT LARGE

Q. Regarding PCBs and other toxins in the Housatonic River put there and throughout the city by GE, what do you advocate — removal, partial removal, or leave alone?

A. We must ensure at all times the safety of the People of Pittsfield.  It is easy to say full removal or leave alone but we must make sure that we strike a proper balance to make sure that we gather all relevant information to make sure that the safety of all residents is the major focus and not tell people we will support something without documented proof that they will be safe.  We must open a door of
communication and foster an approach that will maintain safety.

Q. Do you favor the removal of Hill 78 from its present location
or out of the City?

A. I do not support the removal of Hill 78 from its present location.
I would have never supported the location of it in the first place. With that being said, the safety and well-being of the residents of that area is of utmost importance and we must be sure that if we take any action to disrupt the area that residents are safe.  We must make sure that we continue to advocate for permanent monitoring of both air and ground water for the area. We must continue to follow technology and if the time ever arises to remove it with the safety of the residents being first then we should pursue that option.

Q. Do you think unfunded liabilities should be addressed immediately or not?

I do believe that action has already taken place to begin to address the issue. This issue was before the City Council subcommittee more than 1 year ago to assess the actual condition of where the City sits. This is not something new but something that has seen the light of day with the changes in the accounting process. There are many avenues that can be taken to address this issue, and it is one that I will discuss further as the campaign unfolds.

The Planet thanks our Right Honorable Good Friend for his responses. We offer these

Quick comments on the three responses:

  • His statement on PCBs reads like bureaucratic-politico boilerplate: cover all options,

make everyone happy, offend no one. It does not take a stance. We hope Peter can shed this baffling waffling.

  • We respect the flat-out position on Hill 78 but disagree with Marchetti’s

position that the Hill is safer where it is, next to Allendale School, than being removed.

  • On unfunded liabilities, yes “action has already taken place,” but what action? The

fact is, the city has numerous times extended the “pay the piper” date on its obligations

to retirees, and at some point, large chunks of a $380 million (and growing) bill will

become due. How can a city strapped for cash solve this. It could quadruple taxes. It

could default. The Planet doesn’t mean to alarm, but default on the city’s obligations

to its retirees is not a far-fetched scenario. Only The Planet has sounded the alarm.

As Marchetti’s answer shows, and the response of defenders of the County Retirement

Board echo, public officials are not showing a sense of urgency. They are giving us the,

“Everything is fine, trust us” answer.

—————————————————————–

The Planet passes this along, for comment. This is related to our story on pensions.

It also confirms the average salarly for a teacher in Massachusetts: $67,577!!

Pioneer/Boston.com Blog:

What’s a Retiring Teacher’s Pension Worth?

A Globe reader picked up on the “disconnect” on the issue of public pensions. He noted that Renée Loth’s March 19 op-ed “Tensions over pensions,’’ which argued that the pension system is working just fine, contradicted the Globe news report from the next day “State’s pension costs on the rise’’ (Metro, March 20), which stated that “the number of state retirees collecting pensions of at least $100,000 has climbed more than 20 percent in the past year, jumping from 145 to 176, with the top pensioner receiving more than $240,000.’’

Where’s the truth lie? Here is a big piece of the answer, because it relates to teachers, who are one of the largest categories of public employees in the state pension system. So, what’s a retiring teacher’s pension worth?

Let’s start with the state’s department of education’s data on average salary. In 2009 the average teacher in the Commonwealth earned $67,577 (the last year for which we have complete data). By 2011, the number is likely $74,000. The salaries of retiring teachers, of course, are much higher becauseseniority acts as a law that makes it so you receive much higher salaries at the end of your career.

Last week, WCVB’s Chronicle discussed the national debate on collective bargaining. I noted during the segment that a teacher in the profession for 30 years will be able to retire with a pension of just under $60,000. At worst, I was off by two years. See table below (and read more here).

49 Responses to “PLANET CONFIRMS: FEDS PROBING PPD AS STEROIDS STORY GROWS, plus MARCHETTI WEIGHS IN, and AVJ. TEACHER’S PAY IN BAY STATE? A WHOPPING $67,577 a yr!”

  1. rick
    March 25, 2011 at 9:23 am #

    the problem here is that the people who want to be mayor are not up with the times, the internet, cells etc are here, and when people want to find something out the dont wait for the 5oclock news or tomorrows newspaper, we just log on and get it. this site and others are the proof……… for pete to make a statement that he dosent monitor this site is laughable, he may not himself, but im sure someone in his camp does,and if he dosent then he better… dan thanks again for starting the planet, theres a lot of voices that want to be heard, and a lot of ideas here that can actually help this city if the people we put in office just listen. i think we can never stop learning, but if we do, and if we decide we are smart enough, we can then run for office.

  2. GMHeller
    March 25, 2011 at 9:33 am #

    Mr. Valenti:
    Where is it written in Pittsfield stone that “personnel” matters are not ones on which city officials are ‘allowed’ to comment?

    Also, where else but on a Website about Palookaville would matters of local importance first be listed as “A”, “B”,”C”,”D” & “E”, then referred to in the very next paragraph as #1-5 above?

    • danvalenti
      March 25, 2011 at 1:50 pm #

      GMH
      They hide behind state law. I don’t have the provision off hand, but we don’t think it’s a valid excuse. Yes, there are exceptional cases involving personnel that should be kept hidden, but they are “exceptional.” The problem with the implementation of the stature in Pittsfield is that they use it to avoid ANY personnel situation where it might embarrass The Man. It’s funny how the taxpayers are supposed to shut up and pay up when it comes to funding unsustainable rises in salaries and benefits, but when a public employee screws up big time, those same taxpayers are stoned. When the press tries to probe, we are being “intrusive” and are only “trying to drive up ratings.”

      • Conor Berry
        March 25, 2011 at 6:36 pm #

        Dan,

        You’re right: If EVER there were a story that perfectly illustrates the impact of New Media, it’s this one.

        Why?

        Here’s why: “Electronic evidence, including recorded text messages, detail the types of drugs Kirchner wanted to buy, according to the internal affairs report. Written and audio statements given by an unidentified individual to investigators indicate that ‘Kirchner purchased the illegal drugs for personal use,’ the internal report states.
        “‘In the text messages, both Kirchner and [name deleted] talk openly of using steroids, buying steroids selling steroids and so on.’”

        I’m embarrased to admit, Dan, but i’m actually quoting from my own story, which quotes heavily from an internal affairs report The Eagle obtained from the PPD/City Hall on Friday. The heavily redacted document includes many potentially damning details, including these findings by the PPD: Kirchner engaged in “criminal conduct” and “conduct unbecoming of an officer.”

        Frankly, I don’t see how a criminal complaint cannot be issued considering — and I quote from The Eagle article, which is slated for print publication Saturday (and online publication by roughly midnight, or thereabouts, tonight, which is technically tomorrow) — “Kirchner, ‘through his union and union attorney, had reached an agreement with the city to accept responsibility in this matter and submit to a sustained finding on two vioaltions’ of the Police Department’s rules and regulations.”

        The PPD internal affairs report is plenty thorough, but much of it is heavily redacted, with thick, black ink blocking out such crucial identifiers as the investigating authority, or authorities, and the individual who allegedly sold Kirchner the “roids.”

        An interesting story, nonetheless, with a tip-of-the-iceberg vibe to it. We’ll have to see what Monday brings. Will a criminal complaint be filed in Central Berkshire District Court? Will a complaint be filed in a neighboring jurisdiction, perhaps in Springfield or Northampton or Westfield or … who knows, really.

        The “irony” that a drug investigator might get caught up in such a matter is somewhat of a cliche in a post-Dirty Thirty world. And who hasn’t seen “Serpico” or “Prince of the City” or even the “French Connection.” Even good guys get tempted sometimes.

        The real surprise is that a cop who utilizes the latest technologies to catch bad guys could potentially be brought down by text messaging. Yet another reason why I don’t text. Don’t even know how, don’t even want to know how. I prefer the novelty of writing a letter, licking the stamp, and posting the message at my local P.O.

        Also, thanks for accurately piecing out the chain of events that led to this revelation. Oviously, you and Mr. Heller are on the job, which is reassuring for anyone who values the truth. It’s a shame, however, that Mr. Heller can’t take a page from your book and avoid the incessant, nasty jabs at others who seek answers to today’s questions.

        Regards,
        CONOR

      • GMHeller
        March 27, 2011 at 6:26 am #

        Mr. Valenti:
        Can you provide a link to the language in that state law to which you are referring above?

    • danvalenti
      March 25, 2011 at 2:20 pm #

      GMH
      The 1-5, A-E discrepancy is one of those strange cyber autoformat things. The machine didn’t believe me when I went to numerals, and it insists on changing 1, , 3, 4, 5 to A, B, C, D, E, since I had already used lower case a, b, etc. The Planet will soon be upgrading to typewriters, though in an odd way, as you point out, the glitch probably accurately sums up the state of things in Palookaville.

  3. GMHeller
    March 25, 2011 at 9:49 am #

    Mr. Valenti:

    You focus on Conor Berry’s reportage, but so that the following comment, as yet unanswered by Mr. Berry, does not get lost amongst the multitude posted yesterday, here it is again:

    Conor Berry,
    Please confirm or deny:
    1. Did any reporter for The Berkshire Eagle bother to go down to Berkshire Nautilus (or hang out on the sidewalk outside the place) to interview customers or passersby who might have seen or heard something going on last week? (And ditto for the building directly across the street from BN)?
    2. Did any reporter for The Eagle go to the homes across Center Street to interview residents who might have observed anything out of the ordinary happening on Summer Street last week; and ditto for the house at the corner of Union and Center behind Berkshire Nautilus?
    3. Did any reporter for The Eagle interview anyone at The Elks Lodge (catty corner behind BN) who might have seen or heard something going down in the area last week?

    • Conor Berry
      March 25, 2011 at 8:00 pm #

      I went to the Moose Lodge instead, Mr. Heller. Bad move on my part. Then I went over to the Candy Shop, where Iggy and Ponio told me, and I quote: “We ain’t seen nuttin,’ Daddy O.”

      Mr. Heller, if you received some information (in Virginia? Or is it Maryland? I can’t keep up with your address changes!) from a Pittsfield local who observed a lot of police activity outside a city health club, why don’t you just share that information on this site. Isn’t sharing good?

      As I previously stated, my sources “ain’t seen nuttin.’”

      CONOR

      • Conor Berry
        March 25, 2011 at 8:11 pm #

        And another thing, Mr. Heller …

        … I don’t know why you’re focusing on “last week.”

        My sources tell me that this investigation came to a head in Pittsfield in early March.

        By the 4th, or thereabouts, the city police department was aware of an investigation by an outside agency. By the 7th and 8th, the city’s internal affairs interviewer met with outside investigators. That same city investigator authored a report on the 10th, which concluded that Kirchner had, indeed, purchased steroids, based on information supplied to the PPD by an unnamed investigatory body.

        Kirchner’s suspension presumably began on the 10th, or thereabouts, so he was effectively out of the picture. The police action, or sting, or raid at a city gym you’ve identified as Ground Zero for this probe never happened, according to my sources, which include law enforcement officials and the owners of the gym you’ve identified.

        That’s all I know.

        CONOR

        • Scott Moore
          March 26, 2011 at 12:13 pm #

          News flash the police lie. Three days ago a “high ranking official” claimed to know nothing about this investigation. The point is you guys need to stop taking the ppd’s word on things and start getting the real story.

  4. Dusty
    March 25, 2011 at 1:34 pm #

    Marchetti may not have gotten your email but I gotta believe your request to answer the questions was a hot topic between all the counselors. He was probably torn between Lee telling him to tell you to shove your questions, and the rest of the GOB who desperately need a gullible candidate/puppet to run for mayor.
    In typical Marchetti fashion he waffled back and forth and finally decided it could not hurt all that bad to give some wishy washy response just to shut you up while he ponders his political future. In my opinion he simply does not have what it takes to lead a city No way…No how.

    • danvalenti
      March 25, 2011 at 1:58 pm #

      DUSTY
      I’m convinced Peter Marchetti did not get my e-mail, since I mailed to the wrong “peter marchetti” address. I, too, find it hard to believe he didn’t know I was looking for answers, given the fuss this raised and the fact that it was a hot topic in all the watering holes and around the water coolers. Not having facts on that one, though, I take Pete at his word. I think I raise a valid point when I say that he must begin to monitor The Planet as part of his due diligence to stay informed.

  5. PCP
    March 25, 2011 at 2:37 pm #

    Mr.Marchetti’s position on the unfunded liabilities should be presented now, as he contends it was presented before a City Council sucommittee which one and on what date? Why wait, if you know somthing that is public information?. Remember if you are not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem. Why wait until the election process, the solution starts now! Note typical Pittsfield elected official response: immature and directed toward an unintelligent and lazy voter.

  6. PITTSFIELD BELIEVER
    March 25, 2011 at 5:15 pm #

    @PCP Are you one of Valenti’s “spies” or shills? Or are you Valenti in disguise? Are you real? Your request of Mr Marchetti is overstrident and unreasonable. Talk about part of the solution or problem. That’s funny Valenti IS the problem and must bear a large part of the blame for the ills of the city since it is rhetoric like his .. and only his because most others in the local media are fair and positive in their cpoverage of Pittsfield … that drives it down and keeps businesses away, good people away, and creates a hesitation on the part of someone who might want to come here.

    • danvalenti
      March 25, 2011 at 6:13 pm #

      Oh, my. Readers, help me out? How does one respond to this sort of hysterical comment. As a confident told The Planet after reading this, “You’re pissing off the right people. For what it’s worth, you’re also helping the right ones!”

      • believe it
        March 25, 2011 at 8:16 pm #

        @ Pittsfield believer… Dan Valenti is indeed real, and his journalism is fair and balanced. As a matter of fact I have found for the most part, all his updated news breaking postings to be right on target. Believe it! Read it! Explore it! You will find yourself enlightened, remember, with knowledge comes power, power in being able to take your head out of the sand and see the light!

    • Joetaxpayer
      March 25, 2011 at 8:57 pm #

      Wow,how did Valenti buy the steriods and plant them on Kirchiner.WINNING. Marchetti is running for Mayor,not running from it,time to make access.If not he will have little chance to win.Really should not blame Dan for exposing the truths of this great little city.

      • Hoping Justice is served
        March 26, 2011 at 11:26 am #

        Bottom line here people is that the truth needs to be told, if this is the only place we can get it then so be it.
        Thank you Planet Valenti for helping us see (or not see…we will see!) that the truth always prevails and hopefully justice will be served.

    • Scott Moore
      March 26, 2011 at 12:15 pm #

      People don’t want to come here there because there are no jobs and GE left behind a toxic legacy. Sure north street is nice but if you look around most business is geared toward tourist and second home owners.

    • Jim Gleason
      March 26, 2011 at 12:44 pm #

      @Believer. Mr. Valenti is exposing Pittsfield politics for what it is, crooked and dirty with no morals. He is keeping people informed of the truth, unlike sycophant talk show hosts who support these crooks on a daily basis. If businesses do come here they won’t stay too long when they realize the cost of doing business, aka greasing the right palms. I believe you are either blind, stupid or both not to see what’s going on here. Keep the blinders on.

  7. Luxor Rex
    March 25, 2011 at 7:50 pm #

    @dan you don’t need help with that fool PB. You handles it like the master you are. quick points: thanks for driving this story on the steroids bust. without your work, this would be hidden in the dark. the BB only covered it because you forced them into it. As for mr. marchetti, i don’t buy his excuse he didn’t know. His comments are typical fence sitting pete. Teachers? you are giving them a rough ride, but with two kids in the public school system i know something’s not working.

  8. just saying
    March 25, 2011 at 9:09 pm #

    If this happened on the 4th or 5th why did the BB wait almost ten days to say anything about it?
    Ummm.. Maybe because it was to be swept under the rug?!
    If Glenn Heller had not broke this when he did, where would it be now?
    As DV said yesterday, he knew of it and was doing his fact checks. So it would be out there for all us little guys to see.
    You have to respect those that have balls. Heller and Valenti got em. Mr. Berry not so much. And maybe Conor does but working for Dim Farkas, he is restricted in shining light where it needs to be shone.
    So what we have here is a couple of bloggers doing the job that the Media used to do.
    And that is fine.
    Only problem is that a majority of the population is not seeking the truth, they are led by such publications as the BB.

    • Conor Berry
      March 25, 2011 at 9:25 pm #

      ‘Just Saying,’

      You sound a good deal more articulate in this post than in your previous ones. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

      I’ve made it pretty darned clear that I learned about a Pittsfield cop and a MSP trooper being tainted by this investigation by reading Heller’s “article” on his blog. I gave you (I mean, Heller) credit already. The inability of some online critics to carefully read what’s already been stated is utterly mind-boggling.

      No conspiracy to cover up or conceal this story on my end. The cold, hard truth is that I learned something from Glenn Heller. Ouch! Is this an indictment of me or The Eagle, for that matter? No, not really; it simply means that somenone tipped off Heller before I was informed.

      If someone doesn’t like me, or The Eagle, they ain’t gonna drop a dime. A penny, maybe. And I can live with that. I’m not from Berkshire County, so I have no idea what The Eagle was, or how it pursued news stories in its halcyon days.

      I know that I take my job seriously, and that I try to get to the bottom of issues in a timely fashion. Now that the onion has been peeled a bit, and things are starting to stink a bit, we’re learning a lot more about this investigation. I’ll be doing some more peeling on Monday.

      CONOR

      • GMHeller
        March 26, 2011 at 5:58 am #

        Conor Berry:
        You still haven’t answered my questions posted yesterday and the day before re: the following:

        RE: The Fed Steroids Probe

        Conor,

        1. Has any reporter for The Berkshire Eagle bothered to go down to Berkshire Nautilus (or hang out on the sidewalk outside the place) to interview customers and/or passersby who might have seen, heard, or witnessed something ‘going down’ the week before last involving the current federal steroids investigation?

        2. Ditto this question for the building directly across the street from BN?

        3. Has any reporter for The Eagle gone to any of the homes across Center Street to interview residents who might have observed anything out of the ordinary happening on Summer Street week before last; and ditto for the house at the corner of Union and Center behind Berkshire Nautilus?

        4. Has any reporter for The Eagle interviewed anyone at The Elks Lodge (catty-corner from the rear of BN) who might have seen, heard, or witnessed something going down in the area week before last?

        —————————————————–

        RE: State of Maine v. Angelo Stracuzzi

        Conor, you still fail to answer the questions posed here the other day, so once again, please confirm or deny:

        1. Did The Berkshire Eagle ever publish the facts and circumstances surrounding both ORIGINAL sets of complaints filed by State of Maine against Angelo Stracuzzi? (There were two entirely separate sets of complaints with three charges in each set filed by Maine. Each set of complaints involved a different minor.)

        2. Did The Eagle ever publish the police report filed with the local court by the Biddeford Police Department?

        3. Did The Eagle ever publish the respective ages of those two ‘young males’ who were involved in the respective two sets of complaints against Mr. Stracuzzi?

        ————————————————–

        Conor, waiting for your response to all of the above.

        • Conor Berry
          March 26, 2011 at 6:15 am #

          1. No. The Eagle didn’t publish the facts and circumstances of the original complaints because those complaints weren’t acted on. Those complaints were dismissed by the York County DA’s office, just like your criminal cases were dismissed. Should we, The Eagle, continue to remind people about your charges if you weren’t convicted of them, Mr. Heller?

          2. The Eagle doesn’t publish police reports. The Eagle uses police reports, and tips, and live interviews with actual living people, including defendants, cops, lawyers, etc., as jumping off points for further exploration of the issues that need to be examined.

          3. I don’t know if The Eagle ever published the “victims” ages. I believe we referred to them as two young males, or young teenagers, but I’m not prepared to scour Eagle archives to see how these boys were referred to in past dispatches. Maybe we called them boys. No matter, these boys could not be reached for comment, despite valiant efforts on my part to reach them. Nor could I reach their attorneys. My thoughts at the time were (A) they probably did not know that the man who allegedly offered them money in exchange for sex was a CEO of Berkshire County, Massachusetts,’ largest financial institution, and (B) that this old man on the “prowl” has strong ties to the county’s political leaders.

          Mr. Heller, the Stracuzzi story is over. MoveOnHeller.org.

          When I intially spoke to Maine probation officials a good while ago — back when you probably still thought Angelo Stracuzzi was some chef in Boston’s North End — the probation official I interviewed wondered why I was so interested in dismissed charges, which, he pointed out, are only misdemeanors. I didn’t spill the beans just then, but subsequent calls to authorities in Maine were met with resistance. Read: no callbacks or no comments.

          • Conor Berry
            March 26, 2011 at 6:38 am #

            Mr. Heller,

            Further, the behavior allegedly exhibited by Mr. Stracuzzi that so fascinates you — his alleged predatory stalking of two young teenage boys — is eerily similar to your own alleged predatory behavior.

            You, too, Mr. Heller were accused (convicted?) of stalking, though your alleged victim was an adult woman, I’m told, so I guess that makes it OK.

            Man, you gotta start living by the Golden Rule, Mr. Heller, before Karma bites you in the arse.

            CONOR

          • GMHeller
            March 26, 2011 at 8:08 am #

            Conor Berry,
            The repeated failure of your employer The Berkshire Eagle to report a news story straight and in timely fashion (and without first checking to see whether the subject is a local sacred cow in which case the story will either be buried, half-reported, or not reported at all) is no excuse for snarky comments, especially when readers like myself and others point out in good faith incredibly obvious deficiencies in The Eagle’s reportage.
            If you can’t take the heat suggest you get the hell out of the kitchen because your business ain’t going to be getting any easier anytime soon, especially for dilettantes with thin skins.

      • just saying
        March 26, 2011 at 4:05 pm #

        Conor,

        Perhaps some of what I say is ringing true to you about the BB and their/your reporting.

        Your first paragraph in your last reply was telling.
        It was arrogant, snide, and petty. But it was also quite telling. You know that what I’ve said on here is true in most cases. So now you are going to insult me.
        Well that’s fine cause I’m a big boy and I can take it, now why don’t you come in off the playground and respond without the kiddie insults.

    • GMHeller
      March 26, 2011 at 5:28 am #

      @’Just Saying’
      You make excellent points.
      Conor Berry is claiming that he “learned about a Pittsfield cop and a MSP trooper being tainted by this investigation by reading” Berkshire Blog.
      That’s convenient.
      Why then is it that I was getting emails from people telling me they had specifically first tried to alert editors at The Berkshire Eagle about what allegedly went down last week with USPIS and DEA and that The Eagle showed ZERO interest in the story.
      It was only upon hearing of that alleged USPIS/DEA action that I decided to place a phone call last Saturday(?) to USPIS-Boston requesting confirmation or denial of USPIS personnel being involved in a steroids investigation in Pittsfield.
      Any editor at The Eagle could have done the same thing.
      But The Eagle was apparently not interested in hearing news tips from its readers warning that there was some type of fed sting going down.
      What’s more: The Eagle is plainly not interested in honest dialogue nor opposing points of view.
      For weeks now,The Eagle has forbidden myself and others from posting on its Disqus pages.
      When I login to Disqus, for example, I currently get the message: “The site has blocked you from posting new comments.”
      I’m not sure what the brainiacs at The Eagle think they’ve accomplished since posting on Topix, on blogs, and on PlanetValenti has proven, if anything, far more fruitful than posting anything on The Eagle’s silly Disgus pages.
      Let’s be honest, shall we, had PlanetValenti and Berkshire Blog not broken the story first, when exactly does anyone believe the Joseph Pulitzers and Horace Greeleys at The Eagle would have finally published any report about this Fed probe?
      And does anybody actually believe that The Eagle has gotten out in front of this story?
      SEE:
      http://berkshireeagle.blogspot.com/2011/03/fed-steroid-probe-whos-next.html

      • Conor Berry
        March 26, 2011 at 6:00 am #

        Mr. Heller,

        You posted a somewhat vague story about a USPIS action at a downtown Pittsfield gym. The fed agency declined to comment on what role, if any, they played in “an ongoing investigation.”

        The fed agency didn’t indicate if it was the investigatory body, nor did it identify the target of the investigation, the location of the investigation, or any other relevant facts.

        The Eagle confirmed that one of the two police officers you mentioined was a PPD officer, and we confirmed his name and the disciplinary actions taken against him. We also confirmed that a MSP trooper stationed at the Russell Barracks in neighboring Hampden County had been disciplined for his alleged role in this investigation. A spokesman for the MSP declined to reveal anything further.

        The Eagle has since learned more details about the specific allegations against Kirchner, who apparently is facing some trouble and possibly criminal charges. Close reading of the internal affaris report indicates there’s already a “defendant” in this investigation, suggesting someoone has already been arraigned before a judge. My understanding of the term “defendant” is that it isn’t used until someone has officially been charged with an offense.
        I could be wrong.

        The Eagle would rather plod along, slow and steady, building a sturdy story that’s safe and accurate. Unfortunately, you’ve already established an overarching narrative for this story, yet very few of the elements of your innaugural story were confirmed with anyone who could speak to the issues in an official capactiy. You wrested confirmation of an ongoing USPIS investigation, though no details were provided about the particulars of the investigation.

        So, I thank you for your line about a Pittsfield detective and a state trooper. It was a useful morsel. Since that morsel, however, the story has been significantly advanced by The Eagle and Dan Valenti, who also is a reporter and uses the traditional reporters tools: phone calls (lots of ‘em) and house calls.

        I’m guessing you didn’t hop a red eye to canvass the streets of Pittsfield in search of witnesses to the big drug bust at the health club you cite in your article. The Eagle spoke with individuals, none of whom saw anything akin to a sweep, a raid or a parade, for that matter.

        Again, the paper, after corroborating and confirming information, proceeded cautiously. Sometimes the early bird doesn’t catch a worm. Sometimes the early bird gets pounced on by a cat.

        You do a good job of stirring things up, Mr. Heller, but you haven’t advanced the story other than publishing the initial rumors you heard about from some elusive tipster. And now, apparently, your intent on proving how said tipster contacted The Eagle, but we deliberately avoided pursuing this story.

        Fact: I received information from law enforcement sources that David Kirchner was in some sort of “trouble.” That information came to me earlier this month. After trying to confirm what sort of trouble Kirchner was in, I hit a dead end: Everyone I spoke with told me that Kirchner was not facing criminal charges, and they would not detail the extent of the so-called trouble the officer was in.

        I remained skeptical, but there were no more exploitable angles, so the “story,” as it were, flatlined. There was no story, in other words. Upon reading your blog, I noticed you mentioned a PPD detective. Well, Kirchner’s NOT a detective, but he is assigned to the detective bureau’s drug unit, and I had knowledge that he was apparently in some sort of trouble. I put 2 + 2 together and proceeded with the theory that Kirchner might be the cop you wrote about.

        In short order, my suspicions were confirmed. Hence, my breaking-news story about Kirchner’s purported role in a steroid invest and his subsequent suspension. The trooper issue remains somewhat murky, but I’ll be working that angle Monday morning.

        The story has now advanced again, and again by The Eagle — the lefty rag you love to hate filled with lazy reporters who don’t shake down old ladies on Summer Street.

        Thanks for providing those few crumbs, Mr. Heller, but we’re looking for steak. I’ll save you a piece when I’m done eating.

        CONOR

        • GMHeller
          March 26, 2011 at 8:41 am #

          So Conor,
          Had Dan Valenti (who like me isn’t getting paid a dime for what he’s doing) and I not published what we had when we did, just when do YOU — someone who’s getting a weekly salary to report just this kind of news — think The Berkshire Eagle would finally have gotten around to reporting on the existence of a federal investigation into illegal anabolic steroids sales in Pittsfield?
          April?
          May?
          Ever?
          And would the Pittsfield Police Department have voluntarily notified the public that at least one (if not more) of its personnel had been reprimanded because of this fed steroids investigation?
          And would Mass. State Police have ever let the public know that one of its own had been caught up in the feds’ web?
          Conor, you might start by trying to be at least a little honest with your reading public, because with Internet access it’s far too easy now for far too many people to see through The Berkshire Eagle’s outright ineptitude, especially in its reportage this past year of the big local stories.

          • Conor Berry
            March 26, 2011 at 11:39 am #

            Mr. Heller,

            Not sure where to go at this point. I’ve already admitted that I learned about two cops allegedly embroiled in some sort of investigation from reading your blog. You should be pleased by this revelation. It means that me and your mother read your blog.

            All of my various posts to you were intended to explain what sort of processes are at play when one sets out to write a newspaper article. But apparently you’re not interested in learning about that process, considering you’ve already made your judgments ahead of time. The Vast Left-wing Conspiracy that is The Berkshire Eagle.

            The one thing no newspaper does is hastily post rumors online, then work backwards to prove a pre-established thesis. That’s downright dangerous, unprofessional and potentially damning for all involved. That said, some of what you revealed did serve as a solid foundation for The Eagle, so thanks again.

            By now, I think, I’ve clearly detailed how this story morphed from a G.M. Heller breaking-news post into a legitimate news story with legs. I know this sort of statement pains you, but that’s the way it is in this 24-7 news cycle: An item breaks on an obscure website and various news-gathering outlets clamor to verify that information, develop it, and share it with potentially tens of thousands of electronic readers (in the case of The Eagle’s now-infamous “Turkey Baster” story, I think something like a half-million plus people have viewed that article, but who really cares).

            I’ve credited you, Mr. Heller, for offering up some tasy morsels. We’re now on to the main course, which will require a lot more digestion of facts before advancing the story.

            In the grand scheme of things, though, not a lot of folks other than those immediately impacted by this story are likely to be shocked at allegations of law enforcement officials “juicing” on the job. They’re crime fighters, and sometimes that requires them to be bigger, stronger, faster than the bad guys they chase. I’m not condoning drug use of any sort, I’m merely saying that this story is not all that shocking, or unprecedented, when you look at it diacritically.

            In terms of your abundant theories about a conspiracy to suppress information at The Eagle, I believe I’ve also painstakingly explained — in many, many posts now — that it was not my decision to withhold or sanitize certain salient details of the Stracuzzi matter. Just as you continually issue “challenges” to me, most of which I’ve met, I’ve challenged you to address the relevancy of dredging up someone’s criminal past if, indeed, it’s not truly a criminal past. Someone must be convicted of crimes to qualify as a criminal, and Stracuzzi didn’t go down for the crimes that most irk you. The Eagle broke the news that Stracuzzi was a convicted criminal, and that alone apparently was enough to sink his ship.

            I’ve also asked you, Mr. Heller, to verify whether your brushes with the law resulted in criminal convictions, or just the ignominy of being a chap who’s spent some time behind bars, etc. I’m particularly eager to hear how you rationalize “stalking” someone. To borrow one of your lines, “Still waiting for a response.”

            In terms of “when” The Eagle planned to get around to reporting on this steroid “scandal,” I’ve already answered you clearly and succinctly: We reported about it as soon as we learned about it. How did we learn about it? From G.M. Heller. When did we learn about it? After reading about it on G.M. Heller’s blog spot.

            Thanks again for providing the foundation for my news articles. The info you provided enabled me to make the Kirchner connection, and the rest is history.

            Cheer up, Mr. Heller.

            CONOR

      • just saying
        March 26, 2011 at 4:16 pm #

        @ GH

        If you had not broke the story
        It is doubtful we would know of it. (That said DV says he was working on it)
        As I stated earlier I believe the Eagle would have swept it under the carpet. We have seen evidence of such behaivour for years.
        Well Glenn, keep up the good work. I read your posts on Topix daily, good stuff.

  9. PCP
    March 26, 2011 at 4:10 am #

    @PB Can you provide the date and subcommittee that the information on 331 million was presented? It’s interesting that Mr. Marchetti can’t handle a simple question about a public meeting that he referenced and has to use a minion. OK, PB, you convinced me Mr. Marchetti is part of the problem and not the solution. Nice job.

  10. Dave Martindale
    March 26, 2011 at 6:15 am #

    PETER MARCHETTI says: “We must ensure at all times the safety of the People of Pittsfield.”

    There are “experts” in the field of environmental contamination and public health such as Dr. David Carpenter of SUNY, that tell us that living near this contamination is bad for human health. There are “experts” and our own local pediatricians, that tell us that exposure to PCB, even in small amounts, is unhealthy for children. There are “experts” that tell us that exposure to PCB is linked to numerous health problems in humans. There are “experts” that tell us that from any deposit of PCB, there is a percentage of that material that will volatize into the air and a certain percentage of that material that will degrade towards dioxin. There are “experts” that tell us that PCB is bio-accumulative and moves up the food chain.

    Based on those testimonies, why would we not take an active approach to know more about the problem and take a very aggressive approach to remove these toxins from our environment?

    PETER MARCHETTI says: “we must make sure that we strike a proper balance to make sure that we gather all relevant information to make sure that the safety of all residents is the major focus”

    Is it relevant that most “experts” tell us to remove these toxins from our environment?

    Is it relevant that Hill 78 was once on the national priority list for remediation?

    Is it relevant that the ground water underneath Hill 78 and most of the east side of the city is grossly contaminated with GE toxins?

    Is it relevant that Hill 78 is an unlined landfill and the groundwater underneath it has been tested by GE’s own contractors to contain PCB, dioxin and solvent. Hill 78 is reported to contain drums, transformer carcasses, capacitors and God only knows what else.

    Is it relevant that throughout the area, there are sources of contamination that have only been capped and others that have been purposely overlooked?

    Is it relevant that there has never been a comprehensive study conducted to determine the extent that this contamination has played on the health of the residents of this area? We sit on one of the largest deposits in the country of PCB and the uglies that are always found with PCB, yet we practically know nothing of its local health effects. What we do have are rumors, antidotal stories and fear without the proper and “relevant” knowledge.

    Is it relevant that this area could have easily been placed in Superfund? Due to the then present administration not wanting the stigma of being listed in Superfund, did it avoid that designation. Though, without that designation, the oversight and controls that Superfund affords were sacrificed.

    PETER MARCHETTI says: “We must open a door of communication and foster an approach that will maintain safety.”

    There have been informed people, experts and environmentalists, that for years have been begging and screaming for someone to represent them and take a hard stand and to actually do something substantial about the PCB problem. Often their words and cries have been dismissed or ignored.

    PETER MARCHETTI says: “We must make sure that we continue to advocate for permanent monitoring of both air and ground water for the area.

    Testing has already determined that the ground water is grossly contaminated. There are those that insist that the monitoring done by GE is suspect and historically far from frequent enough.

    PETER MARCHETTI says: “We must continue to follow technology”.

    Technology exists today that can destroy contamination in place. There are emerging technologies that show great promise in low impact remediation. There are existing technologies that can reduce chlorinated compounds to salt and make it basically inert, without having to truck it across the city, county or county and make it someone else’s problem.

    Technology is not putting contamination is a huge pile next to an elementary school or placing 6″ of sand on the bottom of Silver lake and thinking that the problem is solved.

  11. pjmh
    March 26, 2011 at 8:24 am #

    Wow. This is absolutely fascinating. Conor. The Great GMH. Dialogue. Marchetti saying he didn’t get DV’s email (and he didn’t) but I call bullshite on this one Peter because people are hitting this site and you straight up knew the questions, and the deadline.

    Regardless if you are down with DV – The Planet or not, this is where must be if you want to get a pulse on what is going on locally.

    Nice job DV, thank you.

  12. CONCERNED
    March 26, 2011 at 8:25 am #

    I know the story about State Trooper and Local Police Officer is not over, however let it take it course and see. But I have a great idea for Dan, Connor, GM Heller and others that do research. How about finding and writing about how bad steriods are for people. There are so many young (and some not so young) people taking them. Plus they don’t think there is anything wrong with taking them. I had a young adult say to me after mentioning about this story ” I didn’t know steroids were illegal” Maybe something good can come out of this. Thanks

    • Scott Moore
      March 26, 2011 at 12:27 pm #

      Anabolic steroids do a number on the bodies essential organs especially the heart as well as psychological effects such as aggressiveness, hostility, anxiety and suicide. If you want to be in shape a good healthy diet of fruits, vegetables, meat along with good old fashion calisthenics and interval training. There should be more education and information available in schools healthy eating and exercise should be better promoted and of course greater parental involvement in our children’s over all education and health which I believe is at a decline.

      • NFM
        March 26, 2011 at 1:15 pm #

        Please. Compared to alcohol, tobacco, and hamburgers steroids are about as harmful as over-the-counter cough medicine.

        You prudes make me and my 21-inch arms and six-pack abs laugh all the way to my hot girlfriend’s house (the one your collective dough-boy bodies could never handle).

        • Scott Moore
          March 26, 2011 at 2:19 pm #

          Do you pick things up and put them down? I heard it makes your balls shrink too does she pop the zits on your back after???

        • Joetaxpayer
          March 27, 2011 at 4:21 pm #

          I think Lyle Alzado we disagree.

        • just saying
          March 27, 2011 at 9:29 pm #

          @ NFM

          NICHOLS has a great chance @ being the next mayor, please change your posting name as I’m positive that he does not want to be affiliated with your foolish comments.
          21 inch arms? Really, why would someone brag about that?
          Let me know when you start working out, maybe I could train ya.

  13. Lindsey Roberts
    March 26, 2011 at 11:07 am #

    The Heller-Berry dialogues, with Valenti as emcee, have been more interesting that the original stories about steroids bust. If its a debate, winner: CB. Didn’t know Mr. B had such a wicked sense of humor. Bet line about GMH providing crumbs and CB going after red meat, and he says he will save a bite for gmh. In the process, all three men shared behind scenes infor that i think help us understand not just thestory but how the story came to be.

  14. Bonnie
    March 27, 2011 at 4:15 am #

    Ok Connor Berry …. You know what you know now so investigate because there are many more. Do what you said you would do. We are watching and all we want is the truth… Not another stracuzzi cover up

    • Dusty
      March 27, 2011 at 6:11 am #

      yes…and the probation dept cover up….I imagine if you were muzzled on the Stracuzzi story that they took away your keyboard during the Nilan debacle….something tells me there is a Boston connection that protects GOB players in Pittsfield

      • Jim Gleason
        March 27, 2011 at 2:35 pm #

        Yes, they’re called the governor and attorney general.

  15. danbeaut
    March 27, 2011 at 3:49 pm #

    Baloney, the D A has as much power and influence as the Governor or A G. Reporters of the facts are fine, but not when you leave the bases loaded all the time, then BALK!

    • danvalenti
      March 27, 2011 at 4:48 pm #

      At least that’s a way of getting a run home!

  16. danbeaut
    March 27, 2011 at 3:52 pm #

    SUBTERFUGE has reached Palookaville.,circa 1756.