(FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE, JUNE 1, 2011) — The Planet has learned of an important development in the Mysterious Case of the Missing Prom Money. We assigned our resident house dick, Paul Drake, to snoop around. Drake came back with a gem.

According to reliable sources who insist on anonymity, PPD officer Russ Quetti let several students into Pittsfield High School late Wednesday night last week. How late? So late it turned to Thursday evening (May 25 into 26). Sources says Quetti did this to enable a student prank. Some prank. About $9,000 ended up being pinched from a locked teacher’s desk.

Sources say Quetti gave the students “a few hours and then were told to leave.”

According to sources, “The next day, it was found that two laptop computers and $10,000 was stolen from the senior class account. It seems that some students stayed or re-entered the East Street PHS building after the allotted time give by officer Quetti.”

On Thursday, sources say police were in the building dusting for fingerprints.

Sources say surveillance tape shows several people walking the hallways after the hours set by Quetti. In other words, they were in the building without authorization, which appears to be breaking and entering. The Pittsfield Police Department had no comment. The Pittsfield School Department had no comment.

This information brings to mind the following questions:

* Why did officer Quetti let the students into the building? By doing so, he gave them authorization to be inside. What did the students do while in there? What responsibility does Quetti have for this egregious lapse in judgment? Clearly, he never should have allowed this, senior pranks or no senior pranks. What started as a joke has turned into a serious case involving grand theft, breaking and entering, and who knows what else.

* Sources in the know insist the amount taken was $10,000 or close to it, not the eight something or the nine something reported by the Boring Broadsheet.

* Will the school principal, Tracey Benson, issue a statement. The Planet will be in touch with him and other officials. They will make a big mistake hiding behind “no comment.”

* Is the city trying to keep mum on this because of Benson’s race? Benson is African American, and The Planet has heard though not confirmed that race may have entered into a decision by officials to try to somehow downplay the robbery. Clearly, as principal, Benson also shoulders responsibility. He has championed student freedom, open campus, and other questionable politicies that essentially give unwarranted license to youngsters who do not have the maturity to handle it properly.

This is a developing story and The Planet will be bringing you updates as we learn more.



  1. Still wondering
    June 1, 2011 at 8:27 am #

    What a mess. Par for the course in Pittsfield.

  2. rick
    June 1, 2011 at 9:35 am #

    even a seasoned cop like russ can be fooled. gotta keep both eyes on these kids today….

  3. PCP
    June 1, 2011 at 10:33 am #

    I don’t believe race has anything to do with it. The principal lives in Williamstown and has no listed number. He was a political appointment with no high school experience at all. Just another case of take the paycheck money and run out of Pittsfield with it. What happened to LIVING IN THE COMMUNITY THAT YOUR STUDENTS DO?

    IF the information is accurate about the police officer, he should be terminated because of pure stupidity. No one in that position should
    even contemplate anything like that. However,did the officer get permission from anyone to do that?

  4. Mike
    June 1, 2011 at 11:39 am #

    I’ve heard nothing but good things about Benson, he came from Herberg so he has experience, and no i dont think race is involved. Just a dumb situation stemming from a lack of judgement by the school resource officer

    • danvalenti
      June 1, 2011 at 12:08 pm #

      Good point made above, though. He lives in Williamstown? That’s not good enough. High-level administrators need to live in Pittsfield OR permit outsiders to run for mayor and council. It’s one of the other. Also, we believe the info about his unlisted phone # is true. We couldn’t find it. Again, not good enough. He also seems to be hiding from this.

    • PCP
      June 1, 2011 at 12:35 pm #


      Herberg is a middle school, and talking with people who actually worked there for the 2 years that Mr. Benson was there as vice principal, lets just say your info may not be accurate. Mr. Benson’s approach toward classroom discipline was not supportive of the teacher. Why was a second vice principal needed ? We didn’t get two for the price of one.

  5. arpaint
    June 1, 2011 at 1:59 pm #

    There is a poll on the internet on how people feel about the way the police chief has handled the use of steroids in his department and the score is 55% say it was handled poorly and 18% say it was handled excellent. When are the people in power going to start to lesson to the public.

    • Jeffrey Turner
      June 1, 2011 at 3:34 pm #

      As if internet polls are worth the electrons they’re printed on.

  6. Jeffrey Turner
    June 1, 2011 at 2:28 pm #

    Have you considered going to the police with your “clues”? A couple unsourced rumors and vacuous aspersions against the principal because he doesn’t run the old “nuns with rulers” (and girls in uniforms) school you would prefer. I suggest “The Joke” would be a better nickname than “The Planet.”

  7. I am me
    June 1, 2011 at 3:16 pm #

    I’m still don’t get why the money would not be in the bank! I agree stealing the money is a serious crime BUT the teacher has alot of blame in this!!! I wouldn’t leave that kind of money in my home let alone a school!

  8. Joetaxpayer
    June 1, 2011 at 4:00 pm #

    Anyone dumb enough to put 10,000 dollars in a locked desk,is asking for it to get stolen.Really a locked desk,must have taken some real expertise to get that opened.Banks have safes i think there more diffcult to get into.

    • danvalenti
      June 1, 2011 at 5:55 pm #

      @ JOE AND I AM ME
      That’s a great question. Why was $10,000 in cash allowed to rest “secure” in an English teacher’s desk? Odd to say the least. The Planet is working on that question and will have information tomorrow.

  9. Mike
    June 1, 2011 at 7:10 pm #

    I dont know who your sources are PCP, but i disagree as do many others but that is just the nature of things. As for living in Williamstown, if you are in Pittsfield 5+ days a week and spending more time here than the place you sleep i believe you can handle the job. Dan, you live in Stockbridge but seem to have quite the insight on Pittsfield. As for being a high level administrator, he isnt mayor or superintendant, his job is within the doors of that school, not city wide. so i support that. All in all this incident really just results from a failure in education systems as a whole, that and a dumb decision to let kids in the school in the dark of night. Oh well, worlds going to end in 2012 anyways.

    • danvalenti
      June 2, 2011 at 1:13 pm #

      By your logic, then, we should open up the mayor’s job to anyone, and waive all residency requirements not just for that position but for any other. At least be consistent, man! Or do you again want it both ways?

  10. Dusty
    June 2, 2011 at 3:34 am #

    Given the freewheeling way Pittsfield runs its government, having a high school principle from out of the city is nothing to be concerned about. Who cares anymore? Just pull the flush handle and let the city go completely down the drain. Let’s just end the pain.

  11. Jeffrey Turner
    June 2, 2011 at 11:46 am #

    Hey Dan, how come none of your inside tipsters told you that the teacher who locked the money in her desk, inside a locked classroom, only did so after she was unsuccessful in trying to reach any of the three people who had keys to the school safe? I know, it goes against your jihad against the teachers of Pittsfield. You’ve got your ill-educated employees and followers to think about, eh?

  12. mike
    June 2, 2011 at 3:58 pm #

    Dan, as i clearly stated above, he is not a citywide employee, he is not responsible to the entire city of pittsfield he is responsible for what goes on inside 1 building, just like the president of the company, think of the superintendant as the CEO. his decisions effect the school, he is just as effected by them as would be a principal from pittsfield, the same could not be said for the mayor. its easy to have it “both ways” when you are talking about two different things. also your post today was about 90% longer than it needed to be, lose the fluff and speculation, give us news!

    • danvalenti
      June 2, 2011 at 7:33 pm #

      Sorry, but you do not convince me. Are you seriously suggesting that the CEO of the city’s flagship high school is only responsible what “what goes on inside one building”? He shepherds students from all over the city, in all wards. A school principal is, by definition, a citywide employee. If you stick to your flimsy argument, then you are advocating a view of higher public ed that is so circumscribed as to be indefensible. You can’t have it both ways when you are talking about city employees whose actions impact the lives of citizens all over town. Nice try, though, and this sort of flabby, fallacious logic probably works with 99.9% out there. The Planet, though, is in the upper part of the .1 percentile when it comes to argumentation.


  1. - June 6, 2011

    Time for a reality check…

    […]talk about creating a buzz, you hit a homerun today[…]…