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Alleged leader of auto insurance fraud ring based in New York indicted on 29 more charges

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

The alleged leader of an auto insurance fraud ring has been indicted on 29 new charges. Lefen “Helen” Chen, 55, of Flushing, N.Y., is scheduled to be arraigned Wednesday on those charges of insurance fraud, perjury and conspiracy. Chen is accused of being the ringleader of a New York-based insurance scam. “The indictments stem from the largest car insurance fraud investigation and prosecution in western Massachusetts history,” said Mary Carey, …

Proposed zoning amendment requiring affordable housing prompts disagreement in Amherst

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

AMHERST — With a mixed-use redevelopment project proposed to replace the Amherst Carriage Shops, proponents of increasing affordable housing in town are seeking to leverage developers’ requests for special permits by mandating that a portion of the units be set aside for low- and moderate-income families. A zoning amendment scheduled for consideration by fall Town Meeting on Nov. 5 aims to clarify a …

Stephanie Solivan denies charges resulting from alleged beating of woman at Meadowbrook Apartments; warrant issued for Veronica Lisenby

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

NORTHAMPTON — Police arrested one city woman and are seeking another who they believe were responsible for dragging a third woman from her home at Meadowbrook Apartments in Florence on Sunday and beating her with a chain. Stephanie A. Solivan, 26, of 241 Jackson St., Apt. 4B, pleaded not guilty in Northampton District Court Wednesday to charges of assault and battery with a …

Northampton Police break up underage party thanks to extra patrol funded by grant

Monday, October 20, 2014

NORTHAMPTON — City police out on “party patrol” broke up an underage party Friday night as part of a new grant-funded effort to combat underage drinking. The $5,979 state grant the city received is paying for overtime so officers can work extra shifts when they will target underage …

Rollover accident injures driver, closes part of Bay Road in Amherst while power lines repaired

Monday, October 20, 2014

AMHERST — A one-car rollover crash near 883 Bay Road injured the driver and sheared a utility pole Monday afternoon, according to police. The accident about 4:45 p.m. closed the road from the Belchertown line to the intersection …

Area court news

Monday, October 20, 2014

Hatfield ■ Matthew Obrzut, 21, of Ludlow, pleaded not guilty in Northampton District Court on Monday to a charge of assault and battery on a family member. According to court documents, Obrzut was arrested in the parking lot of the Hatfield Elementary School at 5:30 p.m. Saturday after …

Two staff houses evacuated at Smith College after excavator hits natural gas line

Monday, October 20, 2014

NORTHAMPTON — Six people were evacuated from two houses for Smith College staff when an excavator working nearby on Paradise Road punctured an underground natural gas line. Northampton Deputy Fire Chief Timothy McQueston said the damage to the two-inch pipe was reported at 12:04 p.m. and Paradise Road …

Area police news

Monday, October 20, 2014

Amherst ■ Cindy A. Drake, 49, of 189 Michael Sears Road, Belchertown, was arrested at 1:16 a.m. Sunday on West Street on charges of operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol, negligent operation of a motor vehicle to endanger, and failure to use care in …

Second suspect in house break on Mount Warner Road in Hadley arrested in Montague

Monday, October 20, 2014

HADLEY — The second man police allege was involved in a break at a Hadley home late Wednesday night was arrested Saturday in Montague, police said. Alejandro Arean-Raines, 19, of Montague, was arrested at 12:30 p.m. Saturday on a warrant and transferred to Hadley Police. According to the …

UMass student Chloe Malast found dead in dorm; no foul play suspected

Monday, October 20, 2014

AMHERST — A University of Massachusetts student died at McNamara dormitory in the Sylvan residential area Sunday night, according to the Northwestern district attorney’s office. A campuswide email sent Monday afternoon informed students, faculty and staff that Chloe …

UMass student arrested in connection with racist graffiti; cases involve new notes, not earlier reports

Monday, October 20, 2014

BELCHERTOWN ­— A University of Massachusetts Amherst student who admitted to police that he wrote racist notes on a dorm room door earlier this month has withdrawn from school and is remorseful, according to his lawyer. The graffiti …

Malfunctioning traffic signals snarl traffic at intersection of Route 9 and Damon Road Sunday

Sunday, October 19, 2014

NORTHAMPTON — Malfunctioning signals briefly caused a traffic jam on the Northampton side of the Coolidge Bridge Sunday afternoon. Northampton Police Sgt. Josef Barszcz said police received a report that the traffic signals at the intersection of Route 9, Damon Road and the I-91 northbound exit ramp were …

Cause of South Hadley fire that killed nine dogs remains under investigation

Saturday, October 18, 2014

SOUTH HADLEY — Officials continue to investigate a kitchen fire Friday in a house at 5 Grandview Road that killed nine dogs and displaced one woman. No cause of the fire had been determined as of Sunday evening. …