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Police / Fire / Courts

‘The stars aligned’; reflected sunlight the cause of Amherst bedroom fire

Saturday, December 20, 2014

AMHERST — It wasn’t electrical. The residents weren’t smokers. The fire began in a home on South East Street seemingly out of nothing, consumed an old chair, and then sputtered out after damaging a nearby wall. The chair was clearly where the fire started, according to Amherst Fire Chief Walter “Tim” Nelson, who headed up the investigation team, but the rest was a mystery. “There wasn’t anything left in the …

Claim of rapes roils swim community

Friday, December 19, 2014

Sitting in a coffee shop in Southampton, Monica Strzempko of Westfield recalled when her now 20-year-old daughter, Anna, was a happy, popular 13-year-old who was good at most everything — especially swimming. She had Olympic aspirations and was training hard with the Greater Holyoke YMCA Vikings club, an elite team that drew swimmers …

Two men arraigned on weapons, drug charges after Hatfield traffic stop

Friday, December 19, 2014

NORTHAMPTON — Two men from New York and Vermont were held on $25,000 bail after they denied weapons, drug, and motor vehicle charges in Northampton District Court on Friday, a day after they were arrested during a traffic stop in Hatfield. Anthony Brundage, 37, of Staten Island, New York, pleaded not guilty to charges of two counts of possession of a firearm without …

Uber vows more focus on safety

Thursday, December 18, 2014

LOS ANGELES — Uber promises to focus on rider safety amid increasing concerns that its drivers are not adequately screened for past criminal convictions. In a blog post Wednesday, Uber’s head of global safety defended the company’s safety …

Body of woman found in Millers River in Orange

Thursday, December 18, 2014

ORANGE (AP) — Emergency crews in north-central Massachusetts have found the body of a 52-year-old woman who had been missing since Tuesday. Authorities say the body of Cynthia Ayer of Orange was found in the Millers River in Orange Thursday afternoon. It’s not clear how Ayer died. The …

Store owner arrested in alleged food stamp scheme

Thursday, December 18, 2014

SPRINGFIELD (AP) — Authorities say the owner of a Springfield convenience store and market has been arrested in connection with the unlawful use of Electronic Benefit Transfer cards and food stamps. Ten illegal gaming machines also were found. The Attorney General’s Office says state police arrested 55-year-old Julio …

Northampton swears in six new police officers, begins return to fully-staffed department

Thursday, December 18, 2014

NORTHAMPTON — Six new full-time officers were sworn in Thursday, joining five current members of the Northampton Police Department who were promoted during a ceremony celebrating what Chief Russell P. Sienkiewicz described as progress after a “dark time” …

Authorities still not releasing name of driver in fatal Belchertown accident

Thursday, December 18, 2014

BELCHERTOWN — An investigation of the single-car crash Sunday morning that killed an 18-year-old Lancaster woman and seriously injured the 23-year-old driver remains under investigation. No additional details about the fatal accident, including the name of the driver, are available, according to the Northwestern district attorney’s office. Spokeswoman …

Area court news

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Goshen ■ Jason Tomaskowicz, 33, of 102 Bissell Road, pleaded not guilty Wednesday in Northampton District Court to charges of assault on a family or household member and malicious destruction of property over $250. According to court records, police arrested Tomaskowicz around 5:30 p.m. Tuesday after determining that …

Suspicious package that closes Rocky Hill Road in Hadley contains typewriter

Thursday, December 18, 2014

HADLEY — A section of Rocky Hill Road was closed for nearly 40 minutes Thursday morning while state and local police investigated a suspicious package left at a resident’s home that turned out to contain a typewriter. Police received a report of a suitcase left on a resident’s …

Guy Bush Jr. of New York indicted on charges including rape of a child in South Hadley

Thursday, December 18, 2014

NORTHAMPTON — A New York man accused of raping a girl in South Hadley a dozen years ago when she was approximately 5 and 6 years old will be arraigned Jan. 13. A Hampshire County grand jury indicted Guy Bush Jr., 45, of Grand Isle, New York, Tuesday …

Area police news

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Amherst ■ Laquan L. Wood, 21, of 170 East Hadley Road, Unit 106, was arrested at 10:22 p.m. Wednesday at the intersection of South Pleasant and Snell streets on charges of operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol, negligent operation of a motor vehicle to …

Governor’s Council OKs three clemency requests

Thursday, December 18, 2014

BOSTON — The Governor’s Council on Wednesday approved the first clemency requests in more than a decade in Massachusetts, voting to commute the prison sentence of a woman convicted of drug charges and grant pardons to two men who had sought to expunge from their records crimes that …