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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 …

Afghan soldier who fled US training sent to Canada

Thursday, December 18, 2014

BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) — One of three Afghan military officers detained after fleeing a U.S. training exercise to avoid returning to Afghanistan has been allowed to make a refugee claim in Canada, his attorney said Wednesday. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement turned over Capt. Mohammad Nasir Askarzada to …

Couple sues Whole Foods, ranch over son’s death

Thursday, December 18, 2014

BOSTON (ap) — A Massachusetts husband and wife who blame their 8-year-old son’s death on the ground beef they bought at a Whole Foods Market have sued the supermarket chain and the ranch they say produced and processed the meat. Melissa and Andrew Kaye, of Braintree, said in …

Driver to be charged in crossing guard’s death

Thursday, December 18, 2014

WEST SPRINGFIELD (AP) — Police say a driver who struck and killed a West Springfield school crossing guard on Monday will be charged in the accident. West Springfield Police Sgt. Hubert Rees said Wednesday that a 61-year-old Agawam woman will be charged with motor vehicle homicide by negligence. …

Former Pelham Police Chief Edward Fleury indicted on firearms charges resulting from Belchertown incident

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

NORTHAMPTON — A former Massachusetts police chief acquitted of charges connected to the 2008 death of an 8-year-old boy at a gun show has been indicted on unrelated firearms charges. The Republican reports that a grand jury Tuesday handed down an indictment charging ex-Pelham Chief Edward Fleury with …

Family, friends rally to help Chloe Rombach as she recovers after being struck in Northampton crosswalk

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

NORTHAMPTON — The family and friends of Chloe Rombach, the 22-year-old city woman critically injured when struck by a vehicle in a Bridge Street crosswalk last week, have started an online fundraiser to aid in the expenses associated …

Feds charge 14 in 2012 meningitis outbreak

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

BOSTON — Mold and bacteria were in the air and on workers’ gloved fingertips. Pharmacists used expired ingredients, didn’t properly sterilize them and failed to test drugs for purity before sending them to hospitals and pain clinics. Employees …

Lefen ‘Helen’ Chen pleads guilty in insurance fraud ring, may face deportation

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

NORTHAMPTON — A woman from Taiwan may face deportation after she admitted in Hampshire Superior Court Wednesday that she led a scheme that defrauded insurance companies out of hundreds of thousands of dollars over six years. Lefen “Helen” Chen, 56, of Flushing, New York, accepted a plea agreement …

Area police news

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Amherst ■ A resident of an East Pleasant Street home reported at 4:39 p.m. Tuesday that the word “molly” was spray-painted on the side of the building. The resident told police the vandalism may be linked to a disturbance Dec. 5 in downtown Amherst. Easthampton ■ Shawn M. …

Serena Desantis admits role in Christmas Eve theft of donated items from Unitarian Society in Northampton

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

NORTHAMPTON — A Holyoke woman admitted in court Wednesday that she took part in the theft last Christmas Eve of items donated to a Northampton church. Serena Desantis, 34, pleaded guilty to larceny over $250 in Hampshire Superior Court a day after her accomplice in the crime also …

Trial date set in lawsuit filed by former Frontier Regional employee alleging racial discrimination

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

SOUTH DEERFIELD — A trial date has been set for a discrimination lawsuit filed against Frontier Regional School by a former information technology professional who was fired after he alleged he was treated unfairly by co-workers. Sandy Moya of Holyoke, has sued the school for racial discrimination, national …