Monthly Archives: April 2016

Wrong Priorities…

A dear friend of mine, (whom I’ll call Lisa), conducted a background check on her live-in boyfriend.  She did this purely on a whim and was shocked to learn that he’d served time in state prison for burglary and larceny.  In light of this discovery, Lisa wasted no time terminating the relationship.  Regrettably, the boyfriend didn’t handle this rejection well.  He stalked her relentlessly, choosing inappropriate moments to emerge from the shadows.

Each day Lisa became increasingly more rattled.  She eventually sought help from the Pittsfield Police Department, hoping they’d warn the ex boyfriend to keep his distance.  Her irregular work schedule often meant leaving the house very early or arriving home late, always when the neighborhood was dark and deserted.  Her pleas fell on deaf ears.  Police personnel expressed no concern, displaying a flippant attitude toward the situation.  This was disconcerting to a woman living alone, holding down two jobs.  Lisa had been forsaken by the very individuals who had taken an oath to Protect and Serve.

Lurking in the shadows wasn’t enough for this creep so he escalated to random acts of vandalism.  At one point he accessed Lisa’s driveway in the wee hours, inflicting  $1,000 worth of paint and body damage to her vehicle.  Again, Pittsfield police were called.  Again, they did nothing.  Their justification being, “You can’t prove who did the damage.

Not long thereafter the situation reached a boiling point.  Lisa arrived home one sunday, only to discover that the front door to her apartment had been torn from the hinges.  Lying nearby was a shovel belonging to the landlord, last seen in the basement.  An intruder had obviously used it to pry the door from its jamb.  Anticipating the worst, Lisa took a deep breath and cautiously poked her head through the opening.  Amazingly, nothing inside the apartment was broken and no items appeared to be missing.  With a sigh of relief she entered and phoned Pittsfield police.

While waiting for their arrival Lisa conducted a room to room inspection.  On the bedroom floor, barely visible to the naked eye, she discerned boot prints leading directly to an antique bureau.  The middle drawer was ajar, not the way she’d left it.  Lisa reached in, fished around, and withdrew a particular pair of balled up socks.  While uncoiling the ball she knew what to expect.  Her suspicions were quickly validated.  An entire weekend’s tip money – a substantial amount of hard earned cash slated for a morning bank deposit – gone.  Lisa’s blood ran cold.  She’d been using this carefully chosen hiding spot for years and only one other individual knew of its existence.

As Lisa was being interviewed by police she pointed out the boot prints, making sure to convey that only her former live-in boyfriend was privy to the secret cache.  He had obviously robbed her, smashing the door when he discovered that his key no longer worked.  Surely this was sufficient evidence to make an arrest.  Lisa had faith that Pittsfield police would finally get this psycho off the streets and allow her to resume a normal life.

For added insurance Lisa asked that the shovel handle be fingerprinted. Her former boyfriend had a criminal record so his prints would be on file.  The request was denied.  Lisa was told that prints found on the shovel, or anywhere else for that matter, would prove inadmissible.  The boyfriend could simply claim to have left them at some point while living at the address.  With an air of insouciance Pittsfield police abandoned the scene, leaving poor Lisa to contend with no front door and the looming threat of a man whom she was now petrified.

A few days later I persuaded Lisa to contact Pittsfield Police and request that a detective come to her apartment.  I had grown increasingly frustrated at the department’s unwillingness to confront the only viable suspect in this matter.  For over an hour I spoke with the detective, providing a chronological reiteration of dates, times, locations, and specific details regarding the ex boyfriend.  Later that same evening he was picked up by police and brought in for questioning.  At some point during the interogation, for reasons never disclosed, my name and address were divulged.  Minutes later the ex boyfriend was cut loose, criminal charges pending.  Armed with my identity he strolled from the police station, hell-bent on revenge.

The following week I returned home from New York, having completed a laborious two-day work assignment.  I sorted through junk mail, hit “play” on the answering machine, and began the daunting task of unpacking.  And there he was…

Though the message had been left anonymously, the caller’s hollow voice was easy to identify.  The message was succinct, the context was clear.  In exchange for intervening in his personal affairs, Lisa’s ex boyfriend vowed to ruin my life forever.  As I replayed his words in my head I had no way of knowing that a scheme to take me down was already in motion.  Pittsfield police were going to arrest me and unwittingly perform the dirty work for him.

This feat was to be accomplished by exploiting salacious activity that was currently the talk of the town.  An unidentified man had been traipsing around Pittsfield, performing lewd acts in front of women. Lisa’s ex boyfriend solicited the help of three young female acquaintances who were to effectively play into this hype.  Over the span of several weeks each of the three girls would take their turn filing a bogus police report, attesting that they too had been accosted.  In addition, the trio was to surreptitiously leave a trail of breadcrumbs, information of zero credibility that bumbling detectives would eagerly follow to my door.

The plan worked like a charm.  Detectives were so obsessed with apprehending a suspect that they were willing to go anywhere at the bidding of apparent facts, unconcerned about rational probabilities.  I was arrested at my Richmond home on February 23, 2005 and charged with multiple counts of lewd and lascivious behavior.

Though members of the Pittsfield Police Department had made excellent pawns, the ruse had no hope of withstanding courtroom scrutiny.  The three girls never anticipated a subpoena and so their concocted stories crumbled during trial.  In fact, the first two inadvertantly conveyed such vacuous testimony that second assistant district attorney Joan M. McMenemy embarrassingly dropped charges to preclude girl number three from taking the witness stand.

Pittsfield police followed a peculiar code:  They compromised the safety and well-being of my friend, a law-biding citizen who works 50-plus hours per week.  Meanwhile, they aided and abetted a convicted felon who formerly robbed people for a living.  In the midst of this fiasco they caused irreparable damage to me.  With a police force like that, who needs enemies?

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How Many Suspects?

In September of 2004, Pittsfield Massachusetts fell victim to a sudden and alarming increase in salacious criminal activity.  Females were confronted on the streets during evening hours and subjected to sexual solicitation, along with other crude forms of harassment.  Corroborating  witness reports indicated that one culprit was responsible:  A man exposing himself, displaying open and gross lewdness, but taking no threatening action.

That changed in October of 2004 when two women were violently attacked in the same neighborhood.  Forced to fight off their assailant, both victims fled to safety.  The following excerpt is from an October 23rd Berkshire Eagle newspaper article: “Women are being approached on the streets of Pittsfield by an assailant who police say has been getting bolder in his sexual preying since the pattern of encounters started.  Pittsfield Police say there have been nine reports since Sept. 24 of a man approaching women on city streets at night in “high profile” and “well lit” areas.  The man has become more brazen during his last attempts and has attacked the women.”  

Police officials had made it clear, they were hunting one man.  An individual who’d rapidly digressed from exhibitionist to predator.  On October 26th, despite a focused police presence, a third woman was attacked.  As public anxiety grew, it became apparent that the Pittsfield Police Department was impotent.  They had assigned extra patrols, blanketed the area with cops, yet failed miserably.  Gripped by fear, Pittsfield went on lockdown.  Streets were vacated after dark, women traveled in pairs, doors remained locked.

By month’s end, after amassing and analyzing considerable information, police officials conducted a press conference.  The following excerpt is from an October 28th Berkshire Eagle newspaper article: “Investigators are now convinced that a man who violently attacked three women in the city’s southwestern section is not the same person believed to have been behind a string of lewd behavior complaints, police said yesterday. Further witness interviews that gave a more detailed description of the attacker and a review of what appears to be two distinct behavior patterns led investigators to believe that they are looking for two suspects, Pittsfield Police Chief Anthony J. Riello said.”  

Unfortunately, the press conference failed to generate the response officials were looking for.  Citizens grew apprehensive and began to raise questions:  Why had police done an about-face, now suggesting two culprits?  Why were three women attacked before this was ascertained? Are police doing everything possible to keep us safe?  How efficient is our police force if not one, but two serial perpetrators can’t be apprehended?  Will more women be attacked before this is resolved?

At the time of this debacle I resided in Richmond Massachusetts, a small town west of Pittsfield.  I had no criminal history, worked diligently in the private sector, and gave back to the community.  To put it mildly, there was nothing to even remotely suggest me traipsing around Pittsfield menacing women.  Yet somehow I wound up in police custody, charged in a series of public lewdness complaints.  I would eventually be found not guilty on all counts, however, not before irreparable damage ensued.  An overzealous crime scene investigator named Mark Trapani, a man desperate to preserve his reputation, would knowingly fabricate “evidence” and “facts” to make it appear as if a violent sexual predator had been caught.

For this to happen police needed to nonchalantly gloss over one important fact: They were now contradicting their contradiction.  On October 23rd they announced that one individual had perpetrated both the lewd behavior incidents and the violent attacks.  Then on October 28th, they declared that two men were being sought.  But now, four months later, police claimed that one culprit was entirely responsible. What happened to: “Investigators are now CONVINCED that a man who violently attacked three women in the city’s southwestern section IS NOT the same person believed to have been behind a string of lewd behavior complaints…”

The violence in October of 2004 had erupted quickly, three assaults in just six days.  Their close proximity to each other confirmed the work of one assailant, an individual living in the vicinity who knew the area well. Then, as suddenly as the violence began, it stopped.  Why?  No one can be sure.  Maybe the culprit moved away, or perhaps he’d been apprehended in October for an unrelated crime.

Four months later Pittsfield law enforcement was still baffled, unable to apprehend their assailant.  No one took the failure more personally than Investigator Mark Trapani.  But soon after, I was wrongfully arrested for the lewd behavior incidents and his prayers were answered.  Refusing to admit defeat, Trapani became enamored at the prospect of pinning the three attacks on me.  He rationalized that anyone who possessed the mindset to perform lewd acts in public must surely possess the mindset to violently attack women.  This would provide him with a soul, any soul…didn’t matter, whom he could sacrifice to feather his nest.

Pinning both the lewd behavior and violent assaults on me would conveniently wrap up everything with one giant bow.  But there was a problem, I’d been out of Berkshire County on a work assignment for at least one of the assaults.  Trapani circumvented this discrepancy by charging me in one assault only, hoping local media would focus on the apprehension of an assailant and not his disregard for two unsolved attacks.

It required six days for Trapani to pull off my bogus arrest because the fabrication and manipulation of forensic evidence takes time.  Finally, on March 1, 2005 he accomplished this feat by orchestrating the biggest and most shameful fingerprint ruse ever perpetrated by the Pittsfield Police Department…