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Lawmaker accused of tipping off drug dealers to raids

PITTSFIELD -- A Pittsfield City Councilor pleaded not guilty on Tuesday to charges of conspiracy to violate drug laws and accessory after the fact.

Police allege Paul Capitanio, 57, who represents Ward 3, had an addiction to oxycodone and purchased 10 pills a day. Hes accused of tipped off his drug dealer to an impending raid to maintain his supply.

The dealer, known as #2 in records, then told his supplier #1, who is accused of running drugs from New York City to the Bronx about the raid. The Berkshire County Drug Task Force wiretapped calls between #1 and #2 and recorded conversations discussing Capitanios tips.

Court documents show #2 had correct information about an anticipated raid in eastern New York and knew police were tracking vehicles as part of their investigation.

The task force later rescheduled its raid of #1s home in Stephentown and recovered drugs, ammunition, cell phones, stolen cars and $275,000 in cash among other items.

Capitanio appeared in court Tuesday and pleaded not guilty to the charges against him.

My client doesn't know about any raids. He's not privy to that information so he's just floored that he can just be charged with a crime based upon the allegation of an admitted, known drug dealer, said Timothy Shugrue, Capitanios attorney.

Police say phone records indicate 380 calls between Capitanio and #2. Shugrue said #2 is a customer at East Side Caf, which is owned by Capitanio, and used information overheard at the bar to fabricate a story in an attempt at leniency.

We know who this individual is, this individual owed my client money and my client would call him seven, sometimes eight times a day as a patron of the bar, hey you owe me some money. He'd let him float and then again you owe me money, said Shugrue. He has a back issue and he had been prescribed medication in the past for that back issue, but he does not purchase illegal drugs. If he wants to get medication for his back he can go to his doctor to get that.

Capitanio remains on the city council and has not said if he will take an absence as he fights the charges. Those close to Capitanio continued to express their support of him.

Paul is a pretty well-known guy. He's a soft spoken guy, said City Council President Kevin Sherman. He lets his actions do his talking as far as it goes with council-ing  and things of that nature and that's why I keep saying Im heart sick is how it feels because its something you don't expect to see.

Capitanio is due back in court on October 3.
 
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