LEE -- Police have charged a local man in connection to a case involving the theft of parts from the Lee Fire Company's antique fire truck.

Paul Nicholas, 43, of Lee, has pleaded not guilty in Southern Berkshire District Court to one count of receiving stolen property valued at $250 or more.

During Nicholas' arraignment on Monday, Judge Robert Murphy released him on personal recognizance and ordered him to stay away from the Lee Fire Department.

Nicholas hasn't been tied to the actual thefts, according to police. Police continue to investigate that aspect of the case.

Lee police allege Nicholas sold two brass couplings from the 1939 Maxim pumper to a Pittsfield metal recycling business. The vintage fire truck had been stored in a locked garage at the town's former landfill.

Lee Fire Chief Alan Sparks said the truck has been moved to an undisclosed, secure location.

While the two couplings were recovered, Officer Adrian Kohlenberger said the other stolen brass and chrome parts, including a radiator with an estimated value of $3,000, remain missing.

The Lee Fire Co. reported two thefts of the truck's equipment on Dec. 24 and Jan. 6. Both times, someone had broken into the garage and stripped the antique of valuable, nearly irreplaceable parts.

Sparks has said the only use for the parts, other than for the fire truck itself, would be to sell them for scrap.

The Lee Fire Co. bought the fire engine from the town several years ago and planned to restore it someday.

The company, consisting of Lee firefighters, is a private organization separate from the town's fire department.

Sparks says publicity about the thefts has prompted one individual to offer some potential replacement parts for the vintage fire engine.

To reach Dick Lindsay:
rlindsay@berkshireeagle.com,
or (413) 496-6233.