Trial date set for former Pittsfield City Councilor Paul Capitanio


PITTSFIELD -- A former city councilor who allegedly tipped off a drug dealer about an upcoming police raid is scheduled to go to trial in November.

Police and prosecutors say in April 2013, Paul Capitanio, 58, a Parkside Avenue resident, tipped off a drug dealer from whom he allegedly was buying pain pills.

During a Berkshire County Drug Task Force wiretap investigation into the activities of alleged area drug kingpin Joshua Stegemann, police said they intercepted a phone conversation between Stegemann and another unnamed dealer. During the conversation it's alleged the dealer told Stegemann that a "councilman friend" had tipped him off about upcoming drug raids.

Police say they later obtained cellphone records showing there were 380 phone calls between the drug dealer and Capitanio from March 4 to April 30 of last year.

According to a probable cause report, the dealer told police he was speaking of Capitanio during that conversation. At the time, Capitanio was a city councilor representing Ward 3. He did not seek re-election.

On April 30, 2013, there was a multi-agency raid at Stegemann's home in Stephentown, N.Y., involving the federal Drug Enforcement Agency, the Berkshire County Drug Task Force, and New York and Massachusetts State Police. The raid allegedly turned up more than 700 grams of cocaine, a pound of heroin, thousands of illegal prescription pills, two pistols and a shotgun and close to $300,000 in cash found buried in coolers on the property. Police said they discovered stolen vehicles and landscaping equipment worth more than $80,000 -- some stolen from Massachusetts -- as well.

Stegemann, a former Pittsfield resident, later told DEA agents he had been worried about a possible bust, according to the report. Police said he nearly escaped into a nearby field that night.

It is not alleged that Capitanio knew or had any personal communication with Stegemann.

Capitanio was in Berkshire Superior Court on Thursday for a pretrial hearing on his case. He has denied single counts of conspiracy to possess oxycodone and accessory after the fact to distribute oxycodone.

His attorney, Timothy J. Shugrue, told the court he plans to file a motion to dismiss in the case.

Shugrue said he has received 38 CDs and DVDs of discovery material and has been working his way through them.

A final pretrial conference date has been set for Oct. 21 with the case set for trial a month after that.

Shugrue has said his client denies the allegations, including those that he is addicted to oxycodone. He said Capitanio is not on any of the wirertap recordings.

Capitanio remains free on $500 bail pending the outcome of his case.

Meanwhile, the federal case in New York against Stegemann is slowly making its way through the judicial system.

He has denied single counts of possession of controlled substances with the intent to distribute, possession of firearms and ammunition by a prohibited person and possession of firearms in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime.

Motions to suppress evidence taken in the raid and to dismiss charges have been filed in the case.

Stegemann's attorney, Elizabeth J. Quigley, asserts that the search warrants were constitutionally overbroad and exceeded their scope by including searches conducted on property not covered by the warrants. The wiretap warrants were also defective, said the attorney.

Stegemann is currently being housed without bail in Warren County Jail in Lake George, N.Y.

No trial date has been set in Stegemann's case.

To reach Andrew Amelinckx:,
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