Berkshire District Attorney David Capeless To Retire
Updated: Friday, March 2, 2018
Berkshire District Attorney David Capeless announced at a morning press conference Thursday that he was going to be retiring from his position as of March 15th and that his first assistant Paul Caccaviello will be taking over. He made the announcement from the DA’s Office at the corner of West and North Streets in Pittsfield:
Capeless, at times, fought back tears, as he spoke about his rewarding and sometimes taxing career as a prosecutor and as District Attorney, and about his confidence in Caccaviello:
Paul Caccaviello took a moment to speak as well when asked his thoughts on taking over for Capeless:
Now many, including us here at the Berkshire News Network, thought that the announcement would be in regards to remains that were found in a wooded area of Hatfield, Massachusetts on Wednesday morning. It was not. Friends and family of Jo Ringer, the Clarksburg woman that has been missing since last March, believe that the remains are hers. Some members of the Ringer family were at the briefing Thursday morning and Capeless briefly touched on the subject after being prompted by one of the reporters in attendance:
Capeless also said Thursday that he has asked to be, and was assured by Caccaviello, that when he steps down on the 15th, he will be sworn in as a Special Assistant District Attorney so that he can handle the appeals in the triple murder case from 2011. In that case, Adam Lee Hall, David Chalue, and Caius Veiovis were convicted for the kidnapping and murder of David Glasser, Edward Frampton and Robert Chadwell of Pittsfield.
The full release from the Berkshire District Attorney's Office can be read Below:
Berkshire District Attorney David F. Capeless announced today that he will be retiring, effective March 15th. Governor Charlie Baker will be issuing a media release today announcing that he will appoint Berkshire First Assistant District Attorney Paul Caccaviello as Capeless’s successor. Caccaviello will be sworn into office on the 15th in a ceremony to take place at the Berkshire Superior Court.
Capeless stated, “I had determined some time ago that I did not wish to seek reelection in the Fall, and when I confided this to Paul, I was pleased when he said he would take on the campaign to succeed me. I have great respect for Paul’s character and abilities, and he has the experience and trust of our colleagues in law enforcement to give me the confidence that the Berkshire District Attorney’s Office’s legacy of fair and even-handed justice will continue under his watch. Public safety in Berkshire County will remain in safe and capable hands, I assure you.”
“I am taking this step now because I want Paul to be able to run for election as the District Attorney, as I did fourteen years ago, and I want to thank Governor Baker and Lieutenant Governor Polito for their careful consideration and their confidence that Paul is the right person for the job.”
Paul J. Caccaviello is a veteran prosecutor of 28-years’ experience, serving the last 13 as First Assistant. In 2008, Caccaviello was honored as the Prosecutor of the Year by the Massachusetts District Attorneys Association.
Capeless went on to add, “I am proud of what I have accomplished in my career, and I leave with my head held high, though my shoulders may have sagged a bit. I am proud of the unity and cooperative efforts of law enforcement in Berkshire County which I have fostered and led since taking office. Each of our County’s communities, large and small – from Pittsfield to Peru, New Marlborough to North Adams - has benefited from those efforts and it is a model of collaboration that is the envy of other law enforcement agencies within the Commonwealth and beyond.”
“I am equally proud of the creation of the Office’s Community Outreach & Education Program and its excellent educational and prevention programs, presently operating in all the County’s schools, engaging students from pre-kindergarten through high school. Those programs develop more thoughtful, self-assured young adults who will provide a more positive future for Berkshire County. These are important and effective efforts that I hope and expect will continue long after my departure.”
“I am obviously proud of the many difficult and notorious cases which I have prosecuted. Justice has been gained and the public trust in our laws and court system has been enhanced by their outcomes, but that has been achieved only with the assistance of the many investigators, advocates, and fellow prosecutors who have worked diligently beside me. I cannot thank them enough, and I hope I have already done so as best I could.”
“I am most proud, however, of the people who are the Berkshire District Attorney’s Office. They are - all of them - talented, professional, ethical, dedicated and hard-working, and the greatest reward of my career has been to work with and lead them.”
“Prosecution is not an easy job, and too often our successes are taken for granted, and recognition of the professionalism and commitment required for the job are too often wanting. To be a prosecutor means choosing public service over financial reward, too often choosing satisfaction from doing an important job well over the ability to secure a mortgage or get by without a second job. But those choices were made by each member of my Office, and I want to take this opportunity to thank them publicly for all that they have done and, I have no doubt, will continue to do for many years.”
David F. Capeless was appointed Berkshire District Attorney by Governor Mitt Romney in March of 2004 to succeed former District Attorney Gerard Downing, who died unexpectedly in December of 2003, and was elected District Attorney in a special election in November of 2004. Capeless has been re-elected to full, four-year terms in 2006, 2010 and 2014, running unopposed in the last two elections.
Capeless has been a prosecutor for his entire legal career - over thirty-five years – the last fourteen as Berkshire District Attorney, having previously served as the Berkshire First Assistant District Attorney from 1991 to 2004, and before that as an Assistant District Attorney in Middlesex County from 1982 to 1990.
Capeless has successfully prosecuted a number of notorious cases, including serial child-murderer Lewis Lent, who kidnapped and murdered thirteen–year-old Jimmy Bernardo of Pittsfield, and one of the earliest of the nation’s school shooting incidents, the 1992 shootings at Simon’s Rock College in Great Barrington by student Wayne Lo, in which a student and faculty member were murdered and several students wounded.
Capeless also successfully prosecuted the murder of 17-year-old Krystal Hopkins of Pittsfield by Adam Rosier, which resulted in a 1997 landmark decision by the Mass. Supreme Judicial Court, the first appellate decision in the nation which recognized the use of the STR [short tandem repeat] method of DNA testing, the method which remains the industry standard for forensic testing of evidence.
Capeless also successfully argued the appeal of a judge’s order for a DNA sample from several suspects in the case of the rape of a severely retarded woman resulting in her pregnancy. In that case, the Supreme Judicial Court set the landmark standard for determining when a grand jury can compel evidence from a suspect.
Capeless most recently tried and convicted Adam Lee Hall, David Chalue and Caius Veiovis for the kidnapping and murders of witnesses David Glasser, Edward Frampton and Robert Chadwell of Pittsfield, securing First Degree Murder convictions and multiple life sentences without parole for all three defendants, despite no identified crime scene or weapons, or any forensic evidence directly linking the defendants to the brutal crimes.
In 1997, Capeless was honored as the Prosecutor Of The Year by the Massachusetts District Attorneys Association, and has twice served as President of the Mass. District Attorneys Association.
During his fourteen years as District Attorney, Capeless has focused the attention of the county’s law enforcement on cooperative investigative efforts to combat guns and violence and the growing problem of opioid addiction. Capeless has been a recognized leader in the Commonwealth in raising public awareness of the dangerous connection between the over-prescribing of opioid pain medications and the spread of heroin, fentanyl, and deaths due to overdoses. He served as the District Attorney’s representative on the Commonwealth’s Oxycontin And Heroin Commission, which issued a report in 2009 calling for legislative reform in medical and insurance practices, and has personally participated over the past twelve years in Berkshire Health Systems’ Pain Management Project, raising awareness among the local medical community of the dangers of the over-prescribing of opioid pain medications and educating them on best practices for prescribing and after-care services to avoid problems with addiction or misuse.
Capeless was appointed by Governor Baker in 2015 to serve on the five-member Board of the Massachusetts Office Of Victim Assistance, which ensures supportive services for victims of crimes and their families through policy development, legislative initiatives, fund administration and training.
Capeless also serves as an MDAA representative on the Medico-Legal Commission, which provides guidance and oversight of the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, and on the Commonwealth’s Forensic Sciences Board, which advises the State Police Crime Laboratory on matters of policy and administration.
Capeless has made the safety and well-being of the county’s youth a priority and has taken on a leadership role in the fight to curb underage drinking drug abuse and violence among young people. Under the direction of Capeless, the District Attorney’s Community Outreach and Education Program works in partnership with schools and delivers education and enrichment programs for students, staff and parents focusing on crime prevention, school safety and student wellness. Those programs include a county-wide bullying prevention initiative, a peer leadership program for middle-schoolers and an internet safety awareness program for elementary students. The District Attorney’s Office has recently undertaken to bring to Berkshire County schools a substance abuse survey and interview program - SBIRT (Screening, Brief Intervention and Referral for Treatment) - in conjunction with the County’s school health and counseling departments, and a nationally-recognized, evidence-based program for middle-schoolers - LifeSkills, which provides interactive lessons in drug resistance, personal self-management and general social skills.
Capeless also serves as a strong advocate for the rights and protection of seniors and collaborates with Berkshire Sheriff Thomas Bowler and local police on the TRIAD Program for seniors and with Elder Services of the Berkshires to enhance senior safety.
Capeless is a native of Pittsfield. He is the son of former Pittsfield Mayor Robert Capeless, and the grandson of former State Representative Matthew Capeless.
Capeless is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania and Boston College Law School. He is 65 years old, and lives in West Stockbridge with his wife, Betsy, and his two sons, Charlie (22) and Sam (20).