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Pittsfield Man Arrested For Armed Robbery Early Monday Morning

Staff Reports
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — A city man was arrested for armed robbery early Monday morning.
 
Police say officers responded to the Stop & Shop parking lot on Merrill Road shortly after midnight for the report. An employee of a local business arrived to make a night drop at Citizens Bank when Benjamin Robertson, 21, allegedly brandished a gun and demanded the money bag. 
 
Robertson then allegedly took off running through Coltsville and Police K9 Rango began tracking the suspect. Robertson was allegedly found with a "realistic looking BB gun" and the moneybag hiding on the property of a Crane Avenue business. 
 
Robertson was arrested and charged with armed and masked robbery and arraigned in Central Berkshire District Court on Monday. Massachusetts State Police also responded and assisted Pittsfield officers.
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Multiple Fires Set in North Adams School

Staff Reports
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Multiple fires were apparently deliberately set throughout Sullivan School on Friday night. 
 
"There was more than one fire on more than one level," Fire Director Stephen Meranti said late Friday after firefighter has spent some two hours tracking down the blazes and ventilating the multilevel elementary school.
 
The state fire marshal was called to investigate and state police were also at the scene. Meranti said nothing was being ruled out. However, he was sure it was not electrical — the department had been responding to a number of calls related to alarms and wires after heavy rains blew through in the afternoon.
 
Mayor Richard Alcombright, who was at the scene for a time, said he would be awaiting the results of the investigation by the state fire marshal and the city's police force, and will assess the damage.
 
The call came in shortly after 8 p.m. of smoke on the roof of the school, which is tucked away off Kemp Avenue. That was confirmed, according to scanner reports, by a member of the Stamford, Vt., Fire Department. 
 
Heavy smoke could be seen through the windows of the lobby. When the doors were opened and the windows in the cafetorium smashed, dark smoke billowed out of the building about 8:30. 
 
No flames could be seen from the outside but firefighters found and doused fires as they searched the interior of the vacant building. 
 
"It's very manpower intensive, it's not a very big fire but because of the size of the building and trying to search the entire building, and try to extinguish the fires as they went along. it was a pretty involved operation," Meranti said.
 
Firefighters used three thermal imagers — one man holding and others on the team following — to track down the fires in the smoke-filled building. 
 
The four-story masonry building, constructed in the mid-1960s as East School to answer the city's baby boom, has been empty for nearly two years since the opening of Colegrove Park Elementary School. The $51,000-square-foot structure is for sale but has been used for storage by the School Department. 
 
The School Department has been securing the building and there has been a number of acts of vandalism in breaking windows. Those are have been boarded up but Meranti said there were a couple of spots on Friday night that someone could have gotten into the building. 
 
There were also four fire extinguishers lined up on the left pole of the lobby portico. Those were there when firefighters arrived and Meranti said it is not known who left them. 
 
The fire director said some of the materials still inside the school were burning in the fires. The largest was in the cafetorium in the front of the building where stacks of boxed up ceiling tiles were stored by the stage. 
 
He said there was a lot of smoke damage in the building and that the department was still forcing smoke for affected areas. A lot of the damage, particularly in the cafetorium, was to the materials being stored there. 
 
Once the extent of the situation was realized, all off-duty firefighters were called in and Adams Fire Department covered the city's station. 
 
North Adams Ambulance Service provided water and supplies; Clarksburg sent a truck to fill air bottles.
 
"We went through a lot of bottles because there's a lot of areas to cover," Meranti said. 
 
He said firefighters would be at the building for the rest of the night. It was not clear when more information would be available. 
 
"This is an active investigation," he said. 
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Superior Court Briefs: May 3 - May 5

Staff Reports
Cases heard before Judge Edward McDonough on Wednesday, May 3.
 
Gabrielle Garzone, 23, of Pittsfield pleaded guilty to single counts of manufacturing cocaine, conspiracy to violate drug laws, possession of heroin, possession of suboxone, and possession of trazadone in connection with the execution of a search warrant on March 3.
 
She also pleaded guilty to two counts of conspiracy to violate drug laws. Garzone conspired with others to sell cocaine and heroin in Berkshire County between January 20, 2015, and March 6, 2015.
 
She was given a two-year suspended sentence at the Berkshire County House of Correction on the manufacturing cocaine and conspiracy charges. She was placed on probation on the others.
 
Sasha Santiago, 27, of Springfield pleaded guilty to two counts of conspiracy to violate drug laws and single counts of possession of heroin with intent to distribute, and possession of cocaine with intent to distribute in relation to a motor vehicle stop in North Adams on March 2, 2015. 
 
She pleaded guilty to two counts of conspiracy to violate drug laws. She had conspired with others to sell cocaine and heroin in Berkshire County between January 20, 2015 and March 6, 2015.
 
She was sentenced to concurrent two and a half years at the Hampden County House of Correction on the possession of heroin and possession of cocaine charges. She was placed on probation on the others.
 
Deveron Wicks, 29, of Springfield pleaded guilty to two counts of conspiracy to violate drug laws and single counts of trafficking in heroin, and trafficking in cocaine in connection with a motor vehicle stop in North Adams on March 2, 2015.
 
He pleaded guilty to two counts of conspiracy to violate drug laws. He conspired with others to sell cocaine and heroin in Berkshire County between January 20, 2015 and March 6, 2015.
 
He pleaded guilty to two counts of possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony, and single counts of possession of heroin with intent to distribute, and possession of cocaine with intent to distribute in connection with the execution of a search warrant in Springfield on March 2, 2015.
 
Wicks was sentenced to seven to 12 years at the Massachusetts Correctional Institution at Cedar Junction on the trafficking and the conspiracy to violate drug laws charges.
 
He was given five to seven years on the firearm charge and concurrent time at the Berkshire County House of Correction on the other charges.
 
Cases heard before Judge Edward McDonough on Friday, May 5.
 
Damian Ives, 42, of Pittsfield pleaded guilty to six counts of armed robbery while masked, and single counts of assault by means of a dangerous weapon, and resisting arrest in connection with a series of robberies in Pittsfield between December 23, 2015, and January 24, 2016. 
 
He pleaded guilty to two counts of threatened use or presence of explosives, chemical, or biological agents causing evacuation or disruption, and a single count of threatened use or presence of explosives, chemical or biological agents. Those were in connection with phoning several bomb threats on January 7, 2016.
 
He was ordered to serve concurrent five to seven years at the Massachusetts Correctional Institution at Cedar Junction on the armed robbery charge and concurrent time at the Berkshire County House of Correction on the other charges.
 
Kelly McLennan, 51, of Pittsfield pleaded guilty to a single count of larceny from a building in connection with the theft of money from Zenner's Package and Variety Store in Pittsfield on April 22, 2016. 
 
She was ordered to serve 90 days of a two-year sentence at the Hampden County House of Correction and placed on probation for 18 months.
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Pittsfield Man Arrested For Groping Woman

Staff Reports
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — A city man was arrested for inappropriately grabbing a woman on Robbins Avenue, according to police.
 
But it isn't clear whether he is responsible for other assaults reported in recent weeks.
 
Edward Jennings, 30, of Pittsfield was arrested on Tuesday after allegedly grabbing a woman as he walked past her. Police say at about 1:45 p.m., officers were called to the Christian Center for the reported assault and later found Jennings walking on Linden Street.
 
"The victim positively identified this individual as being the one responsible for assaulting her. The suspect, Edward Jennings of Pittsfield, was arrested and charged with one count of indecent assault and battery," wrote Capt. Jeffrey Bradford in a release issued Wednesday afternoon.
 
Police say at this point, it isn't known whether Jennings is responsible for four other reports of groping or accosting women. In recent weeks, olice have received multiple reports of women being groped while out walking or running.
 
The Police Department reminds residents to "remain vigilant and to contact them if they observe any suspicious persons or activity."
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Pittsfield Police Field 4th Report of Groping

Staff Reports
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Police are launching extra patrols in the downtown area after yet another report of a woman being "groped" while out walking.
 
Police say on Thursday at about 9:27 a.m. a 19-year-old woman said she was groped by a man while she was walking on South Street near the Colonial Theatre. The woman describes the man as being a "white male, dark brown colored hair, clean shaven, with a scrawny thin build."
 
"This incident is the fourth reported assault in recent weeks. The Pittsfield Police Department asks residents and visitors to be vigilant while walking alone and to immediately contact police if they suspect they are being followed. The Detective Bureau is investigating the incidents and patrol officers are conducting extra patrols of the downtown and outlying areas," wrote Capt. Jeffrey Bradford in a release issued to the media on Monday.
 
Police have received numerous reports of walkers and joggers being accosted in the southeast side of the city. None of the victims have been reported to have injured and it is unknown if it is the same man every time.
 
In the previous instances, the perpetrator has been described as being in his 20s, of Caucasian or Hispanic descent, with dark hard, facial hair, and a thin to medium build.
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