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Superior Court Briefs: July 27

Staff Reports
Cases heard before Judge John Agostini on Wednesday, July 27.
Sean Matthews, 25, of Pittsfield pleaded guilty to single counts of armed robbery and intimidation of a witness.
He was ordered to serve concurrent three to three and a half years at the Massachusetts Correctional Institution at Cedar Junction. Matthews robbed K&K Liquors in Pittsfield on June 28, 2016.
Emmet Harvin, 40, of New Ashford was sentenced to concurrent five to eight years at the Massachusetts Correctional Institution at Cedar Junction on two counts of possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony and single counts of trafficking in cocaine, trafficking in oxycodone, distribution of heroin - his second offense - conspiracy to violate drug laws, and possession of a firearm with prior offenses for violent crimes.
He was given concurrent time at the Berkshire County House of Correction on two counts of illegal possession of a firearm and improper storage of a firearm.
Harvin pleaded guilty to the charges on March 4, 2016. The charges stem from the execution of a search warrant on his home on October 9, 2012.
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Adams Man Dies While Tubing On Deerfield River

Staff Reports
Update: 10:27 p.m.: The Northwestern district attorney's office has released the name of the Adams man who drowned in the Deerfield River on Wednesday as Thomas N. Hereford, 51.

According to reports on MassLive, Hereford fell behind the group he was with when his tube began losing air. Members of the group were unable to locate him and his body was recovered by the Northfield Dive Team on Wednesday night.

Hereford's Facebook page says he was employed by Northern Berkshire Stone Masonry and was a graduate of Hoosac Valley High School.

CHARLEMONT, Mass. — A 51-year-old Adams died while tubing on the Deerfield River, according to the Northwestern District Attorney's Office.
Authorities say the body of the man was recovered in the river Wednesday evening and the body is being sent to the chief medical examiner to determine the cause of death. 
The man's name has not been released until next of kin is notified. The district attorney's office says the man was reportedly "tubing with several co-workers near the intersection of the Deerfield and Cold Rivers."
The body was recovered by members of the Northfield Dive Team and Massachusetts State Police are investigating the incident but say no foul play is suspected.
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Driver Killed in Howland Avenue Collision

Staff Reports

Update at 5:37 p.m.: Ethan Piaggi-Cornell of Pittsfield, 23, was killed in Thursday morning's accident in Adams.

Piaggi-Cornell was driving a 2001 Hyundai Sonata north when he collided with a stopped flatbed tow truck on Howland Avenue in Adams at around 11:15 a.m.

Initial reports were that he was taken elsewhere by Life Flight but district attorney's office states he was pronounced dead at Berkshire Medical Center.

The body was taken to the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in Holyoke, where an autopsy will be conducted.

Piaggi-Cornell was a 2012 graduate of Hoosac Valley High School. He was most recently employed as a line cook by Arizona Pizza in Pittsfield, according to his Facebook page.

The investigation is being conducted by members of the Adams Police Department, the Berkshire Detective Unit of the State Police assigned to the district attorney's office, the Massachusetts State Police Collision Analysis Reconstruction and Commercial Vehicle Enforcement sections.

ADAMS, Mass. — A motorist sustained serious injuries after his car collided with a flatbed wrecker on Howland Avenue late Thursday morning.

The northbound Sayers wrecker, with a car on the flatbed, was in the left lane to turn into Gene's Sales and Service when the small Sonata sedan collided with its rear bumper.

"It appears that the wrecker was stopped to make a lefthand turn when it was struck from the rear by the white Sonata, which was operated by a single person," said Police Richard Tarsa shortly before 1 p.m.. "Upon impact, the operator sustained severe injuries including massive head trauma."

Tarsa said the driver was taken to Berkshire Medical Center's North Adams campus and Life-Flighted from there. He was not sure at that point where the individual was taken. The driver of the wrecker was not injured.

The car suffered severe damage to its front driver's side, where it collided with the flatbed. The area was taped off and traffic was detoured over East Road between Lime Street and Hodges Cross Road for more than two hours.

The investigation is in the early stages, Tarsa said. "There are witnesses and we are gathering that information."

The state police Collision Analysis and Reconstruction Section and members of the Berkshire County Law Enforcement Task Force were assisting Adams Police.

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Truck Pulls Down Tree Limb on North Adams' Church Street

Staff Reports

NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — A tractor-trailer truck heading north on Church Street took down two tree limbs and cable wires when the tree became entangled with the cab's wind deflector.

The incident occurred shortly after noontime in front of the Wilkinson House at 164 Church St. The large limb broke off the tree and pulled down telephone and cable wires, including those connected to the Flood House across the street. No electrical wires were touched and no electricity lost.

"It took down the telephone and the cable lines," said Fire Lt. Michael Sherman. "He was a smart guy ... he stayed right in the cabin truck. He wouldn't get out until he was sure there was no electricity going. He was very smart."

Sherman said the city yard would clean up the tree debris. The large limb is about 20 feet long and broke off the trunk; another smaller limb was also damaged and will have to be removed. The truck is an RL Carriers vehicle. It was able to be driven away.

The street was closed briefly between Pleasant and Quincy streets to allow for cleanup.

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Stephentown Man Sentenced To 30 Years in Jail For Drug Operation

Staff Reports
PITTSFIELD, Mass — A Stephentown, N.Y. man was sentenced to 30 years in jail on drugs charges, the investigation of which included 14 Berkshire County residents being indicted, including former City Councilor Paul Capitiano.
Joshua Stegemann was sentenced to 30 years by The United States Attorney’s Office, Northern District of New York, on Friday on charges of possessing cocaine, heroin, and oxycodone with intent to distribute, possessing two handguns in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime, and unlawfully possessing three firearms and ammunition as a felon.
Stegemann had been convicted by a jury of the crimes last August. The Stephentown, N.Y. resident used his house and property as a "base of operation for his drug trafficking business," according to a release from the U.S. Attorney's Office.
On April 30, 2013 investigators recovered cocaine, heroin, oxycodone, two loaded handguns, a loaded shotgun, and more than $296,000 in cash. The items were found all over the property including in landscaping features and tree stumps and pine trees.
A few days later, on May 3, 2013, a safe was found in a Pittsfield home which Stegemann had stashed there. That safe contained another $160,000 in cash. In total, the U.S. Attorney's Office says more than 600 grams of cocaine, 30 grams of heroin, more than 700 oxycodone pills, three firearms, dozens of rounds of ammunition and nearly a half-million in cash was recovered.
The investigation took more than a year and was started by the Massachusetts State Police, who were joined by the Rensselaer County, N.Y. Sheriff's Office, the federal Drug Enforcement Administration, and New York State Police.
District Attorney David Capeless said a total of 14 people from Berkshire County were indicted during the investigation, including then-City Councilor Paul Capitanio. Capitano pled guilty in 2015 to accessory before the fact of a felony for trying to top off Stegemann's associates about a raid. He was sentenced to two-years probation.
"This was a joint investigation initiated by the Berkshire Law Enforcement Task Force, and grew to include the DEA, Rensselaer County Sheriff’s Office and New York State Police. The cooperation among the agencies was a model for law enforcement practices, with communities in two states benefiting from their combined efforts. I want to thank United States Attorney Richard Hartunian for agreeing to support our work with the prosecution of the case, and to Assistant U.S. Attorney Richard Bellis for his dogged effort in securing the convictions and a just sentence," Capeless wrote in a release.
In Berkshire County, Stegemann had previously been convicted of trafficking in cocaine in 1999 and served three to five years in state prison. In 2003, he was convicted a second time of trafficking in cocaine and sentenced to 10 to 12 years in state prison.


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