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Williamstown Man Sentenced in Child Sex Abuse Case

WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — A local man was sentenced Monday in U.S. District Court in Springfield in connection with persuading a 16-year-old boy to travel to New York three years ago to engage in sexual activity.

Ronald S. Brown, 53, was sentenced by U.S. District Court Judge Mark G. Mastroianni to 15 years in prison and 10 years of supervised release.

In November 2015, he pleaded guilty to one count of interstate travel with intent to engage in illicit sexual conduct with a minor and one count of possession of material involving the sexual exploitation of minors.

Brown, a registered sex offender based upon a prior conviction for a sexual assault of a 14-year-old, engaged in thousands of online interactions with a 16-year-old boy between Dec. 27, 2012, and Jan. 19, 2013, to persuade him to run away from his Midwestern home to engage in sexual activity.  

On Jan. 7, 2013, Brown sent the boy a one-way ticket to fly to Newark International Airport in New Jersey, and on Jan. 19, 2013, Brown picked the boy up at the Newark airport, and then transported him to New York to engage in sex. On three separate dates, Brown also sexually exploited the teenager by producing visual images of the minor engaging in lewd and lascivious conduct.

The boy was recovered in New York after his mother alerted police that her son was missing and believed to be meeting with Brown.  During an interview on Jan. 20, 2013, Brown falsely told a federal agent that he believed the child to be 18 years old.

U.S. Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz and Harold H. Shaw, special agent in charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Boston Field Division, made the announcement. The case was investigated with assistance from the Massachusetts State Police, the Williamstown Police Department and the New York State Police.  It was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Steven H. Breslow of Ortiz's Springfield Branch Office.

The case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative designed to protect children from exploitation and abuse. 

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Rescuers Recover Hiker's Body in Monument Mountain Reservation

GREAT BARRINGTON, Mass. — The body of a missing hiker was recovered early Saturday morning from Monument Mountain Reservation after an eight-hour search and four-hour recovery operation.

The hiker was identified as Joan Sussman, age 67, of Ashley Falls. Family members said she was a frequent climber and regularly hiked Monument Mountain.

Fire Chief Charles Burger said the operation began as a rescue after Sussman called in to say she was injured and was at the top of the mountain.

Rescuers from the Great Barrington Fire Department and Southern Berkshire Ambulance were dispatched to the mountain at 3:18 p.m. A GPS ping showed the last known location as Squaw Peak, but the call was soon dropped and subsequent calls by dispatchers and rescuers went unanswered.

Because of the steep and rocky terrain, the Sheffield and Egremont Fire Departments were called in for additional manpower and for the department's additional all-terrain vehicles. The Western Massachusetts Technical Rescue Team was also activated. No one was found.

Searches along all of the trails proved unsuccessful. A strong thunderstorm rolled through with torrential rain, making hiking more dangerous.

Police K-9 units and the state police arrived on scene later on. The State Police Air Wing was requested but unable to fly because of weather conditions.

She was found at 10 p.m. on a rock cropping and was pronounced dead at the scene.

A delicate recovery operation then began using multiple crews and rope systems in the darkness. The hiker's body was finally removed from the scene at 2:30 a.m. Saturday.

"This is an extremely unfortunate situation. On behalf of the entire community and the Great Barrington Fire Department, I offer my sincerest condolences to the family and friends of the victim," Burger said. "I am very proud of the hard work conducted by our crews, working through the night in poor weather to find and ultimately recover the victim. We wish the outcome was different, however."

The Great Barrington Police and Fire departments, the Sheffield and Egremont fire departments, the state police, the Western Mass. Technical Rescue Team, the Berkshire County sheriff's office, and Southern Berkshire Ambulance all responded. In total, 65 rescuers were on  scene.

Monument Mountain is a popular hiking spot where the Fire Department performs multiple rescues each year. This was the second rescue effort performed in the past week. On Aug. 5, firefighters rescued a 22-year-old hiker who injured her ankle on the mountain.

The Stockbridge and Monterey fire departments provided station coverage for Great Barrington during the incident and responded to several other incidents.

The incident is under investigation by the Police Department.

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Superior Court Briefs: Aug. 9

Staff Reports
Cases heard before Judge Daniel Ford on Tuesday, August 9.
 
Peter Lee-Kramer, 23, of Princeton, N.J. pleaded guilty to single counts of breaking and entering in the daytime, attempted arson of a swelling house, and malicious destruction of personal property over $250.
 
He was ordered to serve two-years probation on the malicious destruction of personal property charge and the others were continued for two years.
 
Lee-Kramer broke into a home in Williamstown and tried to set it on fire on January 10, 2015. He also damaged items in the house.
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Great Barrington Fire Department Rescues Hiker from Monument Reservation

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GREAT BARRINGTON, Mass. — Chief Charles Burger reports that the Great Barrington Fire Department rescued an injured hiker on Monument Reservation last Friday.

At approximately 11 a.m. on Friday, Aug. 5, members of the Fire Department's technical rescue team responded to Monument Reservation for reports of a 22-year-old woman with an injured ankle.

Upon arrival, rescuers determined that the hiker was stuck on a steep hill, and the Western Mass Technical Rescue team, along with the Sheffield Fire Department's ATV and Rescue Sled, were called to assist.

Rescuers hiked for approximately 45 minutes to reach the victim, carrying extensive medical and rescue equipment. The victim, who had slipped while hiking with her dog, was found in stable condition but in severe pain from a broken ankle. Medics from South Berkshire Ambulance treated her injuries.

Firefighters rigged rope systems to lower the victim in a Stokes basket (rescue stretcher) down a steep, rocky section of trail. She was then carried a half mile to a Sheffield Fire Department ATV specifically designed to carry the rescue stretcher.

Firefighters and rescue officials completed the rescue around 1:30 p.m. The hiker was transported to Berkshire Medical Center in Pittsfield for further evaluation.

"These operations always take an extended period of time to ensure that the victim and all crew members get out of the situation safely," Burger said. "I would like to thank everyone who worked hard to make this a successful rescue, including the incredible help from other responding agencies."

Southern Berkshire Ambulance, Sheffield Fire Department, the Western Mass Technical Rescue Team, and a county fire coordinator were on scene to assist.

The Western Mass Technical Rescue Team is run by Western Mass Fire Chiefs and covers Berkshire, Hamden, Hampshire, and Franklin counties. Firefighters from Great Barrington, Lenox, Pittsfield, Dalton, and North Adams staff the Berkshire County Division.

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Pittsfield Police Investigating Stabbing At Burbank Park

Staff Reports
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Police are investigating a stabbing which left one man in critical condition.
 
Police say at 1:49 a.m. Tuesday morning patrol units were leaving Berkshire Medical Center when a man with traumatic injuries resulting from a stabbing at Burbank Park arrived. The victim was being transported to the hospital in a privately-owned vehicle.
 
"Initially witness account were contradictory, some claiming that the victim was suffering from a gunshot wound, others claiming a stab wound," Police wrote in a statement released Tuesday evening.
 
BMC staff administered medical attention while additional police patrol units were dispatched to Burbank Park. There a crime scene was secured and evidence and interviews led to "preliminary information that he suffered multiple stab wounds."
 
Police say the victim is "in critical condition."
 
Evidence was collected at both BMC and Burbank Park and Police are asking anyone with information about the incident to contact them at 413-448-9700, through the drug tips line at 413-448-9708, or by texting PITTIP and a message to 847411.
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