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FBI: MS-13 Member Arrested In Pittsfield

Staff Reports
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — An alleged member of a violent international street gang was arrested Thursday morning in Pittsfield by the FBI.
 
Efrain Vasquez-Yanez has been charged with conspiracy under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) and conspiracy to distribute cocaine. The State Police Violent Fugitive Apprehension Section, the U.S. Marshals Fugitive Task Force, and Pittsfield Police took Vasquez-Yanez into custody without incident Thursday. 
 
He was indicted in U.S. District Court in Boston along with 55 others of the La Mara Salvatrucha — or MS-13 — gang in January. Last week, the Federal Bureau of Investigation announced a $20,000 reward for information leading to his arrest. But no money will be paid out in this case, according to FBI officials.
 
The 33-year-old Vasquez-Yanez was born in El Salvador and was last seen in July in Everett. The FBI obtained information related to a connection to Pittsfield, which led to his arrest on Thursday.
 
The January indictment issued out of Boston accuses the gang members of various crimes including murder, attempted murder, and drug trafficking. The FBI says Vasquez-Yanez received "homeboy status" within the gang, which the FBI says is granted only to members who commit a murder and or inflict serious physical injury on a person in the name of the gang. He allegedly served as "protection" for interstate transport of cocaine loads. 
 
The FBI's wanted poster said he was considered armed and dangerous.
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Superior Court Briefs: Sept. 12 - Sept. 15

Staff Reports
Cases heard before Judge John Agostini on Monday, September 12.
 
Casey Hall, 31, of North Adams pleaded guilty to a single count of possession of heroin.
 
She was ordered to serve 327 days at the Hampden County House of Correction, Chicopee Woman's Facility with credit for time served.
 
The charges stem form the execution of a search warrant at 56 Orchard Street in Adams on October 22, 2015.
 
A single count of conspiracy to violate drug laws was dismissed by the state.
 
Cases heard before Judge John Agostini on Tuesday, September 13.
 
Benjamin Fielding, 27, of Pittsfield pleaded guilty to a single count of possession of heroin.
 
He was ordered to serve 18 months at the Berkshire County House of Correction. The charge stems form an incident in Pittsfield on June 8, 2015. 
 
Two counts of conspiracy to violate drug laws, and single counts of possession of heroin with intent to distribute and drug violation in a school zone were dismissed by the state.
 
Cases heard before Judge John Agostini on Thursday, September 15.
 
Kate Frissell, 35, of Hinsdale had not guilty pleas entered on her behalf on single counts of manslaughter, conspiracy to violate drug laws, and possession of heroin with intent to distribute.
 
She was ordered to be held at the Hampden County House of Correction Chicopee Woman's Facility on $25,000 bail.
 
Frissell is accused of selling fentanyl laced heroin to 39-year-old Shawn Filiault on February 5, 2016. Filiault died after ingesting the drug. She is also accused of being in possession of heroin with intent to sell when she was arrested on July 8, 2016.
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Police Investigating Robbery of Credit Union of the Berkshires

Staff Reports

The bank was closed and officers were on scene Tuesday afternoon.
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Credit Union of the Berkshires was robbed Tuesday afternoon.
 
Police say at 12:38 officers responded to the branch in the William Street Plaza after a man entered the bank, brandished a weapon, demanded money, and took off with an undisclosed amount of cash.
 
The suspect is described as a white man in his early 40s with "scruffy facial hair wearing large dark sunglasses and a gray baseball cap with dark curly hair sticking out."
 
The man was described as 5-foot 10-inches or 5-foot 11-inches call and weighing about 170 lbs. He was wearing a gray and black hoodless fleece, sweatpants, and gray and black gloves.
 
"Officers conducted an area search and a K9 made a track to an area where a vehicle had been seen earlier," Police wrote in a statement.
 
Williams and Egremont Elementary Schools were placed on "lockdown status" as a precautionary measure. The incident is currently under investigation and anyone with information is asked to contact the department.
 
The bank was closed in the afternoon with signs reading that the branch would resume regular hours the next day.
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Superior Court Briefs: Sept. 2 - Sept. 9

Staff Reports
Cases heard before Judge John Agostini on Friday, Sept. 2.
 
James Tarjick Jr., 44, of Becket pleased guilty to two counts of receiving stolen property over $250.
 
On January 14, 2015 Tarjick was in possession of stolen items take from housebreaks that occurred throughout the state in the past several years.
 
He also pleaded guilty to four counts of unarmed burglary, nine counts of larceny over $250, three counts of receiving stolen property over $250, and two counts of breaking and entering a motor vehicle in the nighttime. 
 
Those charges stem from house and motor vehicle breaks in Berkshire County between October 29, 2010 and September 21, 2013. 
 
Sentencing will be done at a later date. He was ordered to be help in custody until then.
 
Five counts of receiving stolen property over $250, and single counts of breaking and entering a motor vehicle in the nighttime and being a common receiver of stolen goods were dismissed by the state. 
 
Cases heard before Judge John Agostini on Tuesday, Sept. 6.
 
Aaron Tarjick, 40, of Windsor pleaded guilty to 25 counts of larceny over $250, 13 counts of breaking and entering a motor vehicle in the nighttime, nine counts of breaking and entering in the night time, seven counts of unarmed burglary, three counts of larceny of a firearm, and single counts of larceny of a motor vehicle and larceny under $250.
 
The charges stem from a series of housebreaks in Berkshire County between October 22, 2010 and November 13, 2012. He was ordered to be held without bail until sentencing on Sept. 22. 
 
A single count of breaking and entering a motor vehicle in the nighttime was dismissed by the state.
 
James Tarjick Sr., 63, of Windsor pleaded guilty to nine counts of receiving stolen property over $250. 
 
He was in possession of items stolen during housebreaks in Massachusetts over the last several years. The charges were continued without a finding for two years. 
 
A single count of receiving stolen property over $250 was dismissed by the state.
 
Nancy Tarjick, 61, of Windsor pleaded guilty to 9 counts of receiving stolen property over $250. 
 
She was in possession of items stolen during housebreaks in Massachusetts over the last several years. The charges were continued without a finding for two years. 
 
A single count of receiving stolen property over $250 was dismissed by the state.
 
Cases heard before Judge John Agostini on Wednesday, Sept. 7.
 
Brian Ducksworth, 25, of Hartford, Conn. had not guilty pleas entered on his behalf on single counts of possession of heroin with intent to distribute, and conspiracy to violate drug laws.
 
He was ordered to be held at the Berkshire County House of Correction on $15,000 bail. The charges stem from the execution of a search warrant at 522 West Shaft Road in North Adams on July 26, 2016. 
 
Dylan Litchfield, 23, of Peru had not guilty pleas entered on his behalf on single counts of mayhem, armed assault with intent to murder, and aggravated assault and battery by means of a dangerous weapon. 
 
He was ordered to be held at the Berkshire County House of Correction without bail. The charges stem from an incident in Savoy on June 13, 2016 and involved a 27-year-old man.
 
Michael Litchfield, 43, of Hinsdale had not guilty pleas entered on his behalf on single counts of manslaughter, conspiracy to violate drug laws, and possession of heroin with intent to distribute.
 
He was ordered to be held at the Berkshire County House of Correction on $25,000 bail. Litchfield is accused of selling fentanyl laced heroin to 39-year-old Shawn Filiault, who died after ingesting the drug, on February 5, 2016. He was also in possession of heroin with intent to sell when he was arrested on July 8, 2016.
 
Gavin Mahar, 23, of North Adams had not guilty pleas entered on his behalf on single counts of possession of heroin with intent to distribute, and conspiracy to violate drug laws.
 
The charges are in connection of a motor vehicle stop in North Adams on June 27, 2016. Mahar was ordered to be held at the Berkshire County House of Correction on $10,000 bail.
 
Joshua Stimpson, 29, of Pittsfield had not guilty pleas entered on his behalf on single counts of possession of heroin with intent to distribute - his second offense - and conspiracy to violate drug laws. 
 
He was ordered to be held at the Berkshire County House of Correction on $15,000 bail. The charges stem from a motor vehicle stop in North Adams on June 27, 2016.
 
Cases heard before Judge John Agostini on Thursday, Sept. 8.
 
Cathleen Crawford, 37, of Pittsfield pleaded guilty to single counts of possession of heroin and possession of cocaine.
 
The charges are in connection with the execution of a search warrant on her West Street home on September 16, 2015. She was ordered to serve 129 days at the Hampden County House of Correction Chicopee Woman's Facility with credit for time served waiting for the disposition of her case.
 
Two counts of conspiracy to violate drug laws, two counts of drug violation within a park zone, and single counts of possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony, illegal ownership of a firearm, possession of ammunition without a firearm identification card, and improper storage of a firearm were dismissed by the state.
 
Alysha Orvis, 26, of Savoy had not guilty pleas entered on her behalf on single counts of possession of heroin with intent to distribute, and conspiracy to violate drug laws.
 
The charges are in connection with a motor vehicle stop in North Adams on June 27, 2016. She was ordered to be held at the Hampden County House of Correction Chicopee Woman's Facility on $1,000 bail.
 
Courtney Tatro, 21, of Clarksburg had not guilty pleas entered on her behalf on single counts of possession of heroin with intent to distribute, and conspiracy to violate drug laws.
 
The charges are in connection with a motor vehicle stop in North Adams on June 27, 2016. She was ordered to be held at the Hampden County House of Correction Chicopee Woman's Facility on $2,500 bail.
 
Cases heard before Judge John Agostini on Friday, Sept. 9.
 
Tyler Sherman, 24, of Cheshire pleaded guilty to single counts of assault and battery by means of a dangerous weapon and assault and battery. 
 
He was ordered to two years at the Berkshire County House of Correction on the assault and battery charge. He was given a concurrent one-year sentence on the other charge.
 
Sherman assaulted a 21-year-old man in Adams on March 11, 2016. A single count of strangulation or suffocation was dismissed by the state.
 
Caleb Sherman, 24, of Adams pleaded guilty to single counts of assault and battery by means of a dangerous weapon, assault and battery, and threat to commit a crime.
 
He was ordered to serve concurrent two-year sentences at the Berkshire County House of Correction on the assault and battery by means of a dangerous weapon and assault and battery charges. He was given a concurrent six-month sentence on the charges. 
 
Sherman assaulted a 21-year-old man in Adams on March 11, 2016. A single count of strangulation or suffocation was dismissed by the state.
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Pittsfield Police Officer Fired for Misconduct

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — A Pittsfield police officer has been fired for "multiple misconduct charges."

Officer Dale Eason, a 20-year veteran of the force, had been on leave since May after a scuffle with an elderly woman in her home last year.

A terse press release from Chief Michael Wynn said Eason had been terminated on Wednesday after a "lengthy internal investigation and a local civil service hearing."

Eason had arrested Phyllis Stankiewicz, 88, after he and another officer entered her home after being sent to the wrong address for a disturbance. A confused Stankiewicz had allegedly threatened them with a small paring knife and, when disarmed, had slapped Eason on the wrist. Eason then put her on the ground and arrested her. All charges against Stankiewicz were dropped.

"The City of Pittsfield and the Pittsfield Police Department take any and all acts of police misconduct by our personnel extremely seriously. Service as a police officer requires a high degree of public trust. On those rare occasions, as is the case here, that trust is violated, severe sanctions must be imposed," said Wynn in the statement.

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