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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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Superior Court Briefs: July 18 - July 22

Staff Reports
Cases heard before Judge John Agostini on Monday, July 18.
 
Michael Taylor, 56, of Pittsfield had not guilty pleas entered on his behalf on single counts of possession of cocaine with intent to distribute - his second offense - possession of oxycodone with intent to distribute - his second offense - possession of heroin, and resisting arrest.
 
He was released on $1,000 bail but he is also currently being held at the Berkshire County House of Correction on other charges. The charges stem from an incident in Pittsfield on June 6, 2016.
 
Michael Crump, 39, of Canaan, Conn. had not guilty pleas entered on his behalf on single counts of possession of heroin with intent to distribute - his second offense - and operating a motor vehicle with a suspended license. 
 
He was released on $1,000 bail. The charges stem from a motor vehicle stop in Great Barrington on June 1, 2016.
 
Cases heard before Judge John Agostini on Thursday, July 21.
 
Deng Vilayvanh, 26, of Pittsfield pleaded guilty to single counts of conspiracy to violate drug laws to wit: trafficking in cocaine, possession of cocaine with intent to distribute, illegal ownership of a firearm, possession of a firearm with a defaced serial number, possession of ammunition without a firearm identification card, improper storage of a firearm, and possession of cocaine.
 
He was ordered to serve three to four years at the Massachusetts Correctional Institution at Cedar Junction on the conspiracy to violate drug drug laws, possession of cocaine, and possession of a firearm with a defaced serial number charges. He was given concurrent time at the Berkshire County House of Correction on the other charges.
 
The charges stem from the execution of a search warrant at his Dewey Avenue home on July 17, 2015. 
 
A single count of possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony was dismissed by the state.
 
Cases heard before Judge John Agostini on Friday, July 22.
 
Elwin Bruno, 48, of Pittsfield pleaded guilty to a single count of possession of heroin with intent to distribute.
 
He was ordered to serve two years at the Berkshire County House of Correction. The charge stems from a motor vehicle stop in Pittsfield on June 8, 2015.
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Pittsfield Police Still Investigating Hit And Run Accident On Columbus Avenue

Staff Reports

McAllister's Jeep was damaged after it rolled onto its side.
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Police are investigating a hit and run accident in which the driver of an allegedly stolen vehicle fled on foot.
 
Police say 25-year-old Kelly McAllister was traveling east on Columbus Avenue and had the right of way at the intersection of Dewey Avenue when another vehicle ran the stop sign at Dewey and crashed into McAllister on Friday, July 15. McAllister's Jeep rolled over and the operator of the other vehicle fled on foot.
 
"The operator of the vehicle that caused the accident fled the scene on foot leaving the vehicle behind.  The owner of the vehicle causing the accident was immediately contacted at his address and reported his vehicle had been stolen from his house," Capt. David Granger wrote in a e-mail. 
 
The accident is still under investigation and anyone with information is asked to contact Ofc. Marc Maddalena at 448-9700 ext. 339 or submit tips through the Police Department's website.
 
McAllister is hoping somebody can help provide a description to police.
 
"This person could very well do this again and next time could end someone's life, I'm truly lucky to be alive, yet nobody, besides eye witnesses know anything about this accident," McAllister wrote in an e-mail to iBerkshires. "I need eye witnesses to come forward and give any description of the man who took off running on foot."
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Early Morning Fire Destroys Pittsfied Duplex On Robbins Ave

By Andy McKeever
iBerkshires Staff

Firefighters were evacuated from the building when the roof showed signs of collapsing.
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — An early morning fire destroyed a Robbins Avenue duplex, leaving two people without homes.
 
Fire Captain Raymond Tart said the cause is still be investigated and one firefighter was sent to the hospital.
 
The call in around 4 a.m. Monday morning and firefighters responded to the blaze to find heavy fire on both sides of the home.
 
"The deputy chief who was on the scene, Deputy [Daniel] Garner, he had heavy fire showing from the front and the back up toward attic," Tart said.
 
"They made an interior attack and then they eventually pulled the guys out in time because the roof collapsed."
 
The road was blocked off for hours and one firefighter suffered dehydration and was taken to Berkshire Medical Center.
 
"I believe is going to be released soon if he hasn't been released yet," Tart said.
 
Tart said the American Red Cross was called in to help the two occupants on one side of the duplex find temporary housing. The two had apparently been in the home when it started but escaped without injury. The other side was vacant. 
 
The fire was a two-alarm, bringing in 18 city firefighters to the scene. The Dalton Fire Department sent a crew of five as well and Hinsdale was on scene with a rehabilitation unit.
 
The blaze posed challenges to firefighters because of the heavy fire and roof collapse, but otherwise Tart said the putting it out went "pretty smooth."
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Pittsfield Investigating Apparent Homicide

Staff Reports
Update at 5:30 p.m., Monday:
 
Dr. Mindy Hull, an associate medical examiner for the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, conducted the autopsy on 38-year-old Joseph Brown on Monday in Boston. Dr. Hull's preliminary results ruled the manner of death as a homicide from a single gunshot wound to the chest.

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — A city man was shot dead early Sunday morning, according to the district attorney's office.

The body of Joseph Brown, 38, of Pittsfield was found in his driveway at 343 Columbus Ave. at about 2 a.m. Sunday after 911 call reporting a man down.
 
District Attorney David Capeless' office said Brown appeared to have died from a single gunshot wound to the chest.
 
"The body was removed from the scene by the office of the chief medical examiner and was transported to the Boston office, where an autopsy will be conducted tomorrow," reads a statement from the office.
 
Police are investigating the shooting as an apparent homicide and are asking anyone with any information to contact the department at 413-448-9700. 
 
The investigation is being conducted by members of the Pittsfield Police Department, assisted by the Berkshire detective unit of the State Police assigned to the district attorney's office, the Berkshire Law Enforcement Task Force and the Massachusetts State Police Crime Scene Services Section.
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