NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Two people have been charged with operating what police said was a "significant" marijuana production and distribution system.
Daniel Chao, 37, and Stephanie LeMay, 33, were arrested after a warrant was executed at their 9 Fairgrounds Ave. residence on Wednesday morning.
North Adams Police, working state police detectives, found two pounds of marijuana packaged and ready for sale, 88 marijuana plants and hash oil.
"It was a significant growing operation," said Police Director Michael Cozzaglio on Thursday. "There was upwards of a month of investigation before the execution of the search warrant."
Chao and Lemay, who were renting the single-family home, were both charged with possession of a Class D drug and possession with intent to distribute for the marijuana and for possession and intent to distribute for the hash oil, and conspiracy to violate drug laws.
Police seized "everything that goes with a growing operation," said Cozzaglio, including the plants, lights, soil, fertilizer, scales and other times.
Chao has been "known" to police for sometime, said Cozzaglio, and has a record going back to at least 2006. "He's not a new name."
There have been seizures of growing operations in the past but not one this significant in some time, he said. There have been busts of product imported for distribution.
"We don't usually find a growing operation like this," said Cozzaglio. "In recent memory no, we haven't had anything like this."
Construction Workers Treated at North Adams Supermarket
Staff Reports On: 10:45AM / Wednesday October 02, 2013
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — D'Amours Big Y was closed Wednesday morning after construction workers were apparently overcome by carbon monoxide.
The supermarket is revamping part of its store to include a cafe area.
Fire Director Stephen Meranti said a call was received at about 7:30 a.m. that two people were feeling effects that could be attributed to carbon monoxide. Both were taken to North Adams Regional Hospital where they were being treated.
Carbon monoxide poisoning causes symptoms including lightheadedness, headaches and confusion.
Firefighters and personnel from North Adams Ambulance Service remained on scene until the building could be cleared. It was expected to reopen at about 11 a.m.
Businesses Warned of Utility Scam
Staff Reports On: 01:24PM / Tuesday October 01, 2013
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Area businesses are being warned not for fall for a scam targeting their electricity accounts.
At least one business owner fell for the con in which someone calls up claiming to be from National Grid and threatens to turn off the electricity unless the victim pays through GreenDot MoneyPak payment cards.
Williamstown Police Chief Kyle Johnson said four business owners have already contacted him about the scam, which has been floating around at least since this past April.
National Grid, in a press release, said it has "received numerous calls from electric customers saying they have been contacted by phone by individuals claiming to be from National Grid and advising the customers they have a past due balance on their utility bill."
The utility notes that is does contact customers with overdue accounts to offer payment options, "but never demands direct payment over the telephone."
Colleen Taylor of the Freight Yard Pub was contacted by the scammers on Tuesday morning and immediately brought it to the attention of Johnson and iBerkshires and gave us the scammer's number at 801-850-6225 in Provo, Utah. The number appears to be routed through Ymax Communications Corp., purveyors of the magicJack phone service.
We called and spoke first with a man named Mike Wallace who sent us to his "supervisor" Jason Roberts.
Roberts informed us that we needed to purchase those GreenDot cards to pay our bill because the technicians "have a van with every single customer's information, credit card, Social Security, checking routing number, so on and so forth" and if it got stolen, the thief would have all our information.
That's why if there's an hour cancelation they won't accept a check or cash payment.
No, that doesn't make any sense, but the scammers do talk a good line trying to make it sound reasonable. Really, if your utility asks you to go buy some money card at Cumberland Farms — hang up.
National Grid says to call its Customer Contact Center at 1-800-322-3223 if you receive any suspicious calls demanding account information or immediate payment. Western Massachusetts Electric Co. is also aware of the scam, which hit the Springfield area in July. WMECo customers can call 1-877-OK- WMECo.
After getting off the phone with Mr. Roberts, Charles Anderson of the "National Grid Disconnect Department" called us back, saying a technician would arrive at 2 p.m. to disconnect us. We can't wait.
7 Police Vehicles Respond To North Adams Traffic Stop
Staff Reports On: 04:45PM / Friday September 27, 2013
David Delratez entered not guilty pleas for multiple charges, including the murder of 84-year-old Ellen Depaoli, on Monday morning at Northern Berkshire District Court.
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — David A. Delratez, 41, of Walker Street pleaded not guilty on Monday to single counts of murder and larceny of a motor vehicle in connection to the death of Ellen Depaoli, 84.
Delratez appeared in Northern Berkshire District Court before Judge Michael Ripps on those charges and several others.
According to a report filed by State Police, Delratez claims two unnamed men are responsible for the killing.
Delratez told police he had a friendly relationship with his neighbor, Depaoli.
"I loved that old woman, I hurt that old woman, I could see it in her eyes," he was reported saying when his handcuffs were removed in the holding area of the Bennington (Vt.) Police Department.
Deratez was taken into custody in Bennington on a violation of his probation after police found Depaoli's car, which had been missing from the scene. Inside the car, which was allegedly stolen by Delratez, officers found a knife that "appears to be consistent with the type of weapon used to inflict the stab wounds" on Depaoli, according to the report.
Depaoli was found dead on Sept. 17 at her Walker Street residence. According to the police report, Depaoli's cause of death was "both blunt force injury to the head and sharp force injury to the torso."
The chief medical examiner ruled it a homicide.
The report also states that Delratez told investigators he entered the 409 Walker St. home when "this kid and another guy said come on in." Delratez allegedly told police that he knew her son, James Depaoli, was not home because his truck wasn't in the driveway.
Delratez visited Depaoli often and stayed at her residence overnight on occasion, according to the report.
Inside the house, Delratez said the two people told him "we want our [stuff]" and heard the sound of gurgling, discovering Depaoli on the floor, the police report reads.
He told investigators he and Depaoli's son had robbed drug dealers and angered them.
After, Delratez said the assailants ordered him to drive Depaoli's car to Pittsfield, Albany, N.Y. and Troy, N.Y. He allegedly told police he spent the next two or three days drunk and drove to Bennington because he was scared.
The car was discovered on Thursday, Sept. 19, in Bennington outside the residence of Darlene Oldham on Valentine Street. Oldham told Vermont State Police that Delratez arrived unannounced at 3 p.m. on Sept. 18 and spent the night. Oldham also reportedly told police that Delratez said his sister gave him a ride to Bennington from her New York home.
The report says Delratez eventually was found on Scott Street after he ran from the police on Main Street.
Delratez also entered not guilty pleas for one count of breaking and entering with intent to commit a misdemeanor and one count of malicious destruction of property under $250, both in connection to an incident in Clarksburg on Sept. 13.
Delratez also pleaded not guilty to one count of use of a motor vehicle without authority, in connection to an incident in Clarksburg on Sept. 17.
Delratez will be held at the Berkshire County House of Correction without bail.