NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Police say a major drug bust on Tuesday is a successful example of how they're keeping the pressure on outside criminal elements — and a warning to those considering a return.
"The lion's share of the people we've been dealing with — starting about January and this summer — are outsiders, out-of-town problem people," said Police Director Michael Cozzaglio on Wednesday. "They were from Brooklyn and the Bronx; they came back in."
Three of the eight people arrested during the raid at a Mohawk Forest apartment were from the Bronx, N.Y.; a fifth gave no known address and a sixth was from Springfield. Three were local: Jaycee Bressette, 22, Pownal, Vt., Ronni Hart of Barbour Street and Paul Dugal Jr., a former Florida Mountain resident now living in Mohawk Forest.
Police found 150 grams of crack cocaine, worth about $10,000 on the street, said Cozzaglio, 80 packages of heroin worth about $1,200 and $4,000 in cash.
The police director said the suspects were not unknown to authorities, and two had outstanding warrants. Johnte Smith, 25, and Derrick Witter, 31, of the Bronx were arraigned in Superior Court on Wednesday on counts of assault and battery and intimidation of a witness from earlier this year. Smith was also charged with aggravated rape.
"We put a lot of pressure on our problem people over the summer and the out-of-town people," said Cozzaglio. "Two had outstanding warrants, which also caused them to flee. Subsequently, they had returned and, working with the public, we were able to find out where they were and what they were doing.
"They were back in the business of dealing drugs."
The raid came together very quickly after authorities learned of the alleged dealers' return. North Adams Police, working with sheriff's office and the task force through the district attorney's office, obtained a warrant and moved fast.
"It was well executed and done very efficiently and done very well," said Cozzaglio.
He said the alleged dealers may have been testing to see if the "pressure was off."
"We are not easing off one little bit. This pressure will stay on until we feel there is a difference being made," he said. "This is part of the problem but not the full problem."
Dealers coming from outside the area inevitably need a place to stay or set up operations; that means they need one or more local people's help as well as customers.
"This type of activity has no borders," said the police director, and pulls in people of all ages and backgrounds. He credited local groups working to prevent addiction and aiding current addicts as a critical effort to attacking the problem.
"Let's work with the addicts and remove the drug dealers ... they have no mercy for these people, they are truly criminal and deserve what they get," he said.
North Adams Police Arrest Eight In Drug Bust
Staff Reports On: 04:18PM / Tuesday November 26, 2013
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Eight people were arrested Tuesday during a heroin bust in Mohawk Forest.
According to the police log, two people were arrested on warrants during the 2 p.m. bust and six others were arrested on being present where heroin-is-kept charges.
Those arrested include Derrick Witter, 31, Christopher Gaynor, 27, and Hammad Singleton, 36, all of Bronx, N.Y.; Johnte Smith, 25, no address given; Carla Robinson, 58, of Springfield; Jaycee Bressette, 22, of Pownal Vt., Ronni Hart, 31, of Barbour Street and Paul P. Dugal Jr., 51, of Mohawk Forest.
Witter and Smith were arrested on warrants and were in Berkshire Superior Court on Wednesday.
Witter has not-guilty pleas entered on his behalf on two counts of intimidation of a witness and a single count of assault and battery by means of a dangerous weapon. He was ordered to be held at the Berkshire County House of Correction on $70,000 cash or $700,000 surety bail. Those incidents allegedly occurred in North Adams between July 17 and July 29, 2013, and involved a 40-year-old woman.
Smith had not-guilty pleas entered on his behalf on three counts of assault and battery and single counts of aggravated rape, assault and battery by means of a dangerous weapon and intimidation of a witness. He was ordered to be held at the Berkshire County House of Correction on $50,000 cash or $500,000 surety bail. The incidents allegedly occurred in North Adam between April 30 and July 17, 2013, and involved a 40-year-old woman.
No further information was immediately available.
Updated on November 27, 2013 at 10:40 a.m. with the court actions.
Motor Vehicle Accident Closes Curran Highway
Staff Reports On: 12:33PM / Tuesday November 26, 2013
A two-vehicle accident closed Curran Highway on Tuesday.
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Curran Highway was closed shortly after 11 a.m. on Tuesday after a state Department of Transportation truck sheared off a utility pole in front of South Side Sales & Service and Mr. Tire.
Police are reporting that the northbound state truck attempted to avoid the southbound sedan, which was making a lefthand turn. The driver of the sedan was cited. It was initially believed that both vehicles were heading in the same direction.
The highway was closed because it was feared the heavy utility pole could pull down the poles on each side of it. At least three National Grid trucks and crews were at the scene to the replace the pole and move the lines and transformers.
Authorities had hoped to have the road open by 1 p.m.
Police and emergency responders were still at the scene at about 12:30 p.m. The truck had been removed from the pole. One ambulance had left the scene but another was still there. It was not clear how many people had been in the vehicles but none of the occupants were transported to the hospital.
The truck and car, which has Vermont plates, suffered significant front-end damage. Traffic was being detoured over Old State Street, behind United Cerebral Palsy.
At the time of the crash, Mr. Tire was filled to capacity with motorists trying to get snow tires on their cars; South Side Sales & Service had several pieces of equipment displayed around the pole. That stretch also includes Dean's Quality Auto & Truck repair and towing, which removed the truck from the scene.
Employee Facing Charges In North Adams Robbery
Staff Reports On: 04:29PM / Wednesday November 20, 2013
Police said the clerk was alone in the store at the time of the alleged robbery and that law enforcement launched a search for two men, either African-American or Hispanic, with one dressed in black and the other in orange. A K-9 unit was called from Lanesborough in the search.
North Adams Councilor Gets Restraint Order on Cardimino
Staff Reports On: 02:11AM / Tuesday November 19, 2013
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Robert Cardimino has been ordered to stay 100 yards away from City Councilor Jennifer Breen for the next year.
Breen filed for a restraining order after she said was verbally and physically attacked during election day campaigning in front of St. Elizabeth's Parish Center, where voting was taking place.
Cardimino, also candidate for City Council, denied anything untoward had taken place.
"When she said I spit on her that was very erroneous," he told Judge Laurie Macleod in Northern Berkshire District Court on Monday afternoon. He also said he didn't shove her, but rather in the crowded corner where they were standing, they had bumped into each other. "You have to understand, it was shoulder to shoulder."
Several police officers, however, testified that Cardimino had pushed her or acted out. Officer Fran Maruco testified that Cardimino had refused to follow instructions at the polls.
Maruco had also told him to stop reaching over a low wall along the walkway to shake voters hands. Cardimino had been unhappy with that and said it violated his rights.
Breen's mother, Mary Ellen Breen, and friend Maryanne Santelli testified to other incidents, including saying Cardimino had stopped his truck at the median at Marshall and West Main streets to yell at Breen and her mother, who were standing with campaign signs. Mary Ellen Breen said he yelled "I'm going to beat you" several times and it rattled them enough that they left soon after.
Cardimino said Breen had said racist things about his wife, a Filipino-American, which had prompted earlier this year to start wearing a T-shirt denouncing her as such. "I told every African-American voter that came by, I tipped them off that Councilor Breen is a racist," he said.
He found little sympathy with Macleod, who instituted the restraining order for a year and warned him that violating it was a criminal offense.
"She has established, in my mind, she is afraid of you because of the actions you have done," said MacLeod.
For his part, Cardimino, a frequent gadfly at council meetings for a number of years, said he was done with politics after his poor showing in the election.
"I know that I have no popularity," he said, adding he was giving up his public access television show and wouldn't be attending council meetings.
Cardimino made a similar vow two years ago when he lost his first run for City Council but found it hard to stay away. Last year, he was served a no-trespass order banning him from council chambers after a verbal confrontation with Councilor Marie Hairpin; he's also been removed from meetings for being disruptive.