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Drug Ring King Sentenced to Cedar Junction

Staff Reports

NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Ronnell Garmie, who killed a North Adams man in 2008, has been sentenced to prison on drug charges.

Garmie, of Bronx, N.Y., pleaded guilty on Thursday afternoon in Berkshire Superior Court in Pittsfield to single counts of cocaine trafficking and consipiracy to violate drug laws (distribution of cocaine). Judge Daniel Ford sentenced the 21-year-old Garmie to five to 5 1/2 years at Massachusetts Correctional Institution at Cedar Junction on the trafficking charge and a concurrent prison sentence on the conspiracy charge.

The charges stem from the night of Aug. 20, 2008, when authorities believe Walter tried to steal cocaine from a residence at Wheel Estates Mobile Home Park at which Garmie was staying. Garmie stabbed Walter during a scuffle at a residence; Walter, 24, was found by police on a neighboring lawn suffering from multiple stab wounds. He was transported to North Adams Regional Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

A grand jury declined to indict Garmie on charges related to the slaying. However, the investigation into the death resulted in the breakup of a drug ring operating out of the city.

Garmie was indicted on multiple drug charges and held on $100,000 bail; eight others were arraigned on a variety charges.

Garmie was found to have possessed more than 28 grams of cocaine on the night of Aug. 20, 2008. He also conspired with other others to sell cocaine in North Adams between Aug. 1, 2008, and Aug. 20, 2008. 

One suspect, Shelly L. Nichlen, then 30, pleaded guilty last March to single counts of furnishing misleading information to a police officer related to aiding Garmie to flee the scene. At the same court appearance, she pleaded guilty to single counts of armed robbery, conspiracy to commit armed robbery, larceny of more than $250 and misleading a police officer in connection with a robbery at Cumberland Farms on Dec. 2, 2007. Nichlen also pleaded guilty to single counts of possession of cocaine with intent to distribute, conspiracy to violate drug laws and violating a drug-free school zone from motor vehicle stop in North Adams in April 2008. 

She was ordered to serve concurrent four- to five-year state prison sentences in Walpole.

Walter's mother, Constance Pratt, who drove him to the scene, was placed on probation.

The owner of the mobile home, Tina Senecal, 54, pleaded guilty on Feb. 3, 2011, in Berkshire Superior Court to single counts of possession of cocaine with intent to distribute and conspiracy to violate drug laws (distribution of cocaine). She admitted to selling cocaine in North Adams between Aug. 1 and Aug. 20, 2008. 

Judge John Agostini gave her a suspended 18-month sentence in the Berkshire County House of Correction on the possession charge and two years' probation on both charges on the condition she remain drug and alcohol free and undergo testing during the probationary period. A count of furnishing misleading information to a police officer was dismissed at the request of the commonwealth.

Garmie was found to have possessed more than 28 grams of cocaine on the night of Aug. 20, 2008. He also conspired with other others to sell cocaine in North Adams between Aug. 1, 2008, and Aug. 20, 2008. 

The investigation was conducted by members of the North Adams Police Department and state police detectives assigned to the district attorney's office.

Updated on Feb. 3, 2011, to insert Senecal's sentencing.

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Four Arrested in MCLA Armed Robbery

Staff Reports

NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Investigators have made several arrests in connection with a home invasion and armed robbery that took place on the campus of the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts in December.  

Joshua E. Jadusingh, 18, of West Main Street, pleaded not guilty Friday morning in Northern Berkshire District court to single counts of home invasion and armed robbery. Judge Laurie MacLeod ordered that he be held at the Berkshire County House of Correction on $25,000 cash or $250,000 surety bail.

Jadusingh will be back in court for appointment of counsel on Jan. 24.

Police also arrested and charged a 15-year-old, whose identity was not released because of the individual's juvenile status, in connection with the incident.

The charges stem from a reported armed robbery at the one of the college's townhouse dormitories on the evening of Dec. 14, 2010. Campus, state and North Adams police were called to the scene but law enforcement authorities refused to provide further information on the incident although there was speculation drugs were involved.

Both arrests stem from search warrants executed at 3 Secor Ave. and 105 West Main St. late Thursday morning by state police detectives assigned to the district attorney's office, MCLA campus police, North Adams Police and members of the state police Violent Fugitive Apprehension section, Crime Scene Services and the Berkshire County Drug Task Force.

As a result of the execution of the search warrants items were seized from both locations.  

Police say two other juveniles ages 15 and 16 were arrested in late December in connection with the robbery. The investigation is continuing and other arrests are possible. 

Investigators are asking anyone who may have information about the robbery to call them at the MCLA Office of Public Safety at 413-662-5284.

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Donations Reach State Road Fire Victims

Andy McKeever

Ryan Tondreau lost everything but the clothing he was wearing in his State Road apartment when it was gutted by fire.

NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — After a devastating fire gutted a State Road home last month, support for the victims have come from many angles.

Donations were accepted and a fundraising dinner was held at the Polish National Alliance in Adams, both the community giving group at

 

 Sweetwood/Sweet Brook and the Red Cross donated money, a Facebook fundraiser has raised more than $2,000 from more than 60 online supporters and Compassionate Care on Massachusetts Avenue collected boxes and boxes of items. Those donations are now being put in the hands of the people who need them.

"It's really nice to see that people care," said Ryan Tondreau, who lived in the second-floor apartment. "We lost pretty much everything but what we were wearing that day."

Tondreau, who lived in the building with Carrie Goldstein, sorted through the boxes of items at Compassionate Care on Friday to stock his new apartment. Tondreau and Goldstein are currently looking for new home while they stay with Tondreau's family in Williamstown.

"We're just taking it day by day. We've been staying with my parents since it happened. We're looking at a few options but as of yet, nothing," Tondreau said as he scanned a pair of donated pants looking for a size. "There is a lot of stuff here that we won't have to re-buy. Whatever we need we'll store until we get a new place."

Tondreau and Goldstein did not have renters insurance but their downstairs neighbors, Dana and Josh Mendel, did. The Mendels told Compassionate Care to allow Tondreau to take what items he needed from the donations first. Donations were being dropped off to the Compassionate Care nearly every day since the fire and were overflowing into the hallway.

The gifts ranged from gift cards to clothing to kitchen supplies. Much of the clothing will not fit and Tondreau said that he would re-donate anything the couple could not use.

"Obviously, we won't be able to take all of the stuff but it's still really nice to see," Tondreau said.

A cause of the fire at the corner of State Roadand Protection Avenue has not been determined.

Editor's Note: State Road!! Argh, reporters!

 

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Pittsfield Couple Sues Hotel After Son Chokes On Condom

Andy McKeever

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The court will hear the case of a Pittsfield couple who is suing Hilton Hotels after her 2-year-old son choked on a used condom left by a prior guest, the Philadelphia Daily News reported on Friday.

A U.S. district justice cited "unique circumstances" that will have a jury determine if Amy Wolfe suffered emotional distress following the incident. Wolfe claims that she suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder and sees a psychiatrist, the paper reported.

According to reports at the time, Wolfe and her husband Steven were staying at Homewood Suites, owned by Hilton Hotels, in New Jersey last Jan. 2 when the 2-year-old found and began chewing on a used condom. He then began choking on it and ingested "the contents."

Wolfe was tending to another child in the bathroom when she heard the youngest of three, Ryan, choking. She ran in and removed it from his throat.

The child did not contract a sexually transmitted disease or any other illness but Wolfe claims developmental delays are a result of the trauma.

Attorneys for the hotel claim that she can not claim that because the child did not suffer serious physical injury or death, a claim that has succeeded in dismissing similar cases.

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Icy Conditions Cause Multiple Crashes in Lenox

Nichole Dupont

LENOX, Mass. — Four motor vehicle accidents involving at least 10 cars stopped traffic on routes 7 and 20 in both the north and southbound lanes early this morning.

According to a press release issued by Police Chief Stephen O’Brien, officers from the Lenox Police Department were responding to a two-car, head-on crash that occurred around 7 a.m. when other vehicles were forced off the road because of extremely icy conditions. In addition to Lenox Police, Lenox Fire Department and state police as well as County Ambulance were called to the scene to assist.

One eyewitness, Brian Sisco of Sheffield, said he was driving through Lenox at 8 a.m. on his way to work when he met up with black ice and bumper-to-bumper traffic in the north and southbound lanes.

"I was coming up through Lee on Route 20 and Lee was fine," he said. "But once Route 7 came up on the bypass that's when things got ugly. There was a road block both ways at Walker Street and they were sending people right or left. The road was definitely slick with black ice. At one point at a stop light my tires were spinning. The roads weren't sanded or salted or anything."

The first accident included what appeared to be a small light-colored pickup or sport utility vehicle with heavy front-end damage. The second vehicle was over the banking of the northbound lane. Emergency vehicles were parked along the side of the road for nearly 100 yards.

A light snow was falling over Pittsfield and South County in the early morning hours. Roadways were slushy through much of the region.

According to Sisco, traffic was backed up for at least a mile and half as police and rescue workers tried to handle one crash after another, saying there were at least three flatbeds and two tow trucks trying to clear away disabled vehicles. 

"I drove through Great Barrington at about 6:30 this morning and the roads were fine; sanded and salted. The same through Stockbridge and Lee," he said. "It did not look slippery at all. There was snow covering the roads but it just looked wet. You would think that because there are so many people who drive up Route 7 to get to work that that road would be salted as well. Pittsfield was fine, too. They had already sanded."

The road was finally opened again at 8 a.m. when it was deemed passable by police. At least eight people were transported to Berkshire Medical Center in Pittsfield. Although none were reported to have life-threatening injuries, investigators are still compiling operator and vehicle information. Police said one accident involved eight vehicles.

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