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Superior Court Briefs: Oct. 28 - Nov. 6
By Andy McKeever On: 03:34PM / Friday November 07, 2014
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Cases heard before Judge John Agostini on Tuesday, October 28.
 
David Marshall, 49, of Pittsfield pleaded guilty to single counts of distribution of lorazepam, conspiracy to violate drug laws, possession of oxycodone, and being present where heroin is kept.
 
He was placed on one-year probation. The charges stem from the execution of a search warrant at 35 Appleton Avenue in Pittsfield on February 27, 2014. A single count of drug violation in a school zone was dismissed by the state.
 
Jason Gendron, 35, of Pittsfield pleaded guilty to six counts of rape and abuse of a child and four counts of indecent assault and battery on a child.
 
He was ordered to serve 25 to 30 years at the Massachusetts Correctional Institution at Cedar Junction on the rape charge. He was given concurrent nine to ten years on the other charges.
 
The incidents occurred in Pittsfield between August 25, 2011 and March 1, 2013. The victims are three girls now ages 6, 8, and 15.
 
Cases heard before Judge John Agostini on Wednesday, October 29.
 
Stephanie Carsno, 30, of Pittsfield pleaded guilty to single counts of possession of heroin with intent to distribute and possession of cocaine with intent to distribute.
 
She was ordered to serve concurrent one and a half to three years at the Massachusetts Correctional Institution at Cedar Junction. The charges stem from a drug transaction that took place in Pittsfield on May 20, 2014.   
 
Justin Daley, 26, of Lee pleaded guilty to single counts of distribution of cocaine and drug violation in a school zone.
 
He was ordered to serve one day at the Berkshire Count House Correction on the distribution of cocaine charge. He was given two years on the school zone violation. 
 
The charge stem from the sale of cocaine in Lee on January 15, 2014. Two counts of distribution of cocaine and single counts of possession of cocaine with intent to distribute and drug violation in a school zone were dismissed by the state.  
 
Christopher Letalien, 30, of North Adams pleaded guilty to single counts of larceny of a firearm, illegal possession of a firearm, conspiracy to commit larceny and misleading a police officer.
 
He was ordered to serve concurrent two-year sentences at the Berkshire County House of Correction. The charges stem from the theft of a hand fun in North Adams on June 14, 2011.
 
Cases heard before Judge John Agostini on Monday, November 3.
 
Nicholas McNeil, 35, of Pittsfield pleaded guilty to four counts of breaking and entering a motor vehicle in the daytime, and single counts of unarmed robbery on a victim 60 years or older, larceny from a building, receiving stolen property over $250 and possession of Percocet.
 
He was ordered to serve concurrent four to six years at the Massachusetts Correctional Institution at Cedar Junction on the breaking and entering and unarmed robbery charges. He was given concurrent four to five years on larceny from a building and receiving stolen property. He was given concurrent time on the possession of Percocet.
 
The charges stem from a series of break ins in Pittsfield between November 15, 2013 and December 20, 2013.
 
Christine Barrett, 38, of Stamford, Vt. pleaded guilty to single counts of distribution of cocaine and conspiracy to violate drug laws.
 
She was placed on one-year probation. The incident occurred in North Adams on July 11, 2013.
 
Cases heard before Judge John Agostini on Tuesday, November 4.
 
Tyquawn Davis, 21, of Springfield had not guilty pleas entered on his behalf on two counts of conspiracy to violate drug laws, and single counts trafficking in cocaine and possession of heroin with intent to distribute.
 
He was released on personal recognizance. The charges stem from the execution of a search warrant at 236 Columbus Avenue in Pittsfield on September 25, 2014.
 
Paul Dugal Jr., 52, of North Adams had not guilty pleas entered on his behalf on single counts of operating a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol - his fourth offense - and operating to endanger.
 
The charge is in connection with a motor vehicle accident in North Adams on August, 5, 2014. He was released on personal recognizance.
 
William Lowe, 35, of Pawtucket, R.I. pleaded guilty to single counts of motor vehicle homicide and operating to endanger and possession of an open container of alcohol in a motor vehicle.
 
He was ordered to serve 343 days of a two-year sentenced at the Berkshire County House of Correction on the motor vehicle homicide. He was also placed on one-year probation. The other charge was placed on file.
 
The charges stem from a two-vehicle crash in Williamstown on November 24, 2013, which claimed the life of 64-year-old Lawrence George of Pownal, Vt. 
 
Single counts of speeding and failure to stay within marked lanes were dismissed by the state.
 
Brandon Phillips, 28, of Pittsfield had not guilty pleas entered on his behalf on single counts of distribution of cocaine and conspiracy to violate drug laws.
 
He was released on personal recognizance. The incident allegedly occurred in Pittsfield on June 29, 2011.
 
Cases heard before Judge Paul Vrabel on Tuesday, November 4.
 
Lameek Thomas, 25, of Pittsfield had not guilty pleas entered on his behalf on single counts of possession of cocaine with intent to distribute, possession of marijuana with intent to distribute, possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony, possession of a firearm without a firearm identification card - his second offense - possession of ammunition without a firearm identification card and improper storage of a firearm.
 
He was ordered to be held at the Berkshire County House of Correction on $10,000 cash or $100,000 surety bail. The charges stem from the execution of a search warrant at his home on November 4, 2014.
 
Cases heard before Judge Michael Ripps on Tuesday, November 4.
 
Geraldo Martel, 25, of New Bedford had a not guilty plea entered on his behalf on a single count of armed robbery while masked.
 
Martel is accused of robbing the Cumberland Farms in North Adams on September 10, 2014. He was ordered to be held at the Berkshire County House of Correction on $100,000 cash or $1 million surety bail. He will be back in court on Dec. 5 for a bind over hearing.
 
Martel was arrested in New Bedford on November 4, 2014.
 
Cases heard before Judge John Agostini on Wednesday, November 5.
 
Alyssa Wylde, 23, of Adams pleaded guilty to single counts of larceny from a building and malicious destruction of personal personal property.
 
The charges are in connection to a break in a home in Adams between September 12, 2013 and November 5, 2013.
 
She was sentenced to serve 18 months at the Berkshire County House of Correction on the larceny of a building charge. She was given one-year probation on the other charge.
 
Deker Witter, 32, of Bronx, N.Y. pleaded guilty to two counts of conspiracy to violate drug laws, and single counts of trafficking cocaine, possession heroin with intent to distribute, possession of cocaine with intent to distribute, distribution of cocaine.
 
The charges are in connection with incident in North Adams between January 1, 2013 and November 26, 2013.
 
He was ordered to serve concurrent three and a half to four years at the Massachusetts Correctional Insitution at Cedar Junction. 
 
A single count of assault and battery by means of a dangerous weapon and two counts of intimidation of a witness or other person was dismissed by the state.
 
Those incidents allegedly occurred in North Adams between July 17, 2013 and July 29, 2013.
 
Cases heard before Judge John Agostini on Thursday, November 6.
 
Richard Smith, 24, of Bronx, N.Y. pleaded guilty to a single count of aggravated assault and battery in connection with an incident that occurred in North Adams on May 6, 2013 and involved a 41-year-old woman.
 
Smith also pleaded guilty to two counts of assault by means of a dangerous weapon and a single count of assault and battery in connection with an incident in North Adams on July 2, 2013 and involved two men, ages 44 and 54.
 
He was ordered to serve concurrent two-year sentences at the Berkshire County House of Correction.
 
Single counts of aggravated rape, assault by means of a dangerous weapon, home invasion, larceny from a person and four counts of assault and battery was dismissed by the state.


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North Adams Man Arrested in Rash of Dumpster Fires
Staff Reports On: 09:29PM / Sunday November 02, 2014
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Scott Baker

NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Police say they have caught an a man believed responsible for nearly a dozen trash container and other fires over the past month.

Scott Baker was arrested on Sunday and charged with eight counts of burning a personal property (a Dumpster) and two counts of burning leaves.

The investigation began Sept. 25 when a trash container behind the North Adams Juvenile Court on Center Street was set on fire — continued to be set on fire on a weekly basis.

There were also two additional incidents on Friday, Halloween, during which piles of leaves were set on fire behind the North Adams Public Library and the old Notre Dame Church on East Main Street. The trash container behind North Adams Juvenile Court was also set on fire the same night.

Baker was apprehended based on video surveillance of the trash container behind the North Adams Juvenile Court. He was noticed walking on Ashland Street by officers shortly after the fire was extinguished. Baker was wearing the same clothes upon apprehension as he was when he set the trash container on fire, said police.

Baker is being held on $1,040 cash bail and will be arraigned in Northern Berkshire District Court on Monday.



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North Adams Apartment Fire Forces Families Out
By Tammy Daniels On: 05:41PM / Sunday November 02, 2014
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A fire in a back unit of a Loftus Street apartment building forces five families from their homes.

NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Five families were forced from their homes on Sunday afternoon after the rearmost unit in a River Street apartment building caught fire.

Crystal Fitzpatrick, who had lived in the back unit with her three daughters since March, said she was at the market when her teenage daughter, Karizme, called to tell her their home was on fire.

"I had to ask someone for a ride," she said. "I got there and it was full of smoke. I dropped everything and started throwing water at the wall."

Fitzpatrick and Karizme were able to get out of the apartment with their rabbit. The two younger girls, Serenity and Destiny, were at a friend's house. Two hamsters on the first floor were rescued unharmed but much of their belongings were likely lost, including a cache of Christmas presents, according to the girl's grandmother, Eddine Fitzpatrick.

Fire Director Stephen Meranti said firefighters responded to the smoke alarm activation, which came in at about 3:13 p.m., and were informed en route that there was confirmed smokes and flames coming from the building at the corner of Loftus and River streets. All off-duty firefighters were called in.

Firefighters found a blaze on the first floor had moved up the wall into the attic area in the back unit of the two-story structure. The older balloon construction with no fire stops and little insulation helped the fire spread through the back exterior wall.

"It was a quick response and an aggressive attack," Meranti said, that contained the blaze before it could spread to adjoining apartments and close by buildings. "These guys did a great job."

Firefighters brought in hoses through the first floor and used the ladder truck to ventilate the ceiling, leaving a large hole in the roof. The adjacent apartment was also entered but was determined to be safe.

The unit received extensive water and smoke damage, although firefighters did what they could to cover the items in side.

River Street was closed between Veazie and Brown streets for several hours; North Adams Ambulance Service, the Wire & Alarm Division and health inspector were also on scene. A fire watch is in place at the building.

Crystal Fitzpatrick believed the fire may have been electrical because it was in the wall; she said she had been having problems with some of the outlets. Meranti said the cause had not yet been determined and that it was under investigation. The building is owned by Michael Deep, who also was at the scene.

Tenants gathered outside the building in the chilly temperatures, several without overcoats or proper footwear because of how quickly they had fled the building. Karizme Fitzpatrick was wrapped up on the ground in a sleeping bag with her bunny, Foo-foo, to keep warm.

"The whole thing was smoking," said Eddine Fitzpatrick, as she comforted Karizme and her mother. "She's afraid everything's gone."

Fitzpatrick said she had had the two bedrooms for the girls redone and expected that all their clothing, if not burnt, was now severely damaged. The Christmas presents stashed in the attic by the chimney were likely gone, too, she said.

Power was cut to all the apartments and tenants were expected to be helped tonight by the Red Cross. Mingling around in the chill wind, they hugged each other in commiseration and wondered what was next.

"Why do these things happen to us when we're working so hard to get ahead?" wondered one woman.



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Two Students Arrested at Different Schools with Loaded Weapons
Staff Reports On: 03:13PM / Thursday October 30, 2014
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PITTSFIELD, Mass. — A high school student and a college student were found with loaded weapons this week after each created a disturbance at their respective campuses.

On Tuesday night, a Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts student was arrested at the North Adams campus after becoming belligerent during an evening class. Chris LaFrance, 25, was allegedly intoxicated when campus police pepper sprayed him; upon arresting him, police said they found a loaded handgun on his person. While reportedly licensed to carry a firearm, LaFrance is facing a number of charges related to the incident and the public school where he had been training was apprised of his arrest and terminated his participation.

Pittsfield school officials say a Taconic High School student was arrested Thursday morning for creating a disturbance and a loaded gun was found on his person.

At no point was the weapon made visible to any student or staff member at Taconic, according to officials.

The Taconic administration said it is working with the Pittsfield Police Department to further investigate the matter.  

"Principal Vosburgh and his staff followed Pittsfield Public School safety protocol to the letter. School administration and Pittsfield Police effectively took all appropriate measures to efficiently address the situation and safeguard the school community," said Mayor Daniel Bianchi in a statement. "I am confident in Dr. McCandless' leadership and the professionalism of school staff as we continue to collaborate with community partners."

McCandless, Pittsfield Public Schools superintendent, said safety protocols are in place at all schools and are practiced regularly. The school community and parents will be kept informed, he said.

"The safety and concern of our students is the highest priority. All schools in the district have safety response protocols and procedures in place. Families are encouraged to partner with the school administration regarding any information that could be of assistance to help continue to maintain a safe and secure environment," according to a press release from City Hall.



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Local Man Sentenced to Life After Guilty Plea in North Adams Murder
Staff Reports On: 04:19PM / Tuesday October 28, 2014
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David Delratez at his arraignment last year after being apprehended in Bennington, Vt. Delratez was sentenced to life imprisonment on Tuesday.
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — David A. Delratez has been sentenced to life imprisonment after pleading guilty to last year's murder of 84-year-old Ellen DePaoli in North Adams. 
 
Delratez, of North Adams, pleaded guilty in Berkshire Superior Court on Tuesday afternoon to murder in the second degree and to several other charges. 
 
He was apprehended only days after the discovery of DePaoli's body in her Walker Street home on the evening of Sept. 17, 2013. 
 
Delratez, 42, who had known DePaoli for years, had initially claimed he had gone to visit her when one or more men had forced their way into her home, struck and killed her, and made him drive them away.
 
DePaoli was well-liked in the community and had been the cafeteria manager at Drury High School for many years. 
 
Delratez was found in possession of her stolen car in Bennington, Vt., and arrested on outstanding warrants by Bennington Police. He had pleaded not guilty in his initial appearances in court.  
 
On Tuesday, he pleaded guilty to single counts of murder in the second degree and larceny of a motor vehicle in connection with DePaoli's murder. He also pleaded guilty to single counts of breaking and entering with intent to commit a misdemeanor and malicious destruction of property less than $250, related to an incident in Clarksburg on Sept. 13, 2013.
 
Judge John J. Agostini ordered that Delratez serve a life sentence at the Massachusetts Correctional Institution at Cedar Junction on the murder charge. 
 
He was given a concurrent three to four-year state prison sentence on the larceny charge and concurrent House of Correction sentences on the other charges. 
 
However, he is eligible for parole after serving 15 years, according to the district attorney's office. 
 
The investigation was conducted by the North Adams Police Department, state police detectives assigned to the district attorney's office, officers from the Pittsfield Police Department and deputies from the Berkshire County sheriff's department, and members of the Berkshire County Law Enforcement Task Force. 


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Groundbreaking Ceremony Held at New Williamstown Senior Housing
Shakespeare In the Park Will Resume At Pittsfield Common
Park Street Reconstruction Will Be Completed In Spring
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