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Superior Court Briefs: October 9

Staff Reports
Cases heard before Judge John Agostini on Wednesday, October 9.
 
Nathaniel Buckholz, 23, of Brooklyn, N.Y. pleaded guilty to a single count of assault and battery.
 
He was placed on one year probation. Buckholz assaulted a 21-year-old man in Williamstown on November 14, 2010.
 
Berthony Jean Baptiste, 21, of Boston had not guilty pleas entered on his behalf on single counts of assault and battery by means of a dangerous weapon, armed assault with intent to rob and larceny over $250.
 
He was ordered to be held at the Berkshire County House of Correction on $50,000 cash or $500,000 surety bail. Baptiste allegedly attempted to rob a Taxi driver near Brayton Hill Terrace in North Adams on September 9, 2013.
 
Miles Arnspiger, 24, of Pittsfield admitted to facts sufficient to warrant a guilty finding on single counts of burning a building and making a bomb threat causing public alarm.
 
The case was continued without a finding for five years on the condition that Arnspiger performs 100 hours of community service work and write letters of apology to Canyon Ranch and members of the Lenox Fire Department.
 
Arnspiger made a bomb threat and set fire to an outbuilding at Canyon Ranch while working there on May 19, 2012 and August 9, 2012.
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North Adams Pair Charged with Pot Operation

Staff Reports
iBerkshires Columnist

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."

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Superior Court Briefs: October 2.

Staff Reports
Cases heard before Judge John Agostini on Wednesday, October 2.
 
Jamel Robinson, 30, of Pittsfield had not guilty pleas entered on his behalf on single counts of possession of cocaine with intent to distribute - his second offense - and assault and battery.
 
He was released on personal recognizance. The charges stem from a domestic disturbance call at his home on July 19, 2013.
 
Debora Goyette, 43, of Pittsfield had not guilty pleas entered on her behalf on three counts of larceny - a continuing and ongoing offense - and a single count of making false entries into corporate books.
 
She was released on personal recognizance. Goyette is accused of taking approximately $100,000 from Hillcrest Commons while working there. The incidents allegedly took place between January 1, 2009 and October 5, 2012.
 
Michael Dicenzo Jr., 36, of Pittsfield had not guilty pleas entered on his behalf on single counts of larceny from a building, intimidation of a witness, larceny over $250 and violation of an abuse prevention order.
 
He was released on personal recognizance. The charges stem from incidents in Pittsfield between March 22, 2013 and July 15, 2013.
 
Teddy Cepeda, 34, of Pittsfield had not guilty pleas entered on his behalf on single counts of breaking and entering a building in the daytime, assault by means of a dangerous weapon and manufacturing cocaine.
 
He was released on personal recognizance. The charges stem from an incident in Pittsfield on May 16, 2013.
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Construction Workers Treated at North Adams Supermarket

Staff Reports
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.
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Businesses Warned of Utility Scam

Staff Reports

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.

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