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Superior Court Briefs: April 23 - April 25

Staff Reports

Cases heard before Judge Daniel Ford on Tuesday, April 23.

Anthony Thompson, 33, of Pittsfield pleaded guilty to a single count of participating in betting.

The case was continued without a finding. Thompson admitted to using illegal poker machines in Pittsfield on April 27, 2012.

Cases heard before Judge Daniel Ford on Thursday, April 25.

Daniel Lowenstein, 22, of Amherst, had not guilty pleas entered on his behalf on three counts of distribution of marijuana and single counts of possession of a sawed-off shotgun, illegal possession of a firearm, possession of a firearm with a defaced serial number, possession of marijuana with intent to distribute and operating a motor vehicle under the influence of drugs.

Lowenstein was released on $5,000 cash or $50,000 surety bail. Lowenstein allegedly sold marijuana to an undercover police officer in Great Barrington on Feb. 23, March 2 and March 9. He was allegedly in possession of marijuana with the intent to sell on March 9. The other charges are also alleged to have occurred in Great Barrington on March 9.

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Pittsfield Residence Heavily Damaged by Fire

By Andy McKeever
iBerkshires Staff

Firefighters knocked down a blaze at a home on Columbus Avenue.

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Firefighters responded to a two-alarm fire Tuesday afternoon at 237 Columbus Ave.

The fire in the two-story home was reported at 1:18 p.m. The occupant and two cats and two small dogs escaped the building.

Heavy black smoke was pouring from the upper floors of the home; flames could be seen shooting from back of the building.

"As they pulled out of headquarters, they had a large column of fire and smoke coming right up in front of them," said Fire Chief Robert Czerwinski.

He said the first deputy on the scene requested a second alarm; the 19 firefighters on duty responded and off-duty ones were called in to cover the station.

The building incurred heavy damage and is likely to be condemned. The fire started on the east side and quickly spread into the attic.

"The siding on this building is an old asphalt-shingle siding that we commonly refer to as 'gasoline siding' and it really propogates a fire very quickly," said Czerwinski. "It was that siding that created a lot of fire and a lot of smoke."

The building, which dates to 1850, is a single-family home that at some point had been renovated into three apartments, according to city records, but was restored to a single-family again.

The fire chief recalled there had been some spot fires in the building eight or 10 years ago and it was a vacant single-family at that time. "I didn't realize somebody was in here trying to rehabilitate it," he said.

Czerwinski expected crews to be on the scene the rest of the afternoon as the cause of the blaze is investigated. The American Red Cross also provided one adult who was displaced by the fire with shelter, food, clothing and a comfort kit and provided food and drinks to the first responders. The Red Cross will follow up with the affected individual in the coming days.

"We have crews right now that are working in the attic trying to make sure that's out," he said. "You can see the light smoke, that's probably a deep-seated fire in there it will take a little while to get through there."

The property is owned by Columbus Avenue Realty Trust, according to documents on file with the Middle Berkshire Registrar of Deeds.

Columbus Avenue was closed to traffic between Robbins Avenue and Francis Avenue as firefighters deployed equipment. 

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Stamford House Fire Extinguished Thursday Morning

Stamford Volunteer Fire Company

Firefighters quickly snuffed a fire reported in  a kitchen at Jepson Road on Thursday morning.

STAMFORD, Vt. — A fire at 316 Jepson Road on Thursday morning left a home with extensive heat and smoke damage.

About 20 firefighters responded to the fire, which was reported at 5:57 a.m, and the scene was cleared by 8:30.
"When we first arrived, fire was venting out the kitchen window, and the family was already out of the house," said Fire Chief Paul Ethier. "Our guys did a good job and knocked it down pretty quickly with one hand line and foam."
Ethier said the entire family was out of the house and safe when fire crews first arrived at 6:01 a.m.
"The family was in bed and was alerted to the fire by working smoke detectors," he said.
The cause has yet to be determined, but is not considered suspicious. The home is insured and the American Red Cross was notified of the fire an provided assistance to the family.
Clarksburg Volunteer Fire Company and the North Adams Ambulance Service were also on the scene.
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Superior Court Briefs: April 11 - April 18

Staff Reports

Cases heard before Judge Daniel Ford on Thursday, April 11.

Gerald Gaetani, 63, of Pittsfield had not guilty pleas entered on his behalf on 12 counts of illegal possession of a large capacity feeding device, three counts of improper storage of a large capacity firearm, two counts illegal possession of an assault weapon, two counts of illegal ownership of a firearm and single counts of possession of ammunition without a firearm identification card, possession of a firearm with a defaced serial number and improper storage of a firearm.

He was released on $10,000 cash or $100,000 surety bail. The charges stem from the execution of a search warrant at his home on March 3, 2013.

Cases heard before Judge Daniel Ford on Tuesday, April 16.

Keith Otto, 53, of Hinsdale had not guilty pleas entered on his behalf on six counts of knowingly possessing visual material of a child depicted in sexual conduct and a single count of dissemination of visual material of a child in a state of nudity or sexual conduct.

He was released on personal recognizance. The incidents allegedly occurred in Hinsdale between November 9, 2012 and January 24, 2013.

John Jones, 36, of Ashley Falls had not guilty pleas entered on his behalf on single counts of larceny - ongoing and continuing offense - and making false entries into corporate books.

He was released on personal recognizance. Jones allegedly took approximately $65,000 while employed at Kenver Limited in Egremont between November 1, 2010 and February 11, 2012.

David Jones Jr., 30, of Adams pleaded guilty to 19 counts of breaking and entering in the daytime with intent to commit a felony, 15 counts of larceny from a building, two counts of receiving stolen property over $250 and single counts of larceny over $250, attempt to commit a crime - to wit: breaking and entering in the daytime, and receiving stolen property under $250.

He was sentenced to four to seven years at the Massachusetts Correctional Institution at Cedar Junction on the breaking and entering charge. He was given concurrent time on the other charges.

The charges stem from a series of house breaks in Adams, Cheshire, Florida, North Adams, Savoy and Williamstown between April 1, 2011 and September 1, 2011.

Nine counts of malicious destruction of personal property over $250 were dismissed by the state.

Arthur Jones III, 43, of Weymouth had not guilty pleas entered on his behalf on two counts of assault and battery on a person age 60 or older and single counts of kidnapping, unarmed robbery and larceny under $250.

He was ordered to be held at the Berkshire County House of Correction on $25,000 cash or $250,000 surety bail.

The charges stem from an incident in New Ashford involving a 60 year old man on March 19, 2013 and March 20, 2013.

Cases heard before Judge Daniel Ford on Thursday, April 18.

Raymond Yetz, 59, of Pittsfield had a not guilty plea entered on his behalf on a single count of failing to register as a sex offender - his second offense.

He was released on $5,000 cash or $50,000 surety bail. Yetz allegedly failed to register as a sex offender in Pittsfield between December 1, 2012 and January 8, 2013.

Anthony Green, 27, of Pittsfield pleaded guilty to a single count of possession of cocaine with intent to distribute.

He was sentenced to serve nine months at the Berkshire County House of Correction and will begin serving his sentence on May 17.

The charge stems from the execution of a search warrant at 466 Fenn Street in Pittsfield on September 26, 2012.

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Driver in Dead Man's Curve Crash Facing Charges

Staff Reports

The driver of the tractor-trailer that crashed last week is facing multiple charges.

FLORIDA, Mass. — The driver of a tractor-trailer that flipped over on Dead Man's Curve last Wednesday is facing multiple charges and the loss of his commercial driver's license.

Clement Leslie, 51, of Vineland, N.J., is still at Berkshire Medical Center in Pittsfield, where he is expected to undergo another surgery on Thursday.

State Trooper David McKearney of the Cheshire Barracks said Wednesday that he had served Leslie at the hospital with charges of operating to endanger, failure to stay within marked lanes and speeding.

"We believe he was reading a magazine while he was driving," he said. McKearney said Leslie told him that he took the turn too fast.

The accident is still under investigation.

The accident occurred at about 4:40 p.m. on April 11 and closed the state highway between Whitcomb Hill Road and Charlement until 2 the following morning. The load of lime Leslie was hauling was dumped across the steep incline above the Cold River when the truck crashed onto the guardrails. It took more than an hour to extricate Leslie from his crushed cab.  

McKearney, who has a background in federal and state trucking regulations, said Leslie was also in violation of the commercial vehicle enforcement section of federal truck laws. Some were mechanical issues with the truck that "were not contributory to the accident," said McKearney.

"The most important violation is the 14-hour rule," he said. Drivers by law are not allowed to drive beyond the 14th-hour of coming on duty, which for Clement was 2:30 p.m. "He should not have been on the road."

Leslie also failed to take a Breathalyzer within eight hours or a drug test within 32 hours of the accident, as required by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.

Leslie was driving for Paladino Farms of Rosenhayn, N.J. McKearney said they would move to immediately suspend his CDL license out of New Jersey.  

"We're going to do every thing we can to keep him from driving again," said the trooper.


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