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Superior Court Briefs: Nov. 15 - Dec. 1

Staff Reports
Cases heard before Judge John Agostini on Tuesday, Nov. 15.
 
Brian Schaffer, 60, of Lee, pleaded guilty to four counts of possession of child pornography.
 
He was given a two-year suspended sentence at the Berkshire County House of Correction and placed on three-years probation.
 
Schaffer was in possession of child pornography in Lee on August 1, 2015.
 
Cases heard before Judge John Agostini on Wednesday, Nov. 16.
 
Russell Allison, 43, of Pittsfield, had not guilty pleas entered on his behalf on single counts of illegal possession of a firearm, illegal possession of a loaded firearm, armed career felon, and assault by means of a dangerous weapon.
 
He was ordered to be held at the Berkshire County House of Correction on $5,000 bail. The charges stem from an incident in Pittsfield on October 4, 2016.
 
Clinton Jennings, 32, of Pittsfield had not guilty pleas entered on his behalf on single counts of aggravated rape, threat to commit a crime to wit: murder, and breaking and entering in the daytime. 
 
He was ordered to be held at the Berkshire County House of Correction on $5,000 bail. The incident allegedly occurred in Pittsfield on September 26, 2016 and the alleged victim is a 27-year-old woman.
 
Reymon Delacruz-Batista, 27, of Pittsfield, pleaded guilty to single counts of trafficking in cocaine, possession of heroin with intent to distribute, and illegal ownership of a firearm.
 
He was ordered to serve concurrent three to four years at the Massachusetts Correctional Institution at Cedar Junction on the trafficking in cocaine and heroin charges. He was given a concurrent two-year sentence at the Berkshire County House of Correction on the other charge.
 
The charges stem from the execution of a search warrant at his Dalton Avenue home on June 18, 2015. A single count of possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony was dismissed by the state.
 
Jarritt White, 35, of Pittsfield, was found guilty of single counts of illegal ownership of a firearm, and improper storage of a firearm.
 
He was released on personal recognizance pending sentencing. On Thursday, he was sentenced to one-year of a two-year sentence at the Berkshire County House of Correction on the illegal ownership of a firearm and placed on two-years probation on the other charge. He was also given a $1,250 fine.
 
While was found not guilty of single counts of possession of heroin with intent to distribute, possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony, and possession of ammunition without a firearm identification card.
 
The charges stem from the execution of a search warrant on West Housatonic Street on July 3, 2015. 
 
Cases heard before Judge John Agostini on Thursday, Nov. 16.
 
Dylan Ducharme, 21, of Pittsfield, pleaded guilty to three counts of assault by means of a dangerous weapon, and single counts of assault and battery, illegal possession of a firearm, possession of ammunition without a firearm identification card, and discharging a firearm within 500 feet of a building.
 
He was sentenced to two years at the Berkshire County House of Correction on the illegal possession of a firearm charge. He was placed on probation for two years on the assault by means of a dangerous weapon charge. He was given concurrent time on the other charges.
 
The charges stem from an incident on Hull Avenue on May 14, 2016. A single count of illegal possession of a loaded firearm was dismissed by the state.
 
Cases heard before Judge John Agostini on Monday, Nov. 28.
 
Leonel Osmin Olmedo, 27, of North Adams was found not guilty of two counts of indecent assault and battery on a person who has attained age 14 and a single count of rape.
 
Olmedo was accused of sexually assaulting a 17-year-old woman in North Adams on January 27, 2016 and February 8, 2016.
 
Roselin Dadak, 28, of Pittsfield had a not guilty plea entered on her behalf on a single count of breaking and entering a building during the daytime with intent to commit a felony.
 
She was released on $500 bail. Dadak is accused of breaking into the home of a 27-year-old woman in Pittsfield on September 26, 2016. 
 
Cases heard before Judge John Agostini on Thursday,Dec. 1.
 
Alan Vigiard, 51, of Adams had not guilty pleas entered on his behalf on two counts of possession of child pornography and a single count of dissemination of child pornography.
 
He was ordered to be held at the Berkshire County House of Correction on $50,000 bail. The incident allegedly occurred in Adams on May 27, 2016.
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Pittsfield Teen Accosted On Elm Street

Staff Reports
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Police are looking for a man who accosted a 17-year-old girl on Elm Street on Monday afternoon.
 
Police say the teenager was approached by the suspect shortly after 2 p.m. in the area on Elm between Ontario Street and Elmhurst Avenue. The girl was not injured.
 
Police are looking for a man described at being white with brown hair, in his late 20s, having a medium build, standing between 5-foot-6 and 5-foot-8 and being either slightly bald or having or crew cut. He was wearing a blue hooded sweat shirt and tan colored pants. He was last seen running onto Putnam Avenue.
 
Anyone who witnessed it or has information is asked to contact the detective bureau at 413-448-9705 or tips can be made anonymously through the drug tips hotline at 413-448-9708 or texting PITTIP and the message to 847411.
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Pittsfield Man Pleads Guilty to MassHealth Fraud

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — A Pittsfield man has pleaded guilty and been sentenced in connection with making duplicative claims for personal care services, resulting in an overpayment of approximately $82,000 in funds from the state's Medicaid Program (MassHealth), $46,500 of which was paid directly to him, Attorney General Maura Healey announced on Monday.

Frederick Phillips, 56, pleaded guilty in Berkshire Superior Court to charges of Medicaid fraud and larceny more than $250 by false pretenses.

"This defendant defrauded a system that provides vital health-care services to people with chronic or long-term disabilities," Healey said in a statement. "He took advantage of his role as caretaker for his brother to steal taxpayer dollars and divert critical resources from people in need."

After the plea was entered, Superior Court Judge John Agostini sentenced Phillips to two years in the Berkshire County House of Corrections, suspended for a probationary period of three years. During the that period, Phillips must refrain from illegal drug use, enter substance abuse counseling, and is prohibited from being a MassHealth provider.

The attorney general's investigation revealed that between March 2011 and November 2013, Phillips submitted fraudulent information to MassHealth's Adult Foster Care Program. Phillips, the AFC caretaker for his brother, billed MassHealth for AFC services knowing that his brother was receiving duplicative Personal Care Attendant (PCA) Program services at the same time.

MassHealth funds both programs, allowing members with chronic or long-term disabilities to live independently and remain in their communities. In both programs, caretakers assist with daily living activities such as taking medications, dressing, going to the bathroom and bathing. Under AFC regulation, MassHealth will not pay for AFC services if a member is receiving PCA services at the same time.

A Berkshire County Grand Jury returned indictments against Phillips in February 2016.

This case was handled by Assistant Attorney General Evelyn Y. Tang of AG Healey's Medicaid Fraud Division and investigated by Investigators April Waterhouse and Michael Russo, also of the Medicaid Fraud Division. The Boston office of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General assisted with the investigation.

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Teen in Critical Condition Following Pittsfield Shooting

Staff Reports
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — A 17-year-old is in critical condition following a Friday night shooting.
 
Police did not identify the male victim but said officers responded to shots being fired in the area of 391 North St. - the address of Methuselah Bar and Lounge - Friday night at 11:28 p.m. Upon arrival, police found the victim with a single gunshot wound to the torso.
 
The 17-year-old is believed to in be stable but critical condition, police said Monday.
 
The shooting is being investigated by the detective bureau, along with assistance form crime scene services and the drug unit. Anyone with information is asked to contact the department at 413-448-9700 or through the drug tips hotline - 413-448-9708 - or texting 847411.
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North Adams Apartment Fire Forces Out Five Families

By Tammy Daniels
iBerkshires Staff

NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — At least 20 people were forced from their apartments on Wednesday afternoon after a fire broke out in the attic above one of the units.

The report of a fire in one of the rear units in the six-apartment building on Crossey Place came in before 3 p.m. The call came into dispatch from a resident in the apartment who said her walls were warm and "turning black."

"There was a report of the walls turning black and paint bubbling on the walls, said Fire Chief Stephen Meranti. "We did indeed find the wall turning black and the paint bubbling."

An all-call was put out to bring in off-duty firefighters; three engines including the ladder truck were at the scene along with police, North Adams Ambulance Service and Animal Control.

"When we came down the street, smoke was coming out of the eaves all along the whole building, so that's when I initially called for an all-call," said acting Lt. Stefan Lamarre, who arrived with D group. Meranti had already called for A group to get them rolling. "Luckily there wasn't much of a fire load up there so it didn't spread. It could have been a heck of a lot worse."

The attic bay on the long two-story building is open all the way through, which could have led to a much worse fire, Meranti said.

"It appears to be knob and tube wiring in the attic with insulation blown around it," he said, which did not allow for heat from the wires to dissipate, plus a cabinet was on top of that section of the attic floor. "It heated up in the joist space and extended through several bays and dropped down."

The key to containing the fire was the speed at which the first group got in, located it and got a line on it, Meranti said. "It was good work by the guys that initially hit this."

Police Sgt. James Burdick said one of the hydrants near the structure didn't work and would be addressed to the city but everything else went smoothly. No one was injured and River Street was blocked between Houghton and Brown.

"We had people on scene in less than a minute," he said.

Meranti said everyone works together as a team.

The occupants, numbering between 20 and 25, were quickly evacuated from the structure but found themselves standing in the snow in frigid temperatures. Porches Inn opened up its lobby to keep them warm until the Red Cross could arrive and situate them for the night. Building owner Michael Deep also arrived to speak with his tenants. 

The damage appeared to be contained to the back two units, which suffered fire, smoke and water damage. The back units cannot be occupied until the electrical repairs and some structural work is completed. The rest of the apartments escaped damage but the power was shut off.

"They do have an electrician on site and he's going to try to get power so no one loses their Thanksgiving food that's in the freezers," Meranti said. "We're trying to get everything back on so they can get back in for Thanksgiving. That's our goal."

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