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Superior Court Briefs: Sept. 19 - Sept. 22

Staff Reports
Cases heard before Judge John Agostini on Monday, September 19.
 
Brian Whittaker, 32, of Pittsfield had not guilty pleas entered on his behalf on single counts of possession of heroin with intent to distribute - his second offense - conspiracy to violate drug laws, and possession of cocaine with intent to distribute.
 
He was released on $1,000 bail. The charges stem from a motor vehicle stop in Pittsfield on July 25, 2016.
 
Kelly McLenna, 50, of Pittsfield had a not guilty plea entered on her behalf on a single count of larceny from a building.
 
She was released on personal recognizance. The charge is association with an alleged theft of money from Zenner's Package and Variety in Pittsfield on April 22, 2016.
 
Khrystyna Nielson, 25, of Pittsfield had not guilty pleas entered on her behalf on single counts of possession of heroin with intent to distribute, conspiracy to violate drug laws, possession of oxycodone, and possession of clonazepam.
 
She was released on $500 bail. The charges stem from a motor vehicle stop in Pittsfield on July 25, 2016.
 
Jeremy Levernoch, 34, of Hinsdale had not guilty pleas entered on his behalf on single counts of possession of heroin with intent to distribute, conspiracy to violate drug laws, and possession of clonazepam.
 
He was released on $1,000 bail. The charges stem from a motor vehicle stop in Pittsfield on July 25, 2016.
 
Cases heard before Judge John Agostini on Tuesday, September 20.
 
Devon James Jr., 26, of Wilbraham pleaded guilty to single counts of possession of heroin with intent to distribute and operating a motor vehicle with a suspended license.
 
He was ordered to serve two and a half years at the Berkshire County House of Correction on the possession of heroin with intent to distribute charge. He was given a concurrent one-day sentence on the other charge.
 
The charges stem from a motor vehicle stop in Pittsfield on April 18, 2015.
 
Austin Litchfield, 19, of Peru had a not guilty plea entered on his behalf on a single count of attempt to commit murder.
 
He was released on $1,000 bail. The charge stems from an incident in Savoy on June 13, 2016 involving a 27-year-old man.
 
Joshua Litchfield, 27, of Peru had a not guilty plea entered on his behalf on a single count of assault by means of a dangerous weapon.
 
He was released on personal recognizance. The charge stems from an incident in Savoy on June 13, 2016 involving a 27-year-old man.
 
Jennifer Thurston, 44, of Adams had not guilty pleas entered on her behalf on 29 counts of uttering a false check, 29 counts of forgery of a check, and a single count of larceny, an ongoing and continuing offense over $250.
 
Thursday is accused of taking approximately $23,000 between December 15, 2015 and April 1, 2016 from Jiminy Peak while employed there.
 
Cases heard before Judge John Agostini on Thursday, September 22.
 
Jose Liriano-Vasquez, 30, of Pittsfield was found guilty by a jury on single counts of possession of heroin with intent to distribute, and possession of heroin.
 
He was ordered to be held without bail pending sentencing. The charges stem from the execution of a search warrant at his Harvard Street home on June 18, 2015. 
 
He found not guilty on a single count of possession of ammunition without a firearm identification card.
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Passenger Airlifted to Albany After Vermont Crash

Staff Reports

The passenger in Thursday's accident, Jordan Belliveau, 20, died of his injuries later in the day at Albany Medical Center.

WHITINGHAM, Vt. — A single-vehicle accident seriously injured a passenger early Thursday morning on Tunnel Street, a mile north of Bosley Hill Road.

It took more than an hour for the Readsboro Fire Department to extricate the passenger of a 2007 Dodge Durango that crashed into a tree at about 2 a.m. The passenger's identity was being withheld pending notification of family.

North Adams (Mass.) Ambulance Service also responded to the scene.

The driver was identified as Patrick Belliveau, 24, of Gardner, Mass. Belliveau had fled the scene, according to Vermont State Police, and was located a short time later about 4 miles away from the accident. Upon taken into custody, he was screened for alcohol and drug impairment and his blood alcohol level was determined to be .089 percent, above the limit of .08.

The passenger was air lifted by medical helicopter from the scene to Albany (N.Y.) Medical Center and is listed in critical condition. The individual suffered multiple compound fractures, internal injuries, head injuries.

Belliveau, who is charged with gross negligent operation (serious bodily injury) and leaving the scene of a crash with serious bodily injury, was treated for a fractured arm at Southwest Vermont Medical Center in Bennington. Belliveau may also be charged with driving under the influence pending the results of evidentiary tests.

The Durango was considered totaled with front end, undercarriage, passenger side damage.

Tunnel Street was closed to traffic for approximately three hours while the crash was investigated. North Adams

 Anyone with information related to this crash should contact the Vermont State Police at 802-442-5421.

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Lee Police Officer Resigns Amid Evidence Theft Investigation

Staff Reports
LEE, Mass. — A police officer has resigned while being investigated for allegedly stealing evidence.
 
The district attorney's office says Ryan Lucy, one of two evidence officers for the Lee Police Department, resigned and entered substance abuse rehabilitation treatment on Aug. 29. He is cooperating with investigators, the district attorney's office says, with an investigation regarding theft of evidence.
 
The Police Department became suspicious in late July when cash from an investigation went missing. State Police detectives were called to audit the department's evidence. 
 
A total of $1,408 in cash was found to be missing from the evidence locker from two investigations and one prior disposed criminal case. The money has been returned since the first phase of the investigation.
 
Detectives also discovered that drugs received through the department's drop box for unused medications were stolen.
 
The audit is not complete but the district attorney's office says it does not appear that any other evidence related to pending or recently completed cases has been compromised.
 
The office says no further information will be forthcoming until the investigation is completed.
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Man Dies Following Assault at Pittsfield YMCA Apartments

Staff Reports

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — A 44-year-old man died Sunday after being assaulted in the apartments operated by the Pittsfield Family YMCA.

Joseph Wirtes, 44, was allegedly assaulted by Brian Signor at the apartments Sunday morning. Wirtes was transported to Berkshire Medical Center following the assault and was pronounced dead later that day.

Signor, 27, also of the YMCA's 292 North St. residence, was arraigned on Monday on a single count of aggravated assault and battery, according to the district attorney's office. He pleaded not guilty and is being held at the Berkshire County House of Correction on $50,000 cash or surety bail.

Further charges may be forthcoming, according to the DA, pending the results of an autopsy being conducted on Monday by the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in Holyoke.

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FBI: MS-13 Member Arrested In Pittsfield

Staff Reports
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — An alleged member of a violent international street gang was arrested Thursday morning in Pittsfield by the FBI.
 
Efrain Vasquez-Yanez has been charged with conspiracy under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) and conspiracy to distribute cocaine. The State Police Violent Fugitive Apprehension Section, the U.S. Marshals Fugitive Task Force, and Pittsfield Police took Vasquez-Yanez into custody without incident Thursday. 
 
He was indicted in U.S. District Court in Boston along with 55 others of the La Mara Salvatrucha — or MS-13 — gang in January. Last week, the Federal Bureau of Investigation announced a $20,000 reward for information leading to his arrest. But no money will be paid out in this case, according to FBI officials.
 
The 33-year-old Vasquez-Yanez was born in El Salvador and was last seen in July in Everett. The FBI obtained information related to a connection to Pittsfield, which led to his arrest on Thursday.
 
The January indictment issued out of Boston accuses the gang members of various crimes including murder, attempted murder, and drug trafficking. The FBI says Vasquez-Yanez received "homeboy status" within the gang, which the FBI says is granted only to members who commit a murder and or inflict serious physical injury on a person in the name of the gang. He allegedly served as "protection" for interstate transport of cocaine loads. 
 
The FBI's wanted poster said he was considered armed and dangerous.
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Recent Entries:
Superior Court Briefs: Sept. 19 - Sept. 22
Passenger Airlifted to Albany After Vermont Crash
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