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Superior Court Briefs: April 14 - April 16
Staff Reports On: 10:59AM / Friday April 18, 2014
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Cases heard before Judge Daniel Ford on Monday, April 14.

Jordan Moon, 26, of North Adams 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 cocaine.

He was released on personal recognizance. The charges stem from a motor vehicle stop in North Adams on February 26, 2014.

Kristina St. Jean, 35, of Becket had not guilty pleas entered on her behalf on five counts of reckless endangerment of a child.

She was released on personal recognizance. The incidents allegedly occurred in Pittsfield between March 1, 2012 and July 16, 2013. The alleged victims are girls ages 4,5,8,13 and 15.

David Marshall, 48, of Pittsfield had not guilty pleas entered on his behalf on single counts of distribution of Lorazepam, drug violation in a school zone, conspiracy to violate drug laws, possession of oxycodone and being present where heroin is kept.

He was released on personal recognizance. The charges stem from the execution of a search warrant at 35 Appleton Avenue in Pittsfield on February 27, 2014.

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

Raymond Yetz, 60, of Pittsfied 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 ordered to be held at the Berkshire County House of Correction on $5,000 bail. Yetz is accused of failing to register in Pittsfield between October 18, 2013 and December 24, 2013.



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Former Ambulance Manager Ordered to Repay $240K
Staff Reports On: 04:13PM / Wednesday April 16, 2014
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PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The former general manager of Village Ambulance pleaded guilty Wednesday to stealing $240,000 from the service over a five-year period.

Albert Miller, 59, pleaded guilty to a single count of larceny, an ongoing and continuing offense.

He and his wife, Cara Miller, 58, who was the service's office manager at the time, were accused of overpaying their salaries and using the service's credit card.

The couple first entered not-guilty pleas to the charges in February.

On Wednesday, Albert Miller changed his plea to guilty and was placed on three year's probation and ordered to pay the $240,000 back in restitution by Judge Daniel Ford.

Cara Miller's case is still pending.

The Millers were fired after an audit uncovered irregularities in the service's books in 2011.  The investigation was conducted by state police detectives assigned to the district attorney's office.



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Superior Court Briefs: April 8 - April 10
Staff Reports On: 02:58PM / Friday April 11, 2014
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Cases heard before Judge Daniel Ford on Tuesday, April 8.

Dylan Greiter, 24, Stephentown, N.Y. had not guilty pleas entered on his behalf on two counts of receiving stolen property over $250, two counts of wanton destruction of property and a single count of being present where heroin is kept.

He was released on personal recognizance. Greiter allegedly sold copper that belonged to Iberdrola Renewables between October 26, 2013 and November 12, 2013.

Cases heard before Judge Daniel Ford on Thursday, April 10.

Christopher Blair, 34, of Hillsdale, N.Y. had not guilty pleas entered on his behalf on single counts of unarmed robbery and larceny over $250.

He was ordered to be held at the Berkshire County House of Correction on $250,000 bail. Blair is accused of robbing the Stockbridge branch of Lee Bank on March 10, 2014.



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North Adams Apartment Fire Displaces 20 People
By Tammy Daniels On: 01:31PM / Thursday April 10, 2014
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Amanda Beckwith is reunited with one of her cats. Beckwith lives in the apartment below where the fire broke out. More photos can be seen here.

NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — About 20 people were temporarily homeless after a fire broke out early Thursday afternoon on the fourth floor of a Furnace Street apartment building.

Damage was limited to one side the eight-unit building at 132-146 Furnace St.; no was injured.

Fire Chief Stephen Meranti said it was possible the tenants in the four units on the south side of the building could return home by the end of the day, depending on the health inspector's approval.

"It's under investigation right now with the North Adams Police and Fire Departments," he said. The fire marshal's office had not been called so far. "It doesn't appear to be suspicious. We're going to do our thing and then if we need to call them, we will."

The building has a commanding view of the city's downtown and smoke could be seen from Main Street pouring from the top of building.

"Leaving the station, we could see the smoke, we called for all off-duty firefighters," said Meranti. "We got on the scene found fire on the rear porch in the roof area. ... It had extended into the attic space."

At about noon, neighbors noticed smoke and flames on the decking on the eastern side of the building. All of the occupants home at the time escaped unharmed.

"I heard crackling and then I smelled something a minute or two later ...  it was a plasticy kind of burning smell," said Amanda Beckwith, who lives in the apartment directly below where the fire started. "Then I looked out the window and saw fire [in the decking above] ... we ran out."

Beckwith, a photographer, ran back in to grab her camera. By the time she realized the seriousness of the situation, the fire trucks had arrived and she was unable to get back in to rescue her cats. By mid-afternoon, two of her pets had been removed unharmed but a three more were still inside.

Animal Control Officer Carrie Loholdt was on the scene to assist with pet recovery.

Fire trucks maneuvered the steep street to get in front of the structure and a ladder truck was used to reach and break through the roof to combat the blaze.

"We had to make sure we kept the front of the building open so we could move the ladder truck in here," Meranti said, explaining some of the difficulties in accessing the building, which is three stories on Furnace but four stories and a steep lawn facing Francis Street below.

"It's very labor intensive to fight a fire in a building like this. The guys took a real beating on this one," he said. "They did a great job getting here quickly the way they did and getting the water on it.  We prevented it from extending to the other apartments."

The Furnace and Francis streets were closed down as firefighters from the city, Adams and Clarksburg brought it under control it. North Adams Ambulance Service was on scene to provide recovery services for firefighters and Williamstown Fire Department was covering the station.

Neighbors and occupants of the building watched from Francis Street as burning shingles fell to the lawn and water poured down.

"The heat and the fire are trapped in the attic, so it's building, accelerating in the attic," said Meranti. "By opening the hole in the roof, you're directing the fire to where you want it to go.    

"So it's not extending horizontally, it's extending the fire vertically so we can get in there and get it from underneath."
 
Meranti said firefighters were successful in doing that, which prevented the blaze from reaching the apartments on the south side. The fire damage was contained to the top apartment in the northeast corner; the apartments below it suffered smoke and water damage.

The gas and electric were shut off but the owner's electrician was going to see if the power could be restored to separate units.

Nichole Bushey, who lives in the apartment where the fire started with her boyfriend, George Sawtelle, said she lost everything. Both she and Sawtelle were at work when the fire started; a friend and neighbor called to tell them what had happened.

Bushey said she'd lived in the building for about a year, but it was the second time a fire had left her homeless. She'd been living in the apartment building on Washington Avenue when it burned down around 2006.

The building's owner Charles Swabey, who owns multiple properties in the city, was confident the building was salvageable: "It's going to be around for a long time."

He said he loved the architecture of the house, which is notable for the number of wrap-around porches and balconies.  

"I bought it in 2003, it was one of the first ones we bought," he said.

Seven of the eight units were occupied and about 20 people were living in the structure. The Red Cross had been contacted.

Update: complete rewrite with comments from fire chief at 4:30 p.m.

 



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Superior Court Briefs: March 24 - April 4
Staff Reports On: 12:03PM / Friday April 04, 2014
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Cases heard before Judge John Agostini on Monday, March 24.

Kijuame Taft, 33, of Waterbury, Conn. was found not guilty of single counts of armed robbery, assault and battery by means of a dangerous weapon and intimidation of a witness or other person.

A jury found him not guilty after 15 hours of deliberation. Taft was accused of the charges in relation to an incident in Great Barrington involving a 26-year-old man on September 15, 2012.

Cases heard before Judge John Agostini on Tuesday, March 25.

Dustin Clark, 30, of New Ashford had not guilty pleas entered on his behalf on single counts of rape and indecent assault and battery on a person who has attained the age of 14.

He was released on personal recognizance. Clark is accused of sexually assaulting a 25-year-old woman in Pittsfield on November 4, 2013.

Charles Crisp, 31, of Adams had not guilty pleas entered on his behalf on single counts of being present where heroin is kept and possession of heroin.

He was released on $1,000 cash or $10,000 surety bail. The charges stem from a motor vehicle stop in North Adams on February 21, 2014.

Cases heard before Judge John Agostini on Wednesday, March 26.

Jamel Robinson, 30, of Pittsfield pleaded guilty of single counts possession of cocaine with intent to distribute and assault and battery in connection to a domestic disturbance call at his home on July 19, 2013. He pleaded guilty to single counts of possession of a counterfeit substance with intent to distribute and operating a motor vehicle with a suspended license in connection with a motor vehicle stop in Pittsfield on February 17, 2014.

Robinson was ordered to serve concurrent two-year sentences at the Berkshire County House of Correction on he assault and batter and possession of cocaine charges. He was given an addition one-year sentence at the Berkshire County House of Correction on the possession of a counterfeit substance charge. He was given concurrent time on the other charges.

Johnny Nieves, 38, of Pittsfield pleaded guilty to three counts of assault and battery by means of a dangerous weapon and a single count of assault and battery.

The charges stem from an incident in North Adams on June 15, 2013 involving a 41-year-old man and a 22-year-old woman.

He was ordered to serve 45 days at the Berkshire County House of Correction on two of the assault charges and the assault and battery charge. He was placed on probation on the other assault charge.

Cases heard before Judge John Agostini on Monday, March 31.

Charles Katz, 49, of Pittsfield had not guilty pleas entered on his behalf on two counts of drug violation in a school zone and single counts of possession of heroin with intent to distribute, distribution of heroin, conspiracy to violate drug laws and possession of lorazepam.

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 35 Appleton Avenue in Pittsfield on February 27, 2014.

Justin Gaetani, 30, of Pittsfield was found guilty of 12 counts of illegal possession of a large capacity feeding decide, three counts of improper storage of a large capacity firearm, two counts of illegal ownership of a firearm, two counts of illegal possession of a large capacity 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 ordered to be held without bail until sentencing. The charges stem from the execution of a search warrant at his home on March 3, 2013.

Judith Luczynski, 58, of Pittsfield had not guilty pleas entered on his behalf on single counts of possession of heroin with intent to distribute and drug violation in a school zone.

She was ordered to be held at the Berkshire County House of Correction on $2,500 cash or $25,000 surety bail. The charges stem from the execution of a search warrant at her home on February 27, 2014.

Kassidy Lemire, 19, of North Adams had not guilty pleas entered on her behalf on single counts of possession of heroin with intent to distribute, conspiracy to violate drug laws and possession of cocaine.

She was ordered to be held at the Berkshire County House of Correction on $5,000 bail. The charges stem from a motor vehicle stop in North Adas on February 26, 2014.

Brooklyne Schneider, 19, of North Adams had not guilty pleas entered on her behalf on single counts of possession of heroin with intent to distribute and possession of cocaine.

She was ordered to be held at the Berkshire County House of Correction on $5,000 bail. The charges stem from a motor vehicle stop in North Adams on February 26, 2014.

Recep Sarikcioglu, 29, of Pittsfield pleaded guilty to two counts of violating a restraining order and single counts of assault and battery by means of a dangerous weapon, intimidation of a witness and soliciting to commit a felony.

He was ordered to serve 55 days of a one-year sentence at the Berkshire County House of Correction on the soliciting to commit a felony charge. He was placed on two-years probation on the other charges.

He assaulted a 27-year-old woman in Pittsfield and solicited another to commit arson between May 13, 2013 and June 30, 3013. Three counts of intimidation of a witness and a single count of assault and battery were dismissed by the state.

Cases heard before Judge John Agostini on Tuesday, April 1.

Shane Hamilton, 24, of Dalton had not guilty pleas entered on his behalf on single counts of armed robbery while masked, armed assault with intent to rob, armed breaking and entering in the daytime and assault by means of a dangerous weapon.

He was ordered to be held at the Berkshire County House of Correction on $75,000 cash or $750,000 surety bail. Hamilton allegedly robbed an elderly couple in the Price Chopper parking lot in Pittsfield on March 12, 2014.

Justin Gaetani, 30, of Pittsfield was found guilty of 12 counts of illegal possession of a large capacity feeding device, three counts of improper storage of a large capacity ffirearm, two counts of illegal possession of a large capacity feeding device, 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 sentenced to serve concurrent five to eight years at the Massachusetts Correctional Institution at Cedar Junction on the illegal possession of a large capacity weapon, illegal possession of a large capacity feeding device and improper storage of a large capacity firearm. He was given concurrent time at the Berkshire County House of Correction on the other charges. The charges stem from a search warrant at his home on March 3, 2013.

Damarcus Swazy, 18, of Pittsfield had not guilty pleas entered on his behalf on single counts of armed robbery while masked and assault by means of a dangerous weapon.

He was ordered to be held at the Berkshire County House of Correction without the right to bail. Swazy allegedly held up a cab driver in Pittsfield on February 16, 2014.

Kamil Kujawa, 23, of North Adams had a not guilty plea entered on his behalf on a single count of possession of heroin with intent to distribute in connection with a motor vehicle stop in Cheshire on February 1, 2014. He also had not guilty pleas entered on his behalf on possession of heroin with intent to distribute, conspiracy to violate drug laws and possession of cocaine in connection with a motor vehicle stop in North Adams on February 26, 2014.

He was ordered to be held at the Berkshire County House of Correction on $50,000 bail.

Cases heard before Judge John Agostini on Wednesday, April 2.

Terrence Ebling Jr., 34, of Pittsfield was found guilty of single counts of leaving the scene of property damage accident and operating a motor vehicle with a suspended license. He was held without bail until sentencing.

The jury found him not guilty of operating under the influence of alcohol.

The incident occurred in Pittsfield on August 28, 2013.

Eric Cohen, 55, of New Marlborough had not guilty pleas entered on his behalf on two counts of rape.

He was ordered to be held at the Berkshire County House of Correction on $25,000 cash bail. Cohen allegedly assaulted a woman who is now 50-years old. The incidents allegedly occurred in North Adams between May 1, 2013 and May 31, 2003.

Chelsea Sigsbury, 28, of North Adams pleaded guilty to three counts of distribution of cocaine, three counts of conspiracy to violate drug laws and a single count of distribution of heroin.

She was given concurrent 177-day sentences at the Berkshire County House of Correction on two distribution of cocaine charges and single counts of distribution of heroin and conspiracy charges. She was given a two and a half year suspended sentence and placed on probation on the other charges.

The charges stem form incidents that occurred in Pittsfield between January 7, 2011 and May 5, 2011. Three counts of drug violation in a school zone was dismissed by the court.

Cases heard before Judge John Agostini on Thursday, April 3.

Terrence Ebling Jr., 34, of Pittsfield was sentenced to two years at the Berkshire County House of Correction on a single count of leaving the scene of a property damage accident. He was given a concurrent one-year sentenced on a single count of operating a motor vehicle with a suspended license.

Neyvon, Pinckney, 22, of Springfield pleaded guilty to a single count of assault and battery by means of a dangerous weapon.

He was sentenced to six months at the Berkshire County House of Correction. The charge stems from an incident in North Adams on June 15, 2013 involving a 41-year-old man.

Cases heard before Judge John Agostini on Friday, April 4.

Michael Tarpeh, 24, of Stafford, Va. had not guilty pleas entered on his behalf on single counts of carjacking, assault and battery by means of a dangerous weapon, assault and battery and larceny of a motor vehicle.

He was ordered to be held at the Berkshire County House of Correction on $200,000 bail. The charges stem from an incident that occurred at the east-bound travel plaza on the Massachusetts Turnpike in Lee on February 22, 2013.



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News Headlines
Cheshire Students Learn About Space, Robotics
Clarksburg Egg Scramble 2014 Winners
Williamstown Man to Run Marathon With Blind Athlete
Pittsfield Committee Divided on Chiefs in Civil Service
North Adams Closes Beaver Street Over Mudslide Fears
MCLA Opens New Facilities Building in North Adams
State Pothole Funds Helpful But Not Enough
Holiday Hours: Patriots Day
Pittsfield Lakefront Property Being Developed on Churchill Street
Committee Finds Leaking at Hoosac Valley High
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