Becket Man Sentenced to State Prison for Human Trafficking
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — A Becket man pleaded guilty on Monday in Berkshire Superior Court to human trafficking charges.
Randy Lambach, 47, was sentenced to 10 to 12 years in state prison by Judge John Agostini on nine counts of human trafficking, seven counts of deriving support from prostitution, and single counts of intimidation of a witness, and conspiracy.
Lambach had been charged with two counts of enticing a child under the age of 16, and single counts of open and gross lewdness, and dissemination of harmful matter to a minor. Agostini ordered him to serve five years concurrently on those charges and an additional five years probation. Lambach also pled guilty to a single count of rape. Agostini ordered him to serve five to seven years in state prison, concurrently, on that charge.
In total, he will serve 10 to 12 years at the Massachusetts Correctional Institution at Cedar Junction and on probation for 10 years afterward.
The conditions of probation include that Lambach register with the sex offender registry board, have no contact with any of his victims, have no contact with children under the age of 18, complete sex offender, mental health, and drug and alcohol evaluations and comply with all related treatment recommendations and guidelines. He also must comply with drug screens and not purchase, possess or consume any regulated drugs without a valid prescription.
The Berkshire District attorney's office praised the significant effort of the Pittsfield Police Department for its lengthy investigation into the trafficking operation. The charges date back to 2014 and, for years, Lambach coerced women into forced prostitution.
"Human trafficking is one of the world's fastest growing criminal activities, operating on the same scale as the illegal trade of guns and drugs, and this case demonstrates that human trafficking occurs right here in our community," District Attorney Andrea Harrington said. "My office is working with law enforcement to empower sex-trafficking victims who are often vulnerable women who are preyed upon by greedy and brutal people. We are grateful for the diligent collaboration with the Pittsfield Police Department in holding this perpetrator accountable and making our community safer for women and girls."
Pittsfield Man Found Guilty of Rape, Assault & Battery
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — A Pittsfield man was convicted Monday of aggravated rape and assault charges by a Berkshire Superior Court jury.
Anthony Miller, 51, was found guilty of aggravated rape, strangulation, kidnapping, assault and battery with a dangerous weapon, assault and battery on a family or household member, and witness intimidation. Judge John Agostini will sentence him on Thursday, Dec. 19.
Miller severely beat, strangled, and raped the victim multiple times earlier this year. He then prevented her from leaving the home. He was arrested and arraigned in March and held without bail at the House of Corrections. Miller has a lengthy rap sheet and prior convictions of violent behavior.
"This is another example of how my office aggressively prosecutes perpetrators of domestic violence and sexual assault. We are holding Mr. Miller accountable for his actions thanks to a great investigation by the Pittsfield Police Department, the courage of the victim to tell her story, and resolute prosecution by my office," District Attorney Andrea Harrington said.
"We are addressing the serious issue of domestic violence in Berkshire County through prevention, education, and fighting for justice on behalf of victims."
The case was prosecuted by Assistant District Attorney Megan Tesoniero.
Two Get Maximum Sentences In Domestic Violence Cases
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Two men who pleaded guilty in domestic assault cases last week were given the maximum jail sentences 2 1/2 years at the Berkshire County House of Correction.
Steven Signor, 32, of Pittsfield pleaded guilty in Central Berkshire District Court to two counts of assault and battery on a household member, two counts of violating an abuse prevention order, and single counts of assault and battery on a pregnant woman, resisting arrest, intimidation of a witness, breaking and entering, and vandalism.
Judge Mark Pasquariello sentenced Signor serve 2 1/2 years, the maximum allowable sentence for a single charge in District Court.
The charges relate to four separate incidents over the last year and a half. The Berkshire district attorney's office cited Signor's repeated behavior and disregard for court orders in asking for the maximum sentence. The defense argued for a one year sentence.
Jonathan Therrien, 30, of Adams pleaded guilty in Northern Berkshire District Court to assault and battery on a household member and violation of an abuse prevention order. The charges relate to an incident on Nov. 1 in Adams.
The DA's office requested the full 2 1/2-year sentence, noting a lengthy record of similar convictions in other states. The defense asked for one year. Judge Paul Vrabel sentenced Therrien to the full sentence.
"We obtained these guilty pleas thanks to comprehensive investigations by the Pittsfield and Adams police departments and are examples of how my office is working with law enforcement to prioritize violent crime. Berkshire County has the highest domestic violence rates in the state. These statistics represent real families who are living in violent homes," District Attorney Andrea Harrington said in a statement. "We are making every effort to prevent tragedy both to the individuals who are suffering from abuse, to local law enforcement who face risk every time they respond to domestic violence incidents, and to the public at large who face increased risk of gun violence from domestic abusers."
State Police Arrests Uncover 1,000 Bags of Heroin
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — State police on Monday night arrested three people on drug charges after a traffic stop on Brown Street.
Sgt. Jorge Berrios, who is assigned to Troop B Berkshire Community Action Team (CAT), stopped a 2011 Chevrolet Cruze at about 7:45 p.m. for a motor vehicle violation. Berrios also learned, just prior to stopping the vehicle, that the registered owner has a suspended driver's license.
The driver, Clinton E. Jennings, 35, of Pittsfield, was not the registered owner and is unlicensed, according to state police. With the assistance of Troopers Amy Shaughnessy and Justin Dauplaise, who are also assigned to the CAT, the driver as well as two passengers, Traylee M. Harrington, 25, and Nicholas J. Mathes, 24, both of Pittsfield, were found to be in possession of heroin.
In total, approximately 1,000 bags of heroin was located in the vehicle, as well as several items with cocaine residue in Harrington's possession. All three were placed under arrest and transported to state police barracks in Cheshire for booking.
All three were charged with trafficking in heroin and conspiracy to violate drug laws; Jennings is also charged with unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle and improper turn, and Harrington with possession of Class B drug (cocaine).
Jennings was held on $10,000 bail. Harrington and Mathes posted $40 bail, pending their arraignment. All three were scheduled for arraignments on Tuesday in Central Berkshire District Court.
Pittsfield Man Charged with Setting A-Mart Convenience Store Blaze
Update: PITTSFIELD, Mass. — A Pittsfield man has been arrested in relation to the devastating fire that destroyed the A-Mart convenience store on Tuesday night.
Thomas Roberts, 51, was arrested Wednesday on charges of arson and injuring a firefighter.
Authorities determined the blaze as suspicious after an investigation by the Detective Bureau and Crime Scene Services, along with fire investigators. The building is most likely a total loss.
Roberts was located by members of the police anti-crime unit in a motel within the city. He is being charged with injuring a firefighter because one Pittsfield firefighter was taken to Berkshire Medical Center for a shoulder injury.
The investigators are thanking everyone who provided information, and businesses that provided access to their video surveillance systems, which enabled them to quickly resolve the case.
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The double-alarm fire that destroyed the A-Mart Convenience & Liquor Store on Tuesday night is under investigation.
Fire Chief Thomas Sammons said the structure was fully involved in flames when firefighters arrive just before 10:30 p.m.
"What we know for sure is the business closed at 10, and at 10:24 there was extensive fire in the loft area of the ceiling," he said on Wednesday. The chief said he has been in touch with investigators who are still searching for a cause.
The blaze was called in by a passerby who saw flames on the outside of the building at 524 North St. Sammons said firefighters made an initial entry into the structure and realized it was much more extensive than first expected.
"It was already running the length of that portion of the building," he said. "That whole section was involved in the ceiling area."
Firefighters made a trench cut in the roof and found fire within the ceiling space.
"This was way back from where the initial fire was on the outside of the building," Sammons said. "So nobody was allowed inside or on the roof."
The A-Mart is located in the western portion of the L-shaped building; a barber shop is in the section at the back of the parking lot and that parallels North Street.
Fire crews directed streams of water into the building and North Street was closed between Linden Street and Madison Avenue. The initial working group called a double alarm to bring in more manpower with another truck company, and an additional engine company and a ladder truck from Lenox and Dalton.
Sammons estimated it took about two hours to bring the inferno under control and crews remained on scene all night putting out hotspots.
Images on social media showed heavy smoke billowing up from North Street and flames within the building.
The popular store was open from 5 a.m. to 10 p.m. and had offered a variety of grocery, pharmacy and convenience needs, including liquor. The one thing it didn't have was gasoline.
On Wednesday morning, the area around the building was cordoned off and a fire truck was on scene. The store's jaunty sign still towered over the plaza but the owners of the structure declined to speak to media.
The business had been run by a local family for some three decades before being purchased by a Chelmsford company, Sonal Patel LLC, for $1,113,691 in September 2017.
The A-Mart section of the building is a total loss but the barbershop side was saved.
"The crews worked very hard and were able to prevent it going to the other side, the barbershop," Sammons said. "So they were able to save part of the building, at least."
The chief confirmed that one firefighter was taken to Berkshire Medical Center for treatment of a shoulder injury. The individual was treated and released with his arm in a sling but is expected to recover.
"It was a lot of hard work and the guys did a great job," the chief said.
Complete write-thru 1:48 p.m., Wednesday, Oct. 16, 2019; original post 1:24 a.m., Oct. 15.
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