Two Convicted in $300K Fraud Scheme

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PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Two area residents were found guilty this week of scamming people across multiple states out of $300,000.
Ajaykumar Chaudhari, 26, of Pownal, Vt., and Jitendra Chaudhari, 29, of Williamstown pled guilty on Monday to single counts of larceny more than $1,200 by single scheme and attempt to commit a crime to wit: larceny more than $1,200. In December, a third defendant, Parth Chaudhari, pled guilty to the same charges. 
Combined, the three defendants will pay $212,924 in restitution to the victims of the nationwide fraud scheme in a resolution of the Berkshire Superior Court case.
"The victims in this case overwhelmingly supported a resolution that would return the most money in the most timely manner while sparing them, many of whom are aging and live out of state, from having to travel to Massachusetts to testify," District Attorney Andrea Harrington said.
"I'm proud that my office found a resolution that secured guilty convictions and restored the victims' loss. I thank the Adams Police Department for their detailed and thorough investigation into this scheme."
The court required that the defendants provide restitution payments before accepting the plea, ensuring that victims get their money back quickly and in a more significant amount than through a jury trial and subsequent restitution hearing, according to the DA's office.
The three operated a multi-state scheme intended to defraud individuals through phone scams. Police in other jurisdictions in the country alerted Adams Police in March 2020 that victims were sending packages of money to addresses in the town of Adams. Adams Police and the Berkshire State Police Detective Unit assigned to the Berkshire District Attorney's Office conducted a three-month investigation. 
Police in Lanesborough, North Adams, Pittsfield, Williamstown, Hoosick Falls, N.Y., and the Berkshire County Sheriff's Office assisted. During that investigation, victims and law enforcement intercepted and returned packages victims sent totaling $106,000. In June 2020, local law enforcement executed 27 search warrants, identifying a business in Adams as serving as the headquarters.
The court filed the guilty convictions of Ajaykumar Chaudhari and Jitendra Chaudhari for two years and sentenced Parth Chaudhari to time served, which was approximately eight months.

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Pittsfield Police Advisory Board Wants Voice in Use of Body Cameras

By Brittany PolitoiBerkshires Staff

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Following the City Council's endorsement of dashboard and body cameras on Pittsfield Police, the Police Advisory Review Board would like to review the equipment's policy before anything is implemented.

Chair Ellen Maxon this week asked the board members if they would like to take a vote to support body cameras but some were unsure of their stance. Instead, the panel motioned Tuesday to request that in the event that the Police Department adopts such a program, PARB reviews the governing policies before implementation.

The conversation is in response to the death of Miguel Estrella at the hands of a police officer in late March, which has sparked a significant community response along with conversations about police accountability and the lack of mental health support.

"I still have a pretty mixed opinion because I feel like something like body cameras, people think that's going to be the end all, be all and we don't have to do any more work," board member Erin Sullivan said, adding that there is a bigger problem beyond video surveillance.

Board member Dennis Powell, who is also president of the Berkshire NAACP, wished not to share his thoughts on body cameras at the moment.  

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