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PHONE: 413-997-4529

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Pittsfield, MA 01201

gavel and scales of justice

By admin, Aug 28 2015 05:48PM

Man Acquitted of Drunken Driving Charge After Field Sobriety Test Questioned

BERKSHIRE EAGLE- January 23, 2017

PITTSFIELD >> A city man facing a second drunken driving charge was acquitted on Wednesday amid questions about the field sobriety test and inconsistent testimony.

Hector Palestino, 37, was found not guilty by a Berkshire County jury of six after deliberating for about 30 minutes.

Palestino's attorney, Marc C. Vincelette, said state police pulled his client over on May 13, 2016, about 1:09 a.m. after a random query was run, indicating Palestino did not have license. A charge of operating without a license was dismissed prior to trial.

The troopers alleged Palestino was exhibiting signs of intoxication, including slurred speech and unsteadiness on his feet. Vincelette argued to jurors that the troopers had made no observations of intoxicated driving before initiating the stop and that a trio of sobriety tests were incorrectly given. A witness who was with Palestino prior to the stop testified that he only consumed one glass of champagne earlier that night.

In a statement, Vincelette said, "This is a great example of why we have jury trials in our justice system. Mr. Palestino has been exonerated by a jury of his peers."

The case was heard before Judge Michael Ripps in Central Berkshire District Court. If convicted, Palestino faced a sentence of up to 2 1/2 years in jail.


BERKSHIRE EAGLE- August 1, 2016

PITTSFIELD >> A Berkshire County jury of six took less than 30 minutes to acquit Timothy Tatro of a domestic assault and battery charge. "Mr. Tatro was adamant of his innocence from the day I accepted his case two years ago," said his attorney, Marc C. Vincelette in a statement. "He got his day in court and the jury agreed with him."

Tatro, 34, had been accused of grabbing a woman by the head and putting her in a choke hold hard enough to lift her off the ground during a drunken argument in September 2014. Vincelette argued there were no corresponding injuries or signs of struggle on the woman which would have indicated she was subjected to a one-minute or longer choke hold.

"(Tatro) began getting struck and only used his hands to hold the alleged victim's arms against her body to stop her assault on him," said Vincelette.

The trial began last Thursday and concluded Monday after the jury delivered its verdict.

The case was heard before Judge Michael Ripps. Tatro faced up to 2 1/2 years in jail, had he been convicted.


BERKSHIRE EAGLE- August 28, 2015

PITTSFIELD >> It took a Jury of Six less than 30 minutes on Wednesday to clear a city man of a charge he punched a social worker in the head in November 2013. KeithDixon, 39, was accused of striking the social worker during an argument over a couch while she was conducting a home visit with a neighbor of Dixon's.

The woman claimed Dixon hit her while he was aiming for the neighbor he was arguing with after she stepped between to the two men to diffuse the situation. According to Dixon's attorney, Marc C. Vincelette, the woman testified she was "100 percent," certain it was Dixon who struck her. Under cross-examination, the woman admitted she did not see Dixon land the blow she'd attributed to him, Vincelette said in a statement.

Dixon testified it was the man with whom he was arguing who hit and injured the woman. Dixon had been charged with assault and battery, a conviction of which carries a penalty of up to 2½ years in jail.


BERKSHIRE EAGLE- June 25, 2015

PITTSFIELD >> It took jurors a little less than a half-hour to acquit a Pittsfield man of an assault and battery charge from last year. Andrew Bates, 29, was found not guilty by a Jury of Six on Tuesday, according to his attorney, Marc Vincelette. "Mr. Bates is extremely satisfied the jury made the right decision," Vincelette said in a statement.

Prosectors alleged that on March 13, 2014, Bates kicked in the bathroom door of a woman and assaulted her before fleeing the scene. Vincelette argued that Bates was packing his clothes when the woman attacked him, punching him in the face and jaw three times. Bates said he pushed the woman's shoulder in self-defense and admitted he kicked the bathroom door on his way out, but denied any physical assault against the woman.

Bates was arrested a few hours later in Lee and brought back and placed into the custody of the Pittsfield Police Department.


BERKSHIRE EAGLE – November 4, 2014

PITTSFIELD >> A witness who testified against Adam Lee Hall in his triple murder trial have been cleared of charges in a 2010 fake armed robbery in which he were implicated. The Berkshire District Attorney's Office dropped the charges against Scott Langdon, who participated in the scheme cooked up by Hall to discredit a man who later would become one of his murder victims.

In August 2010, Hall, Langdon and two others lured David Glasser, 44, of Pittsfield, to rural Wells, N.Y., and planted items on him in order to make it appear he had been involved in an attempted kidnapping and armed robbery. Hall was hoping to discredit Glasser as a witness in an earlier case in which he beat Glasser with a baseball bat and forced him to sign over his beloved truck.

The scheme was part of Hall's escalating obsession with David Glasser, an obsession that would lead to the murder of the man and two friends a year later at the hands of Hall, David Chalue and Caius Veiovis, according to prosecutors. Hall and the other two men were later convicted for the crimes and are serving three consecutive life sentences without the chance of parole.

Langdon, 48, was a witness for the prosecution in all three triple murder trials. He testified he had been roped into helping with the 2010 plan. Langdon, of Pittsfield, stated he had convinced Glasser to give him a ride to Wells, N.Y., and that while there a female handed him a bag that had a gun along with her wallet, which he then planted in Glasser's truck.The female then called police in New York and told them a man had attempted to kidnap her and fired a gun at her when she ran from him. She gave a description of Glasser's truck and his license plate number. Glasser was later arrested by Pittsfield Police after a traffic stop when they found the gun and the female’s wallet. Investigators later determined Glasser had been set up and that Hall was behind the scheme.

A year later, Glasser, his roommate Edward Frampton and their friend and neighbor Robert Chadwell disappeared from Glasser's Linden Street home. Their dismembered remains were found about two weeks later buried in a trench in Becket.

Langdon had been charged as a co-venturer in the crimes and were facing serious felonies, including kidnapping, possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony, witness intimidation and conspiracy.

The DA's office on Friday entered Nolle Prosequis on all charges against the defendant. This legal Latin term means that the prosecutors will not be pursuing the charges and Langdon will not have convictions for these charges on his record.

Berkshire District Attorney David F. Capeless told The Eagle that considering the magnitude of the triple murder case and the level of cooperation by the four this was "the appropriate way to handle" the charges.

"These people cooperated. They made themselves available," he said. "They testified and did so truthfully and didn't hold back." The DA said his office had never made any promises for their cooperation and made the decision only after the triple murder trials ended.

"Scott gave authorities a full confession as soon as he was arrested and continued his cooperation through the successful prosecution of all three triple homicide cases," said Langdon's attorney, Marc C. Vincelette Sr. "He had never been charged with a crime prior to this incident so he will now return to being a law abiding member of society. But he does so with a heavy heart for the victims and their families, friends and loved ones."



PITTSFIELD >> A Pittsfield jury returned a not guilty verdict to a Pittsfield man on Friday, who was accused of assaulting his former wife when she refused to leave his home.

Prosecutors alleged that James Pope, 62, pushed his ex wife out the side door of his home leaving injuries to her backside on November 2, 2013. The complainining witness in the case stated that she came over so their son could say good bye to his dying cat, when an argument broke out about money. The Commonwealth alleged Pope was verbally abusive and used excessive force in his actions to removie the ex wife.

Pope's attorney, Marc C. Vincelette of Pittsfield, argued that Pope used no force and that the injuries were caused when the complaining witness fell outside after leaving the home in a wild manner. "Mr. Pope can now go back to his normal life" said Vincelette.

Pope was facing up to 2 1/2 years in the house of correction.


BERKSHIRE EAGLE- September 25, 2013

PITTSFIELD >> A New York state man accused of choking his now ex-wife until she blacked out last year was found not guilty of assault and battery on Tuesday in a Jury of Six trial.

Stephen Verniers, 35, of Schenectady, N. Y., allegedly choked his 31-year-old former wife when she came to the apartment that they had shared in Lee and woke him on March 3, 2012, according to police. When the woman awoke, police said, she went to her parents' home and showed them bruises she had on her neck. Three days after the alleged attack she went to the Lee police department to report the incident, she said.

During a Jury of Six session of Central Berkshire District Court on Sept. 19, Verniers' attorney, Marc C. Vincelette Sr., argued that the woman spent time with his client the next day. And he wondered why the parents didn't immediately call the police if the incident was as vicious as the woman said. Vincelette called Lee Police Officer Stephanie Burdick to the stand as a defense witness. The officer's report reflected that she hadn't heard about the attack until 10 days later and didn't include any information on whether she had viewed any injuries. No photos of alleged injuries were included in the report.

A jury deliberated for about two hours before returning a not guilty verdict. After the trial, Vincelette said the case could have gone either way, but that he believed in his client and was "happy for his exoneration."


BERKSHIRE EAGLE- September 21, 2013

PITTSFIELD >> A Sheffield man has been found not guilty of a charge of reckless endangerment of a child after his young relative was found wandering alone near a busy state highway in December 2012. Police and prosecutors had alleged that while 25-year-old Abram Boinay slept off a heavy night of drinking his then 2-year old relative, whom Boinay was supposed to be watching, wandered out of the house.

The child was found by a concerned citizen near Route 7 in Sheffield. The woman coaxed the child to her car and then went looking for the boy's family. She said in court that the child was muddy, was wearing only pajamas and had a dirty diaper. When no one answered the door at what was determined to be the Boinay residence, the woman took the child to the Sheffield police station.

According to court testimony during the one-day trial held at the Central Berkshire District Court on Wednesday, Boinay had fallen asleep with the child on his chest at about 2 p.m. The child was found at about 4 p.m.

During cross-examination by Boinay attorney Marc C. Vincelette Sr., a police officer and a state Department of Children and Families Investigator admitted that they did not feel Boinay was under the influence of alcohol at the time. There was nothing indicating that Boinay had been drinking alcohol in the home when the child wandered off, according to testimony. Additionally during testimony by Boinay's father, it was revealed that the door the child left through was designed in such a way that even if locked, it could have still been opened from the inside.

Assistant Berkshire District Attorney Dana Parsons told the jury there was enough evidence to find Boinay guilty of the charge. Vincelette told the jury that no crime had been committed.

A jury of three men and three women took about 30 minutes to find Boinay not guilty. "This was a very unfortunate incident," Vincelette said after the trial. "A child could've been killed and we are all grateful for the actions of the citizen who rescued him. But my client committed no crime."



PITTSFIELD >> The father of a young boy mauled by dogs was acquitted of threatening the animal's owner with a pistol following a short trial in Central Berkshire District Court's Jury-of-Six session. It took the panel's four women and two men about 10 minutes on Tuesday to find 30 year- old Anthony Petell not guilty of felony assault with a dangerous weapon. The trial before District Court Judge Robert S. Murphy Jr. lasted about half a day.

According to Pittsfield Police and the complaining witness, Adam Pollack, Petell drove up to Pollack's Edward Avenue residence on the night of July 25, 2012, and called him over to his vehicle. Pollack, who had been smoking on his front porch, walked over to the car and Petell allegedly pulled out a .40 caliber pistol, aimed it at Pollack and told him, "We'll do this right now." Pollack said he ran inside his house and called 911. In a preliminary statement given to police Pollack allegedly said he "wasn't sure" Petell had a gun. A firearm was never recovered, according to a police report.

Petell told the jury that he had driven by the house that night, slowed down but didn't stop, didn't see Pollack, and did not have a gun. According to Petell's lawyer, Marc C. Vincelette, the alleged incident took place on the eve of a city hearing held to determine the fate of Pollack's dogs. Pollack's allegations were nothing more than an attempt to "even the score" for Petell's attempts to have the animals euthanized, Vincelette said.

A month earlier, on June 11, Petell's now 10- year- old son was attacked by American Staffordshire terriers owned by Pollack and Lori Rohde, both 43. The attack left the boy with severe injuries. According to Petell, his son had part of his scalp ripped away and suffered 35 puncture wounds to various areas of his body. Police said at least two of the dogs attacked the boy, but Pollack and Rohde have maintained it was just one of their dogs, a 2- year- old named Diablo, who was involved. Diablo was later euthanized, while the other dogs were taken to Schenectady, N. Y., where Pollack now resides.

"I am very pleased with the jury's verdict and to shut this chapter of the nightmare that began for the Petell family when their little boy was attacked," Vincelette told The Eagle following the trial.


BERKSHIRE EAGLE- September 23, 2012

PITTSFIELD >> A city teen accused of threatening to murder a neighbor last April was found not guilty of the charges on Wednesday after a Central Berkshire District Court Jury of Six trial. In a one-day trial Jevaughn Ainsley, 18, of Columbus Avenue, was found not guilty of felony witness intimidation and threat to commit murder, a misdemeanor.

The charges were related to an April 12 shooting incident in the area of Columbus and Daniels avenues. That night, according to police, shots rang out, Ainsley was seen running from the area and witnesses overheard a conversation in which Ainsley was threatened with death. The next day Ainsley allegedly confronted his neighbor, Jessica Bombidier, about what she may have witnessed related to the shooting. Police said Ainsley refused to leave Bombidier's yard and told her not to "go to sleep" and to " watch her back," before making a slicing motion across his throat with his finger.

At trial, Ainsley's attorney, Marc C. Vincelette Sr., argued that the alleged victim was actually the aggressor and that she made the allegations against Ainsley because she was angry over her daughter's friendship with him.

The jury of three men and three women took about two hours to reach a not guilty verdict.

According to Vincelette, Ainsley, who is Jamaican by birth, remains incarcerated at the Berkshire County Jail & House of Correction while federal immigration officials begin deportation proceedings against him.


BERKSHIRE EAGLE- October 28, 2011

PITTSFIELD >> A Becket man accused of breaking the arm of his ex- mother- inlaw's friend during an incident in the parking lot of a Pittsfield gas station last summer was found not guilty Tuesday after a Jury of Six trial in Central Berkshire District Court.

Police and prosecutors said Jason Rollins, 33, hit Alicia Scales with his shoulder, knocking her to the ground and causing her to break her arm after an argument outside the Cumberland Farms on First Street on July 25, 2010. The argument involved Rollins, Robin Tubbs - the defendant's former mother-inlaw - Scales and another man.

Rollins's attorney, Marc C. Vincelette of Pittsfield, argued that Scales keyed Rollins's car during the argument and that although Rollins had knocked into Scales, the woman tripped over a curb, which was what caused the injury. According to Vincelette, Rollins used reasonable force in defending his property.

It took jurors a little less than 30 minutes to find Rollins not guilty of assault and battery after Tuesday's trial before Judge Paul Vrabel.


BERKSHIRE EAGLE- August 9, 2011

PITTSFIELD - One of two Pittsfield teens police say beat and robbed a 61-year-old in March was released on his own recognizance Monday after a judge ruled he wasn't a safety risk.

Chad M. Hodecker, 18, of Curtin Avenue, could have been held without bail for up to 90 days had he been classified as such. But the testimony and evidence present on Monday in Central Berkshire District Court failed to convince Judge Fredric D. Rutberg that Hodecker should continue to be held. Hodecker was arrested by Pittsfield Police last Tuesday and charged with armed robbery and aggravated assault and battery. He has pleaded not guilty to the felonies and was held without bail pending Monday's dangerousness hearing. The hearing included testimony from the alleged victim and a lead detective in the case. The defendant's girlfriend also took the stand.

Charles Helde said he was walking to his Richmond Avenue home from Harry's Supermarket on Wahconah Street just after 6 p. m. on March 7 when he was beaten and robbed by two teens.

The attack left him with a broken nose, cheeks, eye sockets and jaw. His injuries required surgery. Helde identified Hodecker from the stand. " Take him down," Helde recalled Hodecker telling the other teen, just before Helde was struck in the face by a heavy object, knocking him unconscious. When he awoke, his wallet with $300 inside had been stolen, he said. Helde also said that Hodecker told him they had a gun, but did not display one. Helde didn't tell police about Hodecker's alleged statement concerning the weapon until August.

Hodecker's attorney, Marc C. Vincelette, asked Helde why it took him five months to tell police about this. Helde answered that he "didn't know why he didn't mention it." Vincelette focused on issues of identity in the case. Helde, when he identified Hodecker from a police photo array Aug. 2, told authorities he was 80 percent sure Hodecker was one of the assailants but thought his hair might have been longer.

Monday, Hodecker appeared in court with his hair cropped close to his neck. Hodecker's girlfriend, who has been dating him for just more than a year, testified that she had never seen Hodecker with hair longer than it was Monday and presented cell phone photos from April as evidence.

Vincelette questioned Pittsfield Police Detective Kim Bertelli about four other possible suspects the police looked at before arresting Hodecker. Bertelli said that the investigation was still under way and that "the leads pointed to" Hodecker. The second suspect police believe was involved in the attack has not been arrested.


BERKSHIRE EAGLE- July 25, 2010

NORTH ADAMS>> A North Adams resident was recently acquitted of assault charges in Northern Berkshire District Court. A District Court jury found Scott Arnold, 39, not guilty of assault and battery and felony assault with a dangerous weapon. The charges stemmed from a family dispute at Arnold's West Main Street home in July 2009. Prosecutors alleged a shouting match over money caused the defendant to shove his neighbor and eventually throwing a rock at him striking him in the eye.

Defense attorney Marc C. Vincelette poked holes in the testimony of Arnold's accusers, whose credibility was challenged during the trial. Arnold opted not to testify in his own defense and Vincelette argued that the Commonwealth's case left "plenty of reasonable doubt". The 4 man and 2 woman jury acquitted Arnold of any wrongdoing. The case was presided over by Jusge Michael Ripps.


BERKSHIRE EAGLE- March 16, 2010

PITTSFIELD >> A New York state man who was facing a potential 10-year prison sentence was recently acquitted of a felony drug charge in Berkshire Superior Court. After a two-day trial that concluded late last month, a Superior Court jury failed to reach a unanimous verdict on a charge of possession of crack cocaine with intent to distribute that was lodged against Johnny Copeland, 21, of Hudson.

After the jury deadlocked on that charge, Judge John A. Agostini declared a mistrial. Prior to jury deliberations, Copeland's defense attorney, Marc C. Vincelette, had asked Agostini to enter a required finding of not guilty, claiming that the prosecution's case was insufficient as a matter of law. Agostini declined to rule on the motion at the time, and the case was sent to the jury, which failed to reach a unanimous verdict.

After the mistrial was declared, Vincelette again requested Agostini to enter a not-guilty finding. The judge, who didn't immediately rule on Vincelette's motion, issued a written decision three days later that agreed with Vincelette's position and found the defendant not guilty.

The charges in the case, which was prosecuted by Berkshire Assistant District Attorney Richard M. Locke, stem from a March 14 search of a motor vehicle on Daniels Avenue, where Pittsfield Police recovered a large amount of crack cocaine under the driver's seat. Copeland was a passenger in the vehicle.


BERKSHIRE EAGLE- October 16, 2009

NORTH ADAMS>> A North Adams jury of six aquitted an Adams woman of drunk driving that resulted in a crash near the MCLA campus last year. Julie Smith, 39 of Adams, was found not guilty of negligent operation of a motor vehicle and operating under the influence of alcohol, third offense, after a 2 day trial.

Prosecutors alleged that on October 30, 2008 North Adams Police was called to the scene of a two car motor vehicle accident near the college campus. There they found Smith who they noted was unsteady on her feet, had glossy eyes and alochol on her breath. Smith admitted to consuming two beers earlier in the day but denied she was intoxicated. According to the Commonwealth, Smith failed standard field sobriety tests that were conducted on the street.

Smith's attorney, Marc Vincelette of Pittsfield, countered that the accident was actually caused by the other driver, not Smith, and should not be viewed as a sign of intoxication. Vincelette also produced a video recording of Smith's booking at police headquarters, who showed Smith "clearly not in an intoxicated state." The attorney stated that there is no way the person on the video could've failed the field sobriety tests so badly, only 15 mintues prior to the video begining.


BERKSHIRE EAGLE- February 23, 2007

PITTSFIELD >> Two Pittsfield men were found not guilty yesterday of breaking into the coin vaults of washing machines at a Linden Street Laundromat two years ago. Rodney S. Jones Jr., 18, of Linden Street, and Marcelle N. King, 19, of Crane Avenue, were each found not guilty of 10 counts of breaking into a depository, a felony that is punishable for up to 20 years in state prison or up to 2 1/2 years in county jail.

Family and friends of the men cheered as Central Berkshire District Court Judge James B. McElroy made his ruling at the conclusion of the jury-waived trial in the upstairs courtroom. This angered the judge, who ordered the crowd out of the courtroom.

The daylong trial was consumed largely by testimony from Dawn Taylor-Thompson, 39, who owned the former Sudds Mill Laundromat that had been robbed of quarters from its machines on numerous occasions in the fall of 2005. She alleged that Jones was the young man whom she caught breaking into the machines shortly before midnight on Nov. 30, 2005, and King was reportedly keeping lookout for him. She reported that 10 machines suffered $5,000 in damages, and she was unsure about how much money in quarters had been stolen from that incident.

Assistant District Attorney Matthew G. Fontaine had also presented the testimony of Detective Dale Eason, Lt. Michael Wynn and Investigator Mark Trapani. Police alleged that they found Jones and King coming out of Jones' house minutes after the incident, and that they fit Thompson's physical description of the two culprits. Jones and King were both carrying drinks which they had just purchased from a variety store on Onota Street. They both denied ever being at the Laundromat. Trapani noted that fingerprints were hard to come by because of the Laundromat's heavily-used machines, and the use of detergents and liquids.

Jones and King's attorneys, John F. McLaughlin and Marc C. Vincelette, respectively, argued that little evidence supported the allegations against their clients. They argued that police didn't recover a large amount of quarters from the area and weren't able to gather fingerprints. "The Laundromat operated 24 hours a day, and was left wide open without any (security)," Vincelette said. "This could have happened at any time, and there's no evidence to suggest they're the ones that broke the machines open." Vincelette also pointed out that Thompson said she allegedly saw Jones holding a pencil in one of his hands, but never mentioned whether she noticed a screwdriver or any other burglarious tool in her statement to police. "There's no way that pencils can pry open metal objects," he said.

Fontaine argued that Thompson had been certain about most of the details in her statement to police, and that she had only been slightly confused about her identification of the defendants.

Jones has one case pending in District Court on allegations that he sold drugs on Jan. 25 and Feb. 2 near St. Joseph's High School.


BERKSHIRE EAGLE- April 6, 2006

PITTSFIELD >> Attorney Marc C. Vincelette of Pittsfield is one of 96 attorneys nationally to have been selected to attend the National Criminal Defense College Trail Practice Institute in Macon, Ga., this summer. He is also one of two attorneys to be granted a full scholarship from the Massachusetts Committee of Public Counsel Services to attend the two-week seminar. The seminar, beginning June 12 at Mercer Law School, will feature the nation's top criminal defense attorneys as lecturers. A wide range of issues will be covered such as minimum mandatory sentencing, death penalty cases and trial strategy.

Vincelette has a full-service law firm, specializing in criminal defense, at 8 Bank Row, Suite 300. He is a former Berkshire assistant district attorney, and a 2003 graduate of Quinnipiac University School of Law, cum laude. Vincelette is a 1998 graduate of LaSalle University and a 1994 graduate of Pittsfield High School. He is the son of Pittsfield Ward 4 City Councilor Ozias "Chuck" Vincelette and Michele Vincelette.

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