PITTSFIELD -- A 44-year-old man who allegedly kept his mother living in filthy conditions with little food and no medical care while keeping the rest of the family at bay is being held in jail on $50,000 bail bond after he was brought into court Thursday on a warrant.
Family members of Christopher A. Harrison allege he's a cocaine and heroin addict who uses the money intended for his elderly mother to feed his habit and uses the needles intended for her diabetes medication to shoot street drugs, according to a police report.
When Pittsfield Police Officer Jennifer Brueckmann went into the Jubilee Terrace apartment where Harrison and his 67-year-old mother live on Feb. 22, she called the conditions "not fit for habitation" after finding used needles, beer bottles and other trash strewn about. Inside the refrigerator, there were only "a couple of boxes of leftover french fries, and some other substance that I was unable to identify as food," the officer stated in her report.
The woman told the officer that she was hungry and thirsty, couldn't recall the last time she had eaten, and said she was diabetic. The woman also said she couldn't remember the last time her insulin levels or blood sugar had been checked.
Police became aware of the situation after other family members went into the apartment upon learning that Harrison had gone into a detox program.
"Chris threatens us that if we take her away and he loses access to his mother's SSI check, then he will kill us," a relative of Harrison allegedly told police.
According to family members, the elderly woman had been in a nursing home in Alabama. But two years ago, she had been brought to New York City by bus and was found wandering the streets alone. The report does not indicate how the woman ended up in the care of her son.
On Feb. 22, the woman was transported to Berkshire Medical Center for treatment and has since been discharged. It was unclear where she was taken following her hospital stay.
Harrison was picked up on a warrant and brought to court Thursday. He denied the charges through his attorney, Dean R. Manuel.
Harrison pleaded not guilty to single counts of permitting the abuse of an elderly person and making a threat to commit murder.
He was ordered held by Judge Robert S. Murphy Jr. on $5,000 cash or $50,000 bail bond at the request of the Berkshire District Attorney's Office. Harrison has a "long" criminal record in Florida, according to the DA's Office.
If the case stays in district court, Harrison is facing up to 21 2 years in jail on the abuse charge. If indicted by a grand jury and tried at the Superior Court level, he could face up to three years in state prison.