Friday May 4, 2012

PITTSFIELD -- A Windsor man has been sentenced to up to five years in prison after pleading guilty to 58 charges stemming from a drug-fueled crime spree in 2007 and 2008, which included stealing U.S. mail.

Joseph C. Racicot, 35, admitted to a slew of crimes, including breaking into a home in Windsor and stealing various items from a snowmobile to jewelry, ripping open several U.S. Mail boxes and taking the mail inside, and stealing other delivery packages off of people's porches.

Racicot also admitted forging checks and stealing people's credit card and personal information. In two instances, he attempted to buy prescription drugs online using the information, incurring credit card charges to the victims.

The series of crimes began in October 2007 and lasted until May 6, 2008, and took place in Windsor, Dalton, Pittsfield, and Stockbridge.

Racicot was a Berkshire County Sheriff's Department corrections officer for six years before quitting that job to start his own cleaning company. While running the business, he suffered a back injury in 2006 and became addicted to pain medication, according to his attorney.

"His life spiraled out of control," attorney Timothy M. Farris said.

Farris appealed for a punishment that included time served and two years of probation.

"I believe he can once again become a contributing member of society," Farris told Judge Daniel A. Ford.

Racicot has been in jail for close to 2 1/2 years awaiting the disposition of the case.

Second Assistant Berkshire District Attorney Robert W. Kinzer sought a sentence of between four and six years in state prison, citing the number and types of crimes.

Kinzer said Racicot's actions wrought problems for the people whose mail and credit card information he used.

"It can take years to get your credit rating back to where it needs to be," he said.

A statement read in court by one of Racicot's victims discussed the vulnerability and isolation their family still feels four years after having their house broken into.

Racicot's father told the court on Thursday that he had tried to help his son beat his addiction and was unable. Nevertheless, the father said that since Racicot has gotten clean while in jail, he had him back "mentally."

He apologized to the families hurt by his son's actions.

Ford said he understood the crimes were committed while Racicot was addicted to drugs, but that "a lot of people struggle with drug problems and don't go on a spree like this."

Racicot was sentenced to at least three years and no more than five years at the Massachusetts Correctional Institution at Cedar Junction and was credited with the 889 days he has already served.

The investigation into the crimes involved several agencies, including the Massachusetts State Police Berkshire Detective Unit, the Dalton, Windsor and Pittsfield Police Departments and the United States Postal Inspector's Office.