Friday May 18, 2012

PITTSFIELD -- A North Adams man is being held without bail on 29 charges related to the alleged theft and fraudulent use of more than $2,000 in checks taken from a home-bound elderly couple in Williamstown.

Michael J. Rizzo, 38, of Ballou Street, pleaded not guilty to multiple counts of larceny, identity fraud, forgery and uttering a false check at his arraignment on Thursday in Central Berkshire District Court.

Rizzo’s girlfriend, 24-year-old Briana Manoogian, was arraigned on the same charges Wednesday and is out on personal recognizance.

Pittsfield Police allege Man oogian stole the checks from a Williamstown couple she was supposed to be caring for as a home health aide and that she and Rizzo wrote and cashed the checks at the Merrill Road Stop N’ Shop in Pittsfield.

Assistant Berkshire District At torney Dana Parsons said their ac tivities were "so suspicious" that it was an employee at the store who alerted police.

Rizzo was already facing a Jury of Six trial for breaking into his dying mother’s house while she was in the hospital and stealing $10,000 worth of money and items last year, according to Parsons. His mother has since passed away, she told the court.

During a hearing Thursday, Par sons asked that Judge Paul Vrabel revoke Rizzo’s bail on the older case. The judge ordered Rizzo be held at the Berkshire County Jail & House of Correction and also gave him $2,000 cash or $20,000 bail bond on his new case, double the bail amount that the prosecutor has asked for.


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Rizzo’s attorney, Jonathan Mack, told the court that his client is a former U.S. Marine with a steady job working for a local heating oil company. The alleged crimes weren’t violent, said Mack, and Rizzo isn’t a danger to the community.

According to Parsons, the victims’ son said the loss of the money was a detriment since it was going to be used for the victim’s care.

Rizzo can be held for up to 60 days without bail. A pretrial hearing has been set for June 15. He is scheduled to go to trial in North Adams on the older case in July.

To reach Andrew Amelinckx:
aamelinckx@berkshireeagle.com,
or (413) 496-6249.
On Twitter: @BE_TheAmelinckx