Tuesday July 17, 2012

PITTSFIELD -- A 53-year-old city man accused of knocking a man off his mobility scooter in order to take a ride on it himself pleaded not guilty on Monday to robbery charges.

William D. Phillips, of Bradford Street, is out on personal recognizance following his arraignment in Central Berkshire District Court on single counts of unarmed robbery and threat to commit murder.

According to the Pittsfield Police, 65-year-old Robert N. Rundle was sitting on his mobility scooter near North and Eagle streets in Pittsfield on Friday evening when Phillips walked up to him, sat on his lap and caused the vehicle to topple over, sending Rundle sprawling onto the ground. Phillips then drove off on the scooter.

Phillips allegedly returned to the scene after police, firefighters and an ambulance crew arrived. When police asked him what he was doing, Phillips told them he was "just going for a ride," according to the police report. He appeared to be intoxicated, police said.

After his arrest, he allegedly threatened to kill a police officer and his family.

Phillips was arraigned Monday after spending the weekend in jail.

Assistant Berkshire District Att orney Gregory A. Bartlett asked that Phillips be held on $2,000 cash or $20,000 surety bail, telling the court that the crime was a serious one and that Phillips had a criminal record that included disorderly conduct and re straining order violations. He said they intended to take the case to Superior Court.

Phillips' attorney, Joshua C. Hoch berg, said that while the charges were serious the facts of the case weren't.

According to the attorney, Phillips had been given permission to take the scooter.

Phillips and Rundle are acquaintances, the police report stated, but Rundle denied giving the defendant permission to use it.

Hochberg pointed out that the police report indicated Rundle was intoxicated during the incident.

Judge Paul Vrabel released Phillips on personal recognizance and ordered him to stay away from Rundle.

A hearing was scheduled for Aug. 13 in the case.

To reach Andrew Amelinckx:
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