Thursday July 26, 2012

PITTSFIELD -- After crashing his car while fleeing state police on Monday, a man slipped his hospital guard just before his arraignment Wednesday morning and was recaptured after an hourlong manhunt.

Jamie M. Spagnuolo, 33, whose back was injured in the crash, had been at Berkshire Medical Center since Monday. Wednesday morning around 9:30, Spagnuolo "took the opportunity to flee" when his shackles were removed for a medical procedure, according to Berkshire County Sheriff Thomas N. Bowler.

After he was captured, Spagnuolo was arraigned Wednesday afternoon in Central Berkshire District Court on charges related to the high-speed chase on Monday. He is being held on $100,000 surety bail at the Berkshire County Jail & House of Correction. He faces more charges for fleeing authorities on Wednesday, Bowler said.

Sheriff deputies, city and state police worked to find Spagnuolo, who was ultimately caught on Fourth and Lake streets by a Pittsfield patrolman. At one point during his escape, Spagnuolo apparently took a cab.

Bowler said Spagnuolo's capture came about thanks to great communication and teamwork between the various agencies. Bowler said it remains unclear if Spagnuolo had outside help with his escape.

In court, Spagnuolo pleaded not guilty to a number of charges, including driving under the influence of both drugs and alcohol, failing to stop for police, leaving the scene of a property damage accident, driving an uninsured and unregistered motor vehicle, driving with a suspended license, driving to endanger and two civil motor vehicle infractions.

Monday night, a state trooper attempted to pull over Spagnuolo on East Street because his car was missing a headlight, according to a police report.

Spagnuolo, driving a 2000 Nissan Maxima, took off at a high rate of speed, forced a car off the road, ripped off a piece of his car's bumper on a curb, and crashed into a fire hydrant, according to the report.

Police said he then ran through a creek near Parkside Avenue before commandeering a child's bicycle, crashing that and then running into the woods. He was arrested a short time later.

Police said Spagnuolo appeared to be intoxicated, was overheard telling a family member he had drank beer and snorted cocaine. No field sobriety tests were performed. The police report states that they are seeking blood and toxicological analysis from the hospital.

The Berkshire District Attorney's Office asked that Spagnuolo be held on $25,000 cash bail, citing the defendant's propensity to flee from police and an out-of-state record.

His attorney, Nathaniel K. Green, asked that Spagnuolo be released on personal recognizance or a small amount of bail, telling the court that all the charges were misdemeanors and that defendants didn't generally get jail time for first offense OUIs.

He said his client has ties to the area and has a job as a maintenance man at a Pittsfield used car dealership. In court records, Spagnuolo's address is given as Onota Street.

Judge Rita S. Koenigs ordered Spagnuolo to be held on $10,000 cash or $100,000 surety bail.

He is scheduled to be back in court Aug. 21.