PITTSFIELD — A Robbins Avenue man, who police believe sold a potent strain of heroin linked to a rash of recent overdoses, was ordered held on $5,000 bail Tuesday.

Judge Daniel Ford set bail for Kenneth Rathbun, 53, following his arraignment in Berkshire Superior Court.

Rathbun was arrested in November during a traffic stop, after police were alerted that he may have sold heroin in packages stamped with the words "American Gangster."

Heroin in such packaging is believed to have caused a recent series of overdoses throughout the state.

Locally, police attributed five overdoses to the batch. The overdoses were reversed with Narcan, a drug that counters the effects of opioids. Police cited American Gangster in one overdose death between Nov. 13 and Nov. 17.

Rathbun was found with 50 bags of heroin, a pair of cellphones and a crack pipe, according to police.

Rathbun also faces drug charges connected to evidence recovered during another traffic stop in September,

In all, Rathbun pleaded not guilty to charges of possession of heroin with intent to distribute (second offense), possession of heroin (second offense), and two counts of possession of cocaine (second offense).

Rathbun is due back in court on March 14 for a pre-trial hearing.


The investigation was conducted by members of the Pittsfield and Dalton Police Departments, the Berkshire County Sheriff's Department and state troopers assigned to the District Attorney's Office and members of the Berkshire County Law Enforcement Task Force.

Contact Bob Dunn at 413-496-6249.