PITTSFIELD -- Four city teens, including two juveniles, have been charged in connection with an alleged armed robbery in a pot deal gone bad on Tuesday evening, according to police.
On Wednesday in Central Berkshire District Court, attorneys for Samuel Rivera, 17, and Jamer Jones, 19, say theirs is a case of mistaken identity and that they were about to play basketball at Pitt Park when they were arrested. Rivera and Jones denied single counts each of armed robbery.
Because the other two defendants are 16-year-old juveniles, no information is available on their cases.
Police and prosecutors say that on Tuesday, just before 6 p.m., a 21-year-old Pittsfield man went to meet Rivera at the Linden Street bridge to purchase a half-ounce of marijuana. But when he pulled out $180 in cash, Rivera punched him in the face and took the money, authorities said. A brief struggle ensued, until one of the 16-year-olds ran up and put a gun in the face of the man, said police.
Jones and the other juvenile also allegedly ran up and displayed weapons.
The complaining witness -- the 21-year-old -- "was afraid for his life," according to a Pittsfield Police probable cause report, but suffered no injuries.
The four suspects were arrested a short time later in Pitt Park and were allegedly identified by the complaining witness.
Police said they found a BB pistol that matched the description of one of weapons used in the robbery in Rivera's backpack and found $100 in cash on the defendant at the time of his arrest.
Attorney Alexander Sohn, representing Rivera, and Jones' lawyer, Raymond J. Jacoub, told the court on Wednesday that their clients were at the park getting ready to play basketball at the time of the alleged crime.
They said their clients had both been released on personal recognizance following their arrests and showed up for court. The attorneys asked that the teens remain free pending the outcome of the case.
Judge Robert S. Murphy Jr. released Jones -- who has no criminal record -- on personal recognizance and Rivera on $1,000 personal surety, meaning if he fails to show up for court he will have to pay that money.
The Berkshire District Attorney's Office was asking for $5,000 bail on the defendants.
The teens are expected back in court next month, but it's likely the case will be heading to the grand jury.
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