It was 4:37 a.m. April 30 when the sleepy area of Losty and Southard roads in Stephentown, N.Y., suddenly burst with activity: Helicopters swooped in over a swarm of police and federal agents, converging on the home of a twice-convicted drug dealer, 36-year-old Joshua G. Stegemann.
When the bust went down, Stegemann -- who was awake when police arrived that morning -- made it out of his house. He attempted to flee into a nearby field, but police caught him.
Afterward, Stegemann allegedly told DEA agents that he'd been worried about getting busted. He'd received a tip -- information police allege came from Pittsfield City Councilor Paul Capitanio.
That morning, law enforcement combed the property. They found large amounts of cocaine, heroin and painkillers wrapped in black garbage bags and hidden under a pile of rocks. They found a handgun and a box of ammunition, also wrapped in a garbage bags, under a tree and covered by pine needles. They found nearly $300,000 in cash buried in coolers in a rock pile, according to police reports.
To boot, police said they discovered stolen vehicles and landscaping equipment worth more than $80,000.
All told, police say they recovered more than 700 grams of cocaine, a pound of heroin, thousands of illegal prescription pills, three guns and the cash.
Police say Stegemann, who's originally from Pittsfield, was getting his drugs from the Bronx, N.Y., and supplying dealers "in and around" Pittsfield. The the drugs had been traced as far north as Bennington, Vt.
According to the Eastwick Press Newspaper, which covers Stephentown, Stegemann was turned over to federal authorities and remains in their custody. A docket search of the federal court system failed to turn up any records on Stegemann's case.
During a recent Berkshire Superior Court hearing, Assistant Berkshire District Attorney Richard M. Locke said there have been 12 arrests, so far, related to the case.
Berkshire District Attorney David F. Capeless said they may be asking federal prosecutors with help on the case against Stegemann and the others.
Capeless is familiar with Stegemann, having personally prosecuted two cases against him in Berkshire County in the late 1990s and early-2000s.
Stegemann was released two years ago after serving a decade in a Massachusetts state prison on drug dealing charges, according to Locke.
In 1999, Stegemann was convicted of cocaine trafficking and was sentenced to between three and five years in state prison. Just six months after his release on parole in 2001, he was supplying up to a kilo of cocaine to Berkshire Country dealers, Capeless said in a 2003 interview with The Eagle.
In 2001, Stegemann was again busted on cocaine trafficking charges as well as other drug related crimes and after a 2003 trial was sentenced to between 15 and 25 years in prison. Part of his conviction was later overturned by an appeals court and he served a total of 10 years.
At the time of his 2003 conviction, Judge John A. Agostini told Stegemann that he had "no doubt, if you get out again, you will be dealing drugs again."
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