PITTSFIELD -- A man who was the alleged "mastermind" of a scheme to steal computers from a local college and resell them has been sentenced to probation after pleading guilty to 32 charges.
Joseph Pini, 36, of North Adams, also known as Joseph Campbell, was the man behind a series of break-ins of dorm rooms at Williams College and at a software company in Williamstown, between Feb. 24 and March 9, 2012. Pini also has a criminal history dating back to his teens.
Richard C. Jones III, 28, of North Adams, also was arrested in the alleged spree and is facing 37 charges. Assistant Berkshire District Attorney Joseph Yorlano said Jones was responsible for breaking into the dorms and stealing computers and other electronics and that Pini was the lookout and driver.
Two others, Lance C. Latimer, 33, of North Adams and Michael J. Mitchell, 36, of Williamstown, also face charges related to the alleged crimes that were investigated by the Williamstown and North Adams police departments.
The cases against Pini's three co-defendants are pending
Pini pleaded guilty in Berkshire Superior Court on Thursday to 32 charges, including multiple counts of breaking and entering, larceny over $250, and a single count of common and notorious thief, among others charges. Yorlano and Pini's attorney, Glenn W. Keiderling Jr., asked that Pini be sentenced to a two-year, seven-month suspended jail sentence with three years of probation.
Judge John A. Agostini asked why someone with Pini's record should be given probation.
Yorlano admitted the evidence against Pini was not solid, since Jones, who originally fingered Pini, had changed his story and said Pini hadn't been involved. On top of that, the victims were college students who had graduated and "moved out of the area" and weren't interested in pursuing the case, he said.
Agostini sentenced Pini in line with the joint recommendation.
Pini has a long criminal record, mainly for break-ins, going back to his teens, according to court records. In 1991, when he was 14, he took the stand against his grandmother, Gilda Ciavola, and told the court she had been the ringleader of a burglary operation that included himself and a cousin, according to the Associated Press.
The media likened Caivola to Ma Barker, a notorious bank robber from the 1930s whose gang was made up of her family members. Ciavola, then 65, was found guilty of breaking and entering and larceny from a building, but had her case continued without a finding of guilt. She continued to maintain her innocence after the case ended.
Pini was sent to a juvenile detention center for his role in the break-ins, the AP reported in January 1992.
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