PITTSFIELD -- An alleged crack addict who police say robbed a 73-year-old woman of her purse on Bradford Street earlier this month is being held on $7,500 cash bail.

Nicholas T. McNeil, 34, of Third Street, allegedly ran up to a 73-year-old woman about 7:45 p.m. on Dec. 10, pushed her to the ground and told her to give him her purse or he would stab her, according to Pittsfield Police. A struggle ensued before McNeil made off with the purse that contained a debit card, checks, loose change and about $2 in cash, among other items, police said.

The struggle was "pretty violent," and the woman had a sore elbow and leg afterward, according to the police report.

McNeil was stopped by police officers during an area search that night and was found to be carrying a knife, but he was not arrested at the time.

He was arrested about 2:30 p.m. Friday after being caught breaking into a car in the parking lot of The Lantern on North Street by the vehicle's owner, police said. McNeil allegedly had the man's iPod in his had and was rummaging in a bag inside the car when the owner found him. The man held onto McNeil and waved down a state trooper who was driving by.

McNeil allegedly also had with a stolen smartphone that was taken from a vehicle parked outside of Harry's Supermarket on Wahconah Street. Pittsfield Police said when taken into custody McNeil had two Percocets, which are prescription painkillers.

He was charged with felony breaking and entering into a motor vehicle and receiving stolen property and misdemeanor possession of a class B substance.

After his arrest McNeil allegedly told police he was addicted to crack cocaine and that he had committed a series of similar break-ins recently as well as the robbery.

He was additionally charged with vehicle break-ins from Nov. 15 on Wahconah Street and Dec. 4 and Dec. 17 on Pecks Road. He was also charged with the theft of a tip jar with about $50 in it from a North Street coffee shop on Dec. 7. He allegedly stole electronics, tools and wallets from the vehicles.

McNeil pleaded not guilty on Monday to seven felonies and a misdemeanor, charges that included unarmed robbery of a person 60 or older, larceny from a building and multiple counts of breaking and entering into a motor vehicle for a felony.

Assistant Berkshire District Attorney Kelly M. Keep told the court McNeil had a "lengthy" criminal history and served time for a 2003 knife-point armed robbery.

She asked that bail be set at $15,000 cash.

Attorney Ryan D. Smith, representing McNeil, said his client was a lifelong resident of Pittsfield who was married with two children. Smith said it was unclear whether his client was read his Miranda rights before his alleged confession. He asked that he be released on personal recognizance.

Judge Fredric D. Rutberg ordered McNeil held at the Berkshire County Jail & House of Correction on a total of $7,500 cash or $75,000 surety bail.

The defendant is due back in court on Jan. 16., but the case may go to the grand jury.

To reach Andrew Amelinckx:


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