PITTSFIELD -- A city man has been sentenced to 90 days in jail after he admitted to stealing a bicycle from a neighbor's garage.
Horace G. Spratling, 36, who has no listed address, reportedly broke into a garage on July 19 and took the bicycle. The owner reported it missing that same day.
Several hours later, police spotted Spratling riding a bicycle that fit the description of the stolen two-wheeler.
He pleaded guilty to one count each of breaking and entering and larceny under $100.
When asked by police why he stole the bike, Spratling reportedly said, "I needed it to get around."
Spratling's defense attorney, Benjamin Smith, tried to use that statement to mitigate the theft.
"My client gave a full confession to police," Smith said. "When he was caught, he answered the police's questions honestly. And he didn't take the bicycle to buy drugs or guns. As he said, he needed the bike to get around."
Judge Fredric Rutberg was not swayed.
"Do you think his victim cares about that, one way or the other?" Rutberg asked.
Smith conceded he probably did not.
The defense attorney added that Spratling has had health problems over the past few years, including a heart attack and angina.
"Since those problems began," things began to go downhill, Smith said.
Smith asked for a sentence of 30 days in jail.
Rutberg sentenced Spratling to 90 days in the Berkshire County Jail & House of Correction, but gave him credit for 27 days already served.
Spratling also was expected to plead guilty to a total of 15 counts in connection with a stolen credit card on Monday, but that case was continued until next week.
In that case, he was charged with six counts of credit card fraud under $250, four counts of forgery, three counts of larceny under $250 and two counts of uttering a forged check.
On April 15, a Pittsfield resident reported her wallet had been stolen. A subsequent check of her purchases revealed charges to her credit card from April 5-8 of between $1.99 and $86. The victim told police those transactions were not hers.
The total amount charged was $256, according to Assistant District Attorney Jason Letterman.
However, a few moments into the hearing, Spratling claimed that the card had been given to him by a friend. He said he did not know how the friend got the card.
"Wait a minute," Rutberg said. "Are you trying to say, Mr. Spratling, that you obtained this card through a third party, who shall remain nameless at this point, and that third party told you that you could use the card?
"I'm sorry," a clearly annoyed Rutberg said. "I'm not buying into that fantasy. That makes no sense."
Rutberg denied the motion for a change of plea, and continued the case until next week.
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