By Andrew Amelinckx, Berkshire Eagle Staff
PITTSFIELD -- A Virginia man who allegedly went on a cross-country crime spree in 2013 and tweeted about it was sentenced to up to six years in state prison for a carjacking on the Massachusetts Turnpike.
Michael M. Tarpeh, 24, of Stafford, Va., accosted a man in the parking lot of the eastbound travel plaza on the Massachusetts Turnpike in Lee about 5 a.m. on Feb. 22, 2013, telling the man the man he had a knife and to hand over his car keys. The man ran, but slipped and fell and was set upon by Tarpeh, who punched him in the face multiple times and took $150 in cash and the man’s car, police said.
The victim told police he awoke some time later surrounded by shattered pieces of a terra cotta planter to find his cash and car gone. He was taken to the hospital and treated for a fractured right elbow and a concussion, according to a police report.
Barely an hour before, Tarpeh had stolen a black 2001 Lexus sedan in Troy, N.Y., where he robbed a man of his wallet, cellphone and car by telling him he had a knife, police said.
When he arrived at the gas station on the turnpike, he was unable to restart the car, leading him to steal another, according to the report.
Tarpe, also known as Michael Boadi, next turned up at the University of Connecticut in Storrs, where he hung out and partied with students, and allegedly stole a number of their credit cards. After that he was seen at Ohio State University, in Columbus, where he again partied with students and even took photos with fans.
During this time, Tarpeh, who police said had aspirations of becoming a reality television star, was tweeting about his exploits under the handle BiggggggMike, taunting police and federal agents, and steadily building an Internet following. People cheered him on as he continued to elude police. He was eventually arrested in March 2013 by Iowa State Police for allegedly stealing gas near Council Bluffs. At the time of his arrest he was wanted in four states.
He was shipped back to West Virginia by the U.S. Marshal’s Service on charges that he had choked and beaten a woman before stealing her computer and other items after he drove her home from a party. He was sentenced in September 2014 to serve at least two years and up to 10 years in state prison on charges of malicious assault and grand larceny, according to WBOY.com.
Tarpeh pleaded guilty in Berkshire Superior Court in July to single felony charges of carjacking and assault and battery causing serious bodily injury and two counts of larceny of a motor vehicle. The second larceny of a motor vehicle charge stemmed from the New York incident. In exchange for Tarpeh’s plea here, New York prosecutors agreed to drop charges in that state, according to lawyers in the case.
On Wednesday, Tarpeh was sentenced to at least five and no more than six years in state prison to be served from and after his West Virginia prison sentence.
The sentence imposed by Judge John A. Agostini was in line with a joint recommendation between First Assistant Berkshire District Attorney Paul J. Caccaviello and Tarpeh’s attorney, Glenn W. Keiderling Jr.
As part of the plea deal, single charges of assault and battery with a dangerous weapon and assault and battery were dismissed at the request of the DA’s Office.
Tarpeh hung his head and wiped away tears during the sentencing.
The investigation was conducted by state troopers assigned to the turnpike and state police detectives assigned to the District Attorney’s Office.
The status of Tarpeh’s cases in Connecticut and Iowa was unclear.
To reach Andrew Amelinckx:
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