6 months for Lee man who set up drug deal that spawned armed ambush
PITTSFIELD — A Lee man who got caught up in a bizarre scheme involving stolen marijuana, kidnapping and assault has been sentenced to six months in jail.
Jay P. Strezynski, 26, who prosecutors said "ended up in an impossible situation," admitted he was trying to broker a marijuana deal between two people in hopes of perhaps making a small amount of money or obtaining some pot for his efforts.
The deal led to an armed ambush by alleged drug dealers seeking to retrieve 15 to 20 pounds of stolen marijuana and an ordeal that ended in a Pittsfield basement.
Strezynski was arrested in late January and initially faced charges including armed robbery, kidnapping and assault and battery by means of a dangerous weapon. Six other people also have been charged in the case.
During the investigation, prosecutors determined Strezynski had no knowledge of the scheme to retrieve to stolen drugs and he was indicted by a Berkshire County grand jury earlier this year on the lone conspiracy charge.
Strezynski unwittingly arranged the deal between the man who had stolen the marijuana and the people who wanted it back. A meeting was arranged for Jan. 25 and Strezynski was compelled to come along.
The men were ambushed at the three corners area in Lee, where a struggle ensued, and one of the men who was selling back the stolen marijuana was allegedly forced into a car and driven to Pittsfield.
Strezynski was told to return to Lee and wait for word the missing drugs had been found.
The abducted man was forced into a basement where he was beaten and threatened until he revealed where the stolen marijuana was being stored.
Strezynski pleaded guilty in Berkshire Superior Court on Tuesday to the drug conspiracy charge.
Defense attorney Lori Levinson said Strezynski was "scared witless," and was forced to participate in the scheme at gunpoint. Saying her client learned a lesson would be a "gross understatement," she said.
Levinson asked Judge John Agostini to continue the case without a finding for six months, which would have eventually dismissed the charge, provided he stayed out of further legal trouble and adhered to his release conditions during that time.
Assistant Berkshire District Attorney Joseph Yorlano argued that, despite changing social attitudes around marijuana, there was still a large amount of drugs and cash involved, with Strezynski operating under the presumption he was arranging a sale of a pound of marijuana for about $3,000.
"This was a serious drug transaction," Yorlano said.
Accepting Yorlano's recommendation, Agostini sentenced Strezynski to a six-month jail sentence, suspended for one year, during which time he would be required to remain drug-free and submit to random screenings.
He noted Strezynski had already received the benefit of a continuation without a finding on a past Hampshire County charge of assault and battery on a police officer.
The cases against the six remaining co-defendants remain open and ongoing.
Contact Bob Dunn at 413-496-6249.
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