Jail for one brother, trial for another in Pittsfield brawl case

Tuesday July 24, 2012

PITTSFIELD -- While one brother is set to go to trial in Berkshire Superior Court today, his sibling was sent to jail on Monday after pleading guilty to 10 charges stemming from a brawl between two neighboring families in Pittsfield on Independence Day two years ago.

Jesse J. Tart, 38, received an 18-month jail sentence followed by five years of probation after pleading guilty to drug and weapons charges.

"Take care, guys," Jesse Tart said to friends and family members as he was led away in handcuffs.

His brother, John H. Tart, and a co-defendant, Stephen Abriel, both of Pittsfield, are scheduled to go to trial in Superior Court today. Jury selection for their trial took place on Monday after Jesse Tart was sentenced. Opening arguments are scheduled for 9 a.m.

John Tart is charged with one count of assault and battery by means of a dangerous weapon (a sledgehammer), while Abriel faces four counts of assault and battery by means of a dangerous weapon, two counts of assault and battery, and one count of possession of a stun gun.

The three men were charged following a July 4, 2010, brawl between neighbors whose residences are located 500 feet apart on Cloverdale Street. The incident began after a father, who was holding a going-away party for his soldier son, asked guests at a neighboring gathering to stop riding their four-wheel vehicles near the cars parked at his home, according to police. The dispute turned violent and triggered a massive response from law enforcement authorities that included Berkshire County's Special Response Team.

The following day, Pittsfield Police executed 22 search warrants on the Tarts' Cloverdale residence, seven storage facilities on the property and 14 vehicles.

Jesse Tart originally faced 27 charges in connection with the incident, the majority stemming from the execution of the search warrants. But 17 of those charges, all firearms-related offenses, were dismissed at the commonwealth's request.

Two of the remaining charges, possession of cocaine with the intent to distribute and possession of marijuana with the intent to distribute, were reduced to simple possession charges. Jesse Tart received concurrent 18-month sentences to the Berkshire Jail & House of Correction after pleading guilty to the two drug charges.

He also pleaded guilty to two counts of assault with a dangerous weapon, and single counts of discharging a firearm within 500 feet of a building, unlawful possession of a firearm, improper storage of a non-large capacity firearm, possession of both a firearm and ammunition without a Firearms Identification Card, unlawful possession of fireworks, and intimidation of a witness. He was placed on probation on all of these charges.

In sentencing Jesse Tart, Superior Court Judge John A. Agostini adhered to the sentencing recommendation put forth by the prosecution and the defense.

To reach Tony Dobrowolski:
or (413) 496-6224
On Twitter: @tonydobrow


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