Man admits to helping prolific thieves stage burglary heist against his former boss

PITTSFIELD — Just before his case was set to go to a jury, John L. Smith had an apparent change of heart and pleaded guilty to the eight charges against him in connection with the burglary of his former employer in 2012.

Smith 52, of Hinsdale, admitted he was complicit in the heist and that he enlisted the aid of brothers Aaron and James "Jamie" Tarjick Jr. to carry out the theft.

Judge John Agostini sentenced Smith to a 2 1/2 year jail sentence, 18 months of which will be served directly. The remaining year will be suspended for a three-year period of probation, during which time, Smith must have no contact with the victims, their home or their business.

Assistant Berkshire District Attorney Joseph Yorlano said Smith didn't participate in the actual break-in and burglary; neither did he profit financially from it.

Yorlano said Smith's motive appeared to be nothing more than revenge against his former boss following the denial of his unemployment benefits.

The victims addressed the court and said, in addition to material items like jewelry, the burglars took things that could never be replaced.

Those items included family heirlooms left to their children and video recordings of milestones like their first steps.

Those items, "had no value to (the burglars), but they were priceless to us," one of the victims said.

Yorlano said out of the scores of burglaries the Tarjick brothers pleaded guilty to last year, "This one stood out. This one always felt personal."

Jamie Tarjick testified for the prosecution over the course of two days of Smith's trial and laid out exactly how he and his brother would select homes to burglarize, including what signs they would look for to help determine whether a particular house was a good target.

He told jurors how he would often get tips about good locations and cut those who supplied good intelligence in for a share of whatever profits were made.

The Tarjicks' nearly three-year statewide crime spree began to unravel after evidence linked the brothers to an Amherst burglary and information surfaced that Aaron Tarjick was wearing a court-ordered electronic monitor while he was committing those crimes.

The monitor was ordered as part of his pretrial release conditions in a case unrelated to his burglary charges.

GPS data collected from that monitor showed Aaron Tarjick in the locations of burglaries throughout Western Massachusetts and Cape Cod, including the burglary in which the brothers conspired with Smith.

In September 2013, one of the pistols stolen from the home was found in the possession of a man who told investigators he'd received it from Jamie Tarjick.

Tarjick testified he'd given the gun to the man as a reward for the work he'd done helping to fence stolen items for the brothers.

Smith walked off a job site in late October 2011 while working as a foreman for a local electrical contracting company.

After the initial denial of benefits, Smith also lost an appeal to the state.

In 2012, Smith spoke with Jamie Tarjick and told him there may be a large amount of cash in the basement of his former employer's Pittsfield home.

Smith had helped build the home and was familiar with its layout and the location of a large safe, in which there were items including guns, coins, some cash and a video camera.

The family was away for the 2012 Memorial Day weekend when Smith dropped the brothers off and was given instructions to take a drive and wait for their call when they were ready to be picked up.

Smith met up with them later after they had broken into the safe and stolen items from throughout the house.

They used tools found in the home to break into the safe. Once he tipped over the safe, exposing its rear panel, Tarjick testified, it took him only about 5 minutes to cut through it.

The brothers put the stolen items in a favorite car of the victim and drove it away to meet with Smith, eventually abandoning it in Richmond.

Jamie Tarjick testified Smith told the brothers that car was the victim's "pride and joy" and stealing it was a just a way to "screw over" his former boss.

Testimony in Smith's trial began last Tuesday. The prosecution rested its case last Friday, with the defense following suit immediately after without calling any witnesses or presenting any evidence.In all, Smith pleaded guilty in Berkshire Superior Court to three counts of larceny of a firearm, and one count each of unarmed burglary, breaking and entering into a building in the nighttime with the intent to commit a felony, larceny of a motor vehicle, larceny over $250 and conspiracy.

He will serve his sentence at the Berkshire County Jail and House of Correction.

Agostini denied a request to have the execution of Smith's sentence stayed until Friday.

Reach staff writer Bob Dunn at 413-496-6249 or @BobDunn413 on Twitter.


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