Man facing gun charges held on bail


PITTSFIELD - A District Court judge ruled on Tuesday that a Lanesborough man facing gun charges was not dangerous and shouldn't be held without bail. The defendant remains in jail on $1,500 bail.

In Central Berkshire District Court, Judge Paul M. Vrabel denied the Berkshire District Attorney's request to hold John Valli, 55, of April Lane, as a dangerous person. The judge said the office of the District Attorney failed to meet their burden of proof, because the underlying charges didn't fit the requirements that would allow Valli to be held without bail for up to 90 days.

That same day, Valli pleaded not guilty to his third set of charges related to illegal firearm possession and restraining order violations after Berkshire County Drug Task Force members raided his Pittsfield tax office.

Police said they found a .22caliber "assault-style" rifle hidden in the rafters of Liberty Tax Service on Elm Street during a Sept. 27 search. On Tuesday, Valli pleaded not guilty to violating a restraining order (for allegedly possessing a gun) and possession of a firearm without a firearms identification card.

This is the third set of related charges to come Valli's way in a week after police allegedly recovered a shotgun and two rifles from his Lanesborough home along with the rifle recovered from his tax office.

Valli's troubles began last week, when he was arrested by the Lanesborough Police after they learned he had allegedly purchased a 9 mm pistol, which violated the conditions of a permanent restraining order taken out on him by his ex-wife. The gun hasn't been found, but Valli turned over a rifle that was in one of his vehicles. The next day, a police raid at his home allegedly turned up more firearms.

In Massachusetts, the subject of a restraining order must turn over all guns and any gun licenses they may possess to the police, and people under restraining orders aren't allowed to own guns.

During Tuesday's hearing, Lanesborough Police Detective Timothy Sorrell told the court Valli's ex-wife received the restraining order in 2005 against Valli "after 18 years of abuse at his hands." Sorrell also said the woman was still afraid of Valli.

According to Valli's attorney, William A. Rota, Valli never received notice of the restraining order. Rota told the court his client applied for and received a gun permit from the Lanesborough Police in May.

Lanesborough Police Sgt. Gary Kirby said in court that it wasn't until June that they were told by the state that Valli wasn't supposed to have a gun permit.

Not long after learning this, police went to Valli's house, confiscated his gun license and some ammunition, and told him there was a permanent restraining order out against him, according to court documents.

According to Rota, Valli said he never received a revocation notice for his gun license, that he has no criminal record and that the violation of the restraining order was "non-abusive. There's no evidence of threats of violence."


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