No bail for two who allegedly robbed, threatened Pittsfield woman

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PITTSFIELD — Two men are being held without bail after allegedly robbing a couple during a drug deal Jan. 26, then threatening to kill the woman while trying to rob her a second time at her home.

Arthur McCowan, 29, of Springfield, and Ronald Sanford III, 27, of Pittsfield, told police they were at the couple's home to discuss renting a room, according to court documents.

The woman told police she had made arrangements with Sanford to purchase $60 worth of benzodiazepine. But during the exchange, the woman said, he announced "This is a f---ing robbery," and took back the drugs and the money, both of which had been placed on a table inside the home. That led to a brief scuffle, but the victim said she and her boyfriend backed down out of fear.

At that point, she said, Sanford then asked about a room for rent, and she agreed to show him a vacant room in hopes of getting them to leave, the documents said.

After showing the room, the couple asked them to discuss the matter outside, then showed them out and shut and locked the door.

A short while later, the men began knocking on the door and demanding more money, the woman told police.

She went on to the porch to speak with the men, she said, and Sanford grabbed her and demanded more money while McCowan pressed a black metal object against her left temple, asking her if she wanted to die in front of her man.

She told police she wasn't 100 percent sure the object was a gun, but believed it to be. She said her boyfriend managed to pull her back into the house and lock the door.

About 20 minutes later, the men returned to the door for a third time, and police were called and were told there were two men armed with handguns trying to break in.

Police arrived and found McCowan and Sanford, both of whom matched the given descriptions, and placed them in custody at gunpoint.

Neither man was found with a gun; McCowan was carrying a black folding knife, police said.

While in custody, Sanford complained of chest pains and allegedly made threats to harm himself and was taken to Berkshire Medical Center.

Once he was cleared to return to the station, Sanford allegedly made more threats to kill himself and said he was not going to leave the hospital willingly.

He allegedly struggled with officers while they tried to get him into a cruiser, kicking officers in the leg and groin areas and trying to reach for items on an officer's belt, including his firearm, before police used a Taser to subdue him.

At their arraignments Monday in Central Berkshire District Court, both men had their respective bails on open cases revoked. McCowan has on open charge of assault and battery with a dangerous weapon from Dec. 2, and Sanford has open charges of disorderly conduct and assault and battery with a dangerous weapon from Dec. 4.

They both pleaded not guilty before Judge Mark J. Pasquariello to charges of unarmed robbery, assault with a dangerous weapon, assault with a dangerous weapon, threatening to commit a crime and possession of a Class C drug with intent to distribute.

Sanford also was charged with six additional counts connected to the alleged incident at the hospital; four counts of assault and battery with a dangerous weapon and one count each of assault with a dangerous weapon and assault and battery on a police officer.

Both men are due back in court Feb. 15 for pretrial hearings.

Bob Dunn can be reached at bdunn@berkshireeagle.com, at @BobDunn413 on Twitter and 413-496-6249.


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