North Adams teen gets prison for crime spree, high-speed chase
PITTSFIELD -- A North Adams teen whose crime spree came to a halt after he crashed a stolen vehicle during a police pursuit was sentenced on Tuesday to up to four years in state prison.
On April 9, a more than weeklong crime spree ended for Shawn M. Tripodes, 19, and an alleged codefendant, after crashing a stolen Toyota Camry during a seven-mile-long high-speed chase involving the Vermont State Police, according to law enforcement officials.
"That's how [Tripodes] was caught," Assistant Berkshire District Gregory Barry said on Tuesday.
The spree began April 5 when Tripodes smashed the window of a Jeep in North Adams and made off with the vehicle, eventually dumping it in another town, said Barry.
According to the prosecutor, this was the start of a routine for Tripodes and his alleged co-defendant, Matthew R. Rodriguez, who still faces charges.
According to Barry, they would steal another vehicle after the previous one broke down or ran out of gas. They bounced around the county stealing vehicles in Cheshire, North Adams, the town of Florida and Adams, Barry said.
At one point, they drove to Greenfield where they used stolen credit cards to get gas and buy items at Walmart and Staples, before heading to Vermont, where they were arrested, said the prosecutor.
On Tuesday in Berkshire Superior Court, Tripodes pleaded guilty to 19 charges, including multiple counts of motor vehicle theft, breaking and entering into a motor vehicle, wanton destruction of property, larceny and receiving stolen property.
Judge Daniel A. Ford asked Tripodes why he had committed the crimes. Tripodes answered that he was just being "young and dumb. Thinking I was cool. Doing stupid things."
Ford than asked him if he had learned anything from this experience.
"Yeah, I shouldn't have done that stupid [expletive]. It wasn't worth it," Tripodes said.
One of the victims who had his Jeep stolen said he had become fearful after it was taken because the thief knew where he and his family lived. He also said the vehicle had sentimental value.
Tripodes was sentenced by Ford to serve at least two years and no more than four years in state prison. The sentence was in line with a joint recommendation between the DA's Office and defense attorney Marc C. Vincelette Sr., representing Tripodes.
Barry said the recommendation was based on Tripodes' age and because the defendant was willing to plead guilty to the charges quickly, only three months after being indicted. The prosecutor also pointed to Tripodes' lack of a substantial adult criminal record.
Vincelette said his client wanted to take responsibility for his actions.
Ford, when handing down the sentence, told Tripodes that he should thank his lawyer for doing an outstanding job, since if Tripodes had gone to trial and lost, the judge would have sentenced him to more prison time.
A single charge of motor vehicle theft carries a maximum 15 years in prison while breaking and entering into a motor vehicle for a felony carries a maximum 20 year prison sentence.
A single count of common and notorious thief was dismissed at the request of the DA's Office.
"I hope you did learn something," the judge told him.
Tripodes is still facing charges in Vermont as is Rodriguez.
The case in Massachusetts against the 19-year-old Rodriguez also remains pending.
The investigations were conducted by members of the North Adams, Adams and Cheshire police departments, state troopers from the Cheshire barracks, and state police detectives assigned to the District Attorney's Office.