Pittsfield man pleads guilty to 'knuckle knife' weapons charge

Wednesday January 16, 2013

PITTSFIELD -- A Father's Day present earned a city man 18 months in jail and two years of probation after he pleaded guilty on Tuesday in Berkshire Superior Court to a felony charge of carrying a dangerous weapon.

The attorney for Andy Rivera, 32, of Danforth Avenue, said that the four-bladed "knuckle knife" Rivera was carrying when arrested in November 2011 was a gift from his family. This type of knife is considered a dangerous weapon in Massachusetts.

According to Assistant Berkshire District Attorney Rachael Eramo, Pittsfield Police responded to North Street and Madison Avenue on the evening of Nov. 8, 2011, for a report of a large group of people fighting in the street.

According to a police report, when officers arrived there was a group of young people -- including Bloods street gang members -- milling around. The police were directed down Madison Avenue near the intersection with Seymour Street.

There, they located Rivera on a bicycle outside screaming and swinging a black baseball bat. A police officer pulled his gun on Rivera and took him into custody. The knife was found in his pocket.

Rivera's attorney, Marc C. Vincelette, said his client was attempting to defend himself from the group of teens, never hit anyone with the souvenir-sized baseball bat, and kept the knife in his pocket throughout the exchange.

"He found himself in a bad situation," the lawyer told the court.

Vincelette asked Judge Daniel A. Ford to sentence his client to two years of probation, while Eramo asked for a 21 2- to three-year state prison sentence for the defendant, noting his record, which includes felony drug convictions.

The judge sentenced Rivera to 21 2 years at the Berkshire County Jail & House of Correction, 18 months of which Rivera must serve. This will be followed by a two-year probation sentence.

Rivera, who had been out on personal recognizance, was handcuffed and led away by court security officers.

A charge of disturbing the peace was dismissed at the request of the DA's office.


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