Pittsfield woman pulls plea in forgery case; new date set


PITTSFIELD — A new court date has been set for a city woman accused of forging prescriptions after she rejected a judge's sentence recommendation.

Lisa M. Barde, 36, was scheduled to plead guilty on Tuesday to multiple charges alleging she forged prescriptions to obtain drugs and also forged medical documents indicating she was not competent to stand trial.

Judge Paul Vrabel recommended a 3 1/2 years house of correction sentence, which would be served in Chicopee. But because that recommendation exceeded the prosecution and defense recommendations, Barde was allowed to withdraw her guilty plea, and move the case forward.

Barde's attorney, Jedd L. Hall, asked Vrabel to consider a sentence of 33 days of time already served in contrast to the two-year jail sentence recommended by prosecutors.

After hearing the recitation of facts from Assistant Berkshire District Attorney Dana parsons, Vrabel said there was no way he was going to follow the defense's recommendation, feeling that sentence would be far too lenient and that Barde was not a good candidate for probation.

Hall argued in favor of inpatient psychiatric care over a house of correction sentence, noting it could be up to five weeks before Barde could see a jail psychiatrist, but that there was at least one psychiatric facility that would be able to take her immediately.

Hall said Barde has been in 23-hour-a-day isolation while in pretrial detention and that was having a negative impact on her mental health.

Parsons said Barde was only in segregation because she had told authorities at the Western Massachusetts Women's Correctional Center in Chicopee that a "gang of girls" was harassing and threatening her.

Parsons said Barde later changed her story and claimed it was her roommate who was making threats and then asked to be removed from segregation.

Parson said she's been in contact with authorities from the jail who said the only time Barde acts distraught or upset is when she's on the phone with her family or attorney. Otherwise, Parson said, there appear to be no issues regarding her detention.

Barde stands accused of creating phony prescriptions and obtaining medications with them and then providing her prior attorney with false medical evaluations she created which claimed she was not criminally responsible nor competent to stand trial.

The phony evaluations claimed Barde suffered from "retrograde amnesia," from electroconvulsive therapy in January 2015.

Parsons said an evaluation from the court's clinician determined Barde can be found both criminally responsible and competent.

A pre-trial hearing date of Dec. 2 was set and the case may be submitted to a grand jury and moved into Superior Court.

Contact Bob Dunn at 413-496-6249.


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