Troubling trend of violence, drugs in North County


NORTH ADAMS -- Just months after notorious former North County resident Lewis Lent confessed to a 1992 murder, 84-year-old Ellen DePaoli was killed in her Walker Street home, marking it a violent year for crime in 2013.

DePaoli, 84, was found on Sept. 17 by police, slain in her home, after a 911 call reporting her death. Police later tracked down North Adams resident David Delratez, 41, in Bennington, Vt., and charged him with single counts of first-degree murder and larceny of a motor vehicle.

After allegedly murdering DePaoli, police say Delratez -- who has pleaded not guilty to the charges against him -- fled in her car. Investigators say they found the knife used to kill DePaoli in the car.

Delratez has claimed that he was called to the home by a drug dealer named "Jim-Jim," and that when he arrived DePaoli already had been slain.

Artery Lounge

Though it received attention around New England, DePaoli’s killing was only one of several violent incidents in North County this year.

A June 15 stabbing outside the Artery Lounge left 41-year-old North Adams resident Derrick Borum hospitalized at Berkshire Medical Center with eight gashes.

According to police, security footage showed a crowd of roughly 30 people outside the bar when Borum was stabbed, resulting in eight arrests. Borum was released from the hospital two days after the incident.

Taxi stabbing

In September a Hartford, Conn., taxi driver was stabbed in the hand after taking his passenger from Connecticut to North Adams in a single trip.

Police alleged that Berthony Jean-Baptiste, 21, of Boston, attempted to stab the driver through a plexiglass partition and robbed him after paying him a $240 fare.

Jean-Baptiste fled the cab on foot, leading police on a chase through the west end of the city. After coming up empty-handed, police issued a CodeRed warning to city residents. Two days later, they received a tip and tracked him down to an apartment, where he was arrested. A pretrial hearing is slated for February 2014.

Drug busts

In October, police put an end to what they allege was large-scale illegal marijuana distributing operation, arresting a North Adams couple in possession of more than 80 marijuana plants.

Daniel Chao, 37, and Stephanie Lemay, 33, were charged with distributing a class D drug, two counts of class D drug possession, and conspiracy to violate drug laws.

Police estimated the total street value of the marijuana, and hash-oil also found in the home, to be between $88,000 and $352,000. Chao has argued that he was distributing the marijuana legally.

A few weeks later, members of the Berkshire County Drug Task Force seized 38 bags of heroin from a motel room in Williamstown.Police arrested five people at the Howard Johnson motel on Main Street after executing a "no-knock" search warrant and discovering heroin "packaged in a manner consistent with street level distribution" in addition to more than $5,000 in cash.

Corner market

The investigation into an armed robbery at the Corner Market this summer took an interesting turn in November when police arrested the store’s clerk.

When Police responded to a 911 call at the convenience store on Aug. 17, they found a clerk on the floor with her hands bound.

Three months later, North Adams Police hadn’t arrested the two suspects who security footage shows robbing the store of $1,700 -- but have charged the clerk with misleading a police officer and larceny over $250.

Lois Aubin, 44, of Main Road, Stamford, Vt., pleaded not guilty to those charges in Berkshire Superior Court, and police continue their search for the other suspects.

Union Street

Several incidents and arrests near the Union Street McDonald’s prompted North Adams Police to take note of the area.

A North Adams man suffered cranial fractures after three men -- who are now each serving jail time -- assaulted him in the McDonald’s parking lot this summer.

After receiving a tip in December, police found an alleged illegal firearm and 230 Oxycodone pills on a Pittsfield man who had been dining in the McDonald’s at about 1:30 a.m.

Robert Tremble, 23, of Winesap Road, was charged with firearm use in a felony, resisting arrest, carrying a firearm without a license, trafficking in a class B drug, possession of ammunition without an firearm identification card, and distribution of a class B drug, subsequent offense.


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