Charges filed against alleged john in widening probe of prostitution in Pittsfield

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PITTSFIELD — Another man faces charges connected to an ongoing investigation into prostitution throughout the city.

Mark J. Beauchemin, 59, of Pittsfield, was arraigned in Central Berkshire District Court on Wednesday and released on his own recognizance by Judge Paul Smyth.

Meanwhile, dangerousness hearings that had been scheduled for Wednesday for the first two men arrested in the investigation — Randy Lambach, 45, of Becket, and 65-year-old Joseph E. Van Wert of Pittsfield — were moved to Jan. 12.

Both men continue to be held without the right to bail, pending results of those hearings.

The investigation began last spring after Pittsfield Police began receiving an increased number of reports of prostitution and drug use in particular areas of the city.

Beauchemin came to the attention of investigators in late summer, when his name was mentioned as a customer, or john.

During surveillance in the fall, police saw a woman known to be a prostitute get into the passenger side of a vehicle driven by Beauchemin. The vehicle returned to the same spot about 90 minutes later, when the first woman was dropped off and a second woman, also known to police to be prostituted, was picked up and driven toward Windsor Avenue.

Police later interviewed a witness who confirmed that Beauchemin picked up the first woman, drove her to his home and paid her for sex, before bringing her back to the original spot, picking up the second woman and driving her to his home and also paying her for sex, before driving her to the pickup spot.

According to police, Beauchemin was frequently spotted in the same area as the investigation continued.

On Nov. 18, police spoke with Beauchemin at the Pittsfield Police Department, where, they say, he admitted to paying for sex with prostitutes, all of whom he said were heroin addicts.

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Beauchemin told police he hired prostitutes seven or eight times and paid them $10 to $50.

Beauchemin described the women as desperate due to their addictions, but denied giving any of them drugs.

Beauchemin was summoned into court and entered not guilty pleas to two counts of paying for sexual conduct and one count of maintaining a house of prostitution.

He is due back in court March 1 for a pretrial hearing.

Lambach is accused of seeking out women with a drug addiction, placing photos of them in online classified ads for sexual services, making arrangements with the customers, and taking the women to and from their appointments.

According to witnesses, Lambach would keep most of the money the women earned and threatened to report them to police if they stopped working for him.

The investigation showed that Van Wert's apartment, which is in a senior housing complex, was used for people to have sex with the women alleged to have been trafficked, and he was paid in cash and drugs for the use of his home.

Van Wert also allegedly paid for sex with the women.

Lambach has pleaded not guilty to four counts of human trafficking. Van Wert has pleaded not guilty to conspiracy to commit human trafficking, deriving support from prostitution, maintaining a house of prostitution and sexual conduct for a fee.

Several other men have been identified in the investigation. They face charges ranging from paying for sexual conduct to deriving support from prostitution and human trafficking.

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


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