Man seeks dismissal of his multiple delayed Berkshire Superior Court cases

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PITTSFIELD — A former Williamstown man who is serving up to 17 years on drug and weapons charges is seeking to have four open cases against him dismissed because of delays in the proceedings.

Ernest Harvin, 43, faces separate charges of kidnapping, escaping from a penal institution, threatening to commit a crime, and assault and battery with a dangerous weapon — the earliest of which dates to 2014.

During a hearing Monday on the motion to dismiss in Berkshire Superior Court, Judge Mark Mason noted that each of the cases has gone well in excess of the 365-day standard for a speedy trial, even when factoring in valid exclusions under the statute. Each of the cases exceeded the 365-day allowance, with the amounts of time ranging from 468 to 690 days.

Assistant Berkshire District Attorney Joseph Yorlano concurred with Mason's assessment, but argued that Harvin himself had acquiesced to the delays and, as such, the cases should go forward.

Yorlano suggested that Harvin's own actions, including the escape attempt, in which he allegedly tried to flee after faking a reason to be taken to the hospital, contributed to the delays. Harvin also has not filed any substantive motions, nor has he allowed any "traction" to keep those cases moving forward, said Yorlano, who suspects that much of the delay is deliberate.

"This is exactly what Mr. Harvin wanted," Yorlano said.

Harvin's attorney, Edmund St. John III, agreed with Mason's assessment that, even considering any time lost due to allowable delays in the trial, the state has still long exceeded its limit to bring the cases forward.

Mason said he would take the matter under advisement, but, in the meantime, put the case on the escape charge on the trial list for the near future.

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Harvin's conviction stems from a Berkshire County Drug Task Force probe in summer 2013, during which investigators learned that he was supplying heroin to dealers in the Northern Berkshires, including a 25-year-old North Adams man named Joshua Bressette.

Bressette was taken into custody in a sting operation after selling heroin to a police informant, and agreed to "give up" Harvin, his supplier, according to former Assistant Berkshire District Attorney Richard M. Locke.

Harvin was arrested after fleeing police during a sting operation in Williamstown. Police recovered heroin, weapons and cash in or near his vehicle, which he had crashed into a tree, and at a cabin in Hancock.

He has ties to "violent street gangs" and has "known associates who would be willing to assist in hiding, concealing, or transporting evidence or other witnesses in an effort to foil investigators," according to a probable cause report.

Bressette went missing several months later. His body — with three gunshot wounds to the back and one to the head — was found atop a public housing project in the Bronx on May 8.

Investigators believe he was kidnapped in North Adams and taken to the Bronx, where he was murdered in a drug-related incident, according to The New York Post.

That investigation remains open.

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


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