New York man sentenced for 2017 holdup at Great Barrington store

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PITTSFIELD — A New York man who police found hiding in the trunk of his car was sentenced to up to three years in prison this week after pleading guilty to charges that he robbed the Great Barrington Xtra Mart in 2017.

Francis Taikowski, 28, will begin that sentence after he completes a six-month jail sentence on charges of breaking into a depository, possession of burglary tools and other charges in an unrelated case.

Taikowski admitted that he entered the Xtra Mart about 3 a.m. March 13, 2017, with his hand in a gym bag in an apparent attempt to appear armed.

That clerk recognized Taikowski as a customer and thought he was kidding.

He demanded cash from the register and pressed the bag against the clerk's side. She said she believed it was a handgun. Taikowski left with about $140, according to court files.

The robbery and Taikowski's identification were reported to police and a warrant issued for his arrest. Taikowski's car was spotted in Great Barrington the following afternoon and pulled over.

The driver, Michael Thorpe, denied that anyone besides a passenger was in the car, despite the car's spare tire being in the back seat.

A search revealed Taikowski to be hiding in the trunk.

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Thorpe eventually told police Taikowski had asked for a ride to Connecticut and confided to him that he had robbed the store and had been recognized by the clerk.

Inside the trunk with Taikowski was live shotgun ammunition, said Assistant Berkshire District Attorney Stephanie Ilberg-Lamm, who prosecuted the case.

Taikowski's attorney, Joshua Hochberg, said his client's actions stemmed from desperation while struggling with a drug addiction and that he has been in treatment for addiction since being released on bail.

Taikowski pleaded guilty Tuesday before Judge Mark Mason to one count each of armed robbery and possession of ammunition without a Firearms Identification Card.

Mason adopted the agreed-upon sentencing recommendation offered by Hochberg and Ilberg-Lamm of up to three years in prison, followed by one year of probation, during which time Taikowski must continue substance abuse treatment, remain drug- and alcohol-free and submit to random screenings.

He received credit for 188 days of time served in custody.

Thorpe pleaded guilty in March to one count of being an accessory after the fact and was sentenced to a total of 3 1/2 years in jail, 18 months of which will be served directly with the remaining two years suspended while he serves probation.

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


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