Sentencing delayed for Pittsfield officer, other man in assault case

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PITTSFIELD — Sentencing has been pushed back to Friday for a city police officer and his neighbor, both of whom were convicted last week of multiple charges related to a 2016 assault and a subsequent cover-up.

Michael McHugh and Jason LaBelle had been scheduled to appear in Berkshire Superior Court on Tuesday afternoon for their sentencing hearing. That hearing has been rescheduled to 9 a.m. Friday.

After about 20 hours of deliberation, McHugh, who was off-duty from Pittsfield Police Department that night, was convicted Nov. 27 of assault and battery, filing a false police report and misleading police. LaBelle, 39, was convicted of filing a false criminal report, misleading a clerk and misleading a judge.

Both men were each acquitted of one count of assault and battery with a dangerous weapon. LaBelle was also found not guilty of one count of assault and battery.

The victim in the case, Michael Cebula, is LaBelle's estranged father in-law and was left with seven fractured ribs and a fractured vertebra after the assault. He was hospitalized for over a week for treatment of those injuries.

Defense attorneys for the pair argued LaBelle and his family were in fear of Cebula, 57, who they said was exhibiting concerning behavior and McHugh acted properly when he took Cebula into custody on suspicion of driving while intoxicated on July 4, 2016.

Attorneys Timothy Shugrue and Timothy Burke, representing McHugh and LaBelle, respectively, argued the indictments were the result of Cebula's perjured testimony about how much he had to drink that day and, due to his level of intoxication, Cebula's recollection of that night's events was unreliable.

McHugh, 45, was placed on unpaid suspension from the department after he was indicted. As of Tuesday morning, his job status remains unchanged, pending further action, according to Pittsfield Police Chief Michael Wynn.

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



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