Stolen gun-for-drugs deal merits probation

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PITTSFIELD — A North Adams man who admitted that he stole a gun from a parked car and traded it for drugs has been sentenced to probation.

Ryain Gregory, 25, pleaded guilty in Berkshire Superior Court on Thursday to several charges in the February 2018 incident, but the judge took into account what his lawyer called the "remarkable progress" he had made in getting clean and turning around his life while on pretrial probation.

Attorney Glenn Keiderling said that despite a significant record, Gregory has no firearms offenses. And he described the theft as a "crime of opportunity," and he noted that his client confessed when questioned by police on an unrelated matter.

"If he didn't confess, we wouldn't be here," Keiderling said.

Assistant Berkshire District Attorney Heather Valentine sought a sentence of two to three years in state prison, noting Gregory's extensive criminal history.

She said that in the approximately six years since May 2013, Gregory had spent about four of those in jail for a variety of convictions, including breaking and entering, assault and battery and receiving stolen property.

Valentine said that, under the circumstances, her sentencing recommendation was not unreasonable.

Gregory admitted that about 7:30 p.m. Feb. 15, 2018, he was in North Adams looking for items he could trade or sell for drugs.

He found a parked and unlocked vehicle which contained a Smith and Wesson handgun with a laser sight attached.

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He took the gun and brought it to the home of a heroin dealer, who took the weapon in trade for 20 bags of heroin, Valentine said.

The owner of the weapon reported it stolen, and it was recovered.

Valentine said gun owners have a responsibility to keep their weapons secured, but that didn't absolve Gregory in the theft and trade of it.

Gregory pleaded guilty to one count each of trafficking of a firearm, nighttime motor vehicle breaking and entering with the intent to commit a felony and larceny of a firearm.

Judge Karen Goodwin said she found the sentencing particularly difficult because of Gregory's record and the serious nature of the charges, but said it also appeared that he was a young man who seems to have turned a corner in his life.

She also said this likely would be the last break Gregory will get from the legal system.

She gave him a 2 1/2-year jail sentence, which will be suspended for two years while he serves probation. While on probation, Gregory must participate in any recommended treatment and remain drug-free.

If Gregory picks up new charges or violates the conditions of his probation, he faces the imposition of the jail sentence.

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


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