Dalton man denies stealing from grandmother to feed lottery habit

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PITTSFIELD -- A Dalton ex-convict on Monday denied that he stole about $6,000 from his elderly grandmother to feed his addition to scratch-off lottery tickets.

William Belcher Jr., 60, of Deming Street, allegedly stole thousands of dollars from his 98-year-old grandmother's account between November 2009 and February 2013. At the same time, authorities said, he was failing to properly care for the elderly woman or to pay her bills on time.

Belcher admitted to investigators he had a gambling problem, police said, and spent $300 to $500 a day on scratch-off tickets he purchased from a local gas station.

An August 2012 state investigation revealed that Belcher hadn't taken his grandmother to see the doctor in three years and that she hadn't been taking her prescribed medications for various health issues. There were mouse droppings throughout the apartment Belcher and his grandmother were sharing, the report alleged.

The elderly woman has been in a nursing home since October 2012 after she fell and broke her hip. According to police, the woman had not given Belcher permission to spend her money.

Belcher has 42 previous convictions, mostly for larceny, and has served prison time, according to the Berkshire District Attorney's Office.

He pleaded not guilty in Berkshire Superior Court on Monday to five charges, including a single count of elder abuse by a caretaker and multiple counts of larceny over $250 from a person 60 years of age or older.

At a previous court hearing, Belcher, through his attorney, said he took care of his grandmother, paid her bills and spent $10,000 of his own money on her care. He denied having a gambling problem.

Judge John A. Agostini ordered the $2,500 cash or $25,000 surety bail Belcher posted in District Court transferred to the higher court. The judge additionally ordered Belcher to stay away from his grandmother.

Belcher, who is represented by attorney Jill Sheldon, is expected back in court March 13 for a pretrial hearing.

He was originally charged with 40 crimes, but was indicted on five charges. Police had said he had stolen close to $12,000. That number was scaled back to $6,000 to reflect the charges he was indicted on.

First Assistant Berkshire District Attorney Paul J. Caccaviello was in court Monday for the prosecution.

To reach Andrew Amelinckx:

aamelinckx@berkshireeagle.com,

or (413) 496-6249.

On Twitter: @BE_TheAmelinckx


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