NORTHAMPTON, Mass. (WGGB) — Two Athol residents were arraigned today in Hampshire Superior Court in connection with a series of break-ins in Athol, Petersham, New Salem, Russell and Hardwick last year.
34-year-old, Aaron Provencher and 27-year-old, Antonio Velez appeared before Judge Mary-Lou Rup.
Provencher was ordered held on $100,000 cash bail or $1 million surety and Velez was ordered held on $30,000 cash bail or $300,000 surety.
Chief Trial Counsel ADA Jeremy Bucci said Provencher and Velez, over a period of months, stole tens of thousands of dollars-worth of medications, money, jewelry and assorted personal effects, exchanging them for cash at area pawn shops and using the money to buy cocaine and heroin.
Bucci said they called themselves the “Pillowcase Bandits,” because while breaking and entering homes they discovered that they could go directly to the bedroom area, take a pillowcase from the home, quickly fill it with jewelry kept in the bedroom area and escape using a pillowcase or pillowcases to transport the stolen goods from the home.
Each man faces a number of charges including, 4 counts of breaking and entering in the day time with intent to commit a felony, 4 counts of larceny over $250, 4 counts of vandalism, 4 counts of larceny from a building, 7 counts of receiving stolen property over $250, and 3 counts of conspiracy.
Both Provencher and Velez are due to return to Franklin Superior Court on June 4 for a pre-trial hearing.
The investigation was conducted by the Athol police, including Officer Douglas Kaczmarczyk, several other local police departments and the Massachusetts State Police assigned to the Northwestern District Attorney’s Office.