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An Adams man has been sentenced to up to five years in prison for selling stolen copper wire from a Florida wind farm, while his daughter’s case, tied to the same incidents, was continued without a finding of guilt.
Mark Bednarz, 48, pleaded guilty in Berkshire Superior Court on Thursday to a single count of felony wanton destruction of property and four counts of receiving stolen property.
Remarking that Bednarz had an “extraordinary” criminal record, Judge John A. Agostini sentenced him to at least two years and up to five years in state prison.
According to Assistant Berkshire District Attorney Joseph Yorlano, Bednarz was one of nine defendants involved in the theft and sale of specially made copper wire stolen from Iberdrola Renewables, which owns and operates a wind farm on Bakke Mountain.
Yorlano said there were two groups of Berkshire County residents involved in the crimes that took place in October and November 2013 and that Mark Bednarz was the “leader” of the one of these groups who sold the high-priced wire to area scrap yards.
This second group was made up of Adams residents, included his daughter, Tiffany Bednarz, according to the prosecutor.
The thieves tunneled under a security fence and stole thousands of pounds of the copper wire made specifically for wind turbines. Neither Mark Bednarz nor his daughter were charged with the thefts; only with selling the wire.
Yorlano said the company was out about $57,000 because of the thefts.
The defendant’s attorney, Thomas C. Doyle, denied his client was the ringleader and pointed the finger at Brian McAdoo, who is also charged in the crimes. Doyle said Mark Bednarz was recruited by McAdoo to help sell the stolen wire.
He said it was McAdoo who was running the show and pointed to the allegations that police found evidence of a wire-stripping operation at McAdoo’s residence as evidence of this. He asked the court to sentence Mark Bednarz to 2 1/2 years in jail with another 2 1/2-year suspended sentence.
Yorlano was asking for a 3- to 5-year prison sentence, mostly based on the defendant’s “remarkable” and “lengthy” record that stretches back to the 1990s and includes larcenies, assaultive behavior and drug charges. Yorlano said the defendant had earned a “lifetime achievement” award for criminal behavior.
In 1990, Mark Bednarz was sentenced to a 10- to 15-year prison sentence for breaking and entering and other charges, the prosecutor said.
The defendant already is serving a nine-month jail sentence for threatening someone with a knife, he told the court.
Agostini dismissed the idea that there were any “ringleaders” in this “unsophisticated” criminal enterprise. He said the defendant knew what he was involved in.
On Friday, Tiffany Bednarz appeared with attorney Glenn W. Keiderling Jr., in the same courtroom where her father had been the day before and pleaded guilty to a single count of receiving stolen property over $250. Agostini continued the case without a finding of guilt for a year during which time she must refrain from illegal drugs, stay away from the wind farm and undergo drug testing. If she obeys the conditions and stays out of trouble the felony charge will be dismissed in a year.
McAdoo’s case remains pending.
The investigation was conducted by state troopers assigned to the Cheshire barracks.
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