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Elsbach given 6 months probation for ‘tagging’ incident

The charge was amended to “tagging,” a misdemeanor, rather than the original charge of vandalism, which is a felony in Massachusetts and carries more severe penalties.

Great Barrington — A Sheffield man who, last fall, defaced machinery belonging to Joe Wilkinson Excavating was given six months probation and has to pay several thousand dollars in restitution and fees after admitting to “facts sufficient” that might have landed him a conviction upon trial, according to Southern Berkshire Court Clerk’s office.

Great Barrington Fairground developer, artist, and former Sheffield Zoning Board of Appeals Chairman Bart Elsbach was accused last November of spray-painting dollar signs and epithets on equipment stationed for several weeks on a job near the top of Taconic Avenue/St. James Place. Great Barrington Police said a resident who noticed a man behaving strangely near a small excavator one evening called them with a partial license plate number and car model. Upon arrival at the scene, an officer smelled fresh paint, police said, and police eventually traced the plate number to Elsbach’s car, parked in his driveway in Sheffield. The witness later identified Elsbach in a witness “show up,” police said.

Elsbach retained attorney Leonard Cohen of Pittsfield firm Cohen, Kinne, Valenti & Cook, LLP.

Elsbach was ordered to pay Joe Wilkinson Excavating $3,934.31 in restitution, and must also stay away from the Wilkinsons — his Boardman Street neighbor — as a condition of probation. He was also ordered to pay a $50 victim witness fee, and a $50 probation fee for six months. The charge was amended to “tagging,” a misdemeanor, rather than the original charge of vandalism, which is a felony in Massachusetts and carries more severe penalties.

According to the clerk’s office, if Elsbach abides by the conditions set by the court and his probation until September 3, 2015, the case will be dismissed, though the incident will always remain on his record.

As chairman of the Sheffield ZBA, Elsbach was a vocal opponent of the recently built Dollar General store franchise in Sheffield. Joe Wilkinson Excavating worked at the site during the store’s construction last year.

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