PITTSFIELD -- A Dalton ex-convict is facing numerous charges for allegedly neglecting his 97-year-old grandmother and stealing nearly $12,000 -- money that that he spent on scratch-off tickets.
William Belcher Jr., 59, of Deming Street, pleaded not guilty in Central Berkshire District Court on Thursday to 40 charges, including a single count of elder abuse and multiple counts of larceny, forgery and uttering a false check.
Over the course of more than a year, from January 2012 to February 2013, Belcher stole thousands of dollars from his grandmother’s account, while failing to properly care for the elderly woman or to pay her bills on time, according to Dalton Police.
Belcher allegedly spent an average of between $300 and $500 a day on scratch-off tickets at a gas station in Dalton and admitted to police that he had a gambling problem.
Belcher claimed he made $80,000 a year as a local car salesman and doesn’t pay rent, but on numerous occasions his account was overdrawn, police said. He told investigators he spent $10,000 of his own money to care for his grandmother.
An August 2012 investigation by state Elder Services revealed that Belcher hadn’t taken his grandmother to see the doctor in three years, that the woman wasn’t taking prescribed medication for various health issues and that there were mouse droppings throughout the apartment that they were sharing, according to the report. The investigation came after Belcher’s aunt, with whom he shares power of attorney for his grandmother, reported that she believed he was stealing.
Since October 2012, the woman has been living at a local nursing home after falling and breaking her hip.
She allegedly told police she had not given Belcher permission to spend her money.
On Thursday, Assistant Berkshire District Attorney Dana Parsons told the court that Belcher has 42 previous convictions, mostly for larcenous behavior, and has served prison time. She asked for $10,000 in cash bail for the defendant.
The prosecutor said she plans to bring the case to the grand jury.
Belcher’s attorney, William Barry, said his client has power of attorney over his grandmother and was her health care proxy, took care of her bills and that he didn’t have a gambling addiction. He asked that Belcher be released on personal recognizance.
Judge Michael J. Ripps set $2,500 cash or $25,000 bail bond for Belcher and said that if he was released he may have no unsupervised contact with his grandmother.
In court Belcher said he would be able to make bail, but he remained in custody as of Thursday afternoon.
He is scheduled to be back in court on May 14.