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Three arraigned for Amherst home invasion

  • John Joseph Niemiec III, 29, of Sunderland appeared for his dangerousness hearing in Eastern Hampshire District Court in Belchertown on Wednesday, February 8, 2017. Gazette File photo



@ecutts_HG
Tuesday, April 04, 2017

NORTHAMPTON — Three suspects — one new — believed to have been involved in a violent Amherst home invasion made their first appearances in Northampton Superior Court Friday morning.

Two individuals, John Joseph Niemiec III, 29, of Sunderland and Joseph T. Barcelos, 20, of Belchertown, had previously been arraigned in Eastern Hampshire District Court in Belchertown. Brittany Buckowski, of Sunderland, had not previously been arraigned.

All three pleaded not guilty to the numerous charges including conspiracy to commit home invasion, conspiracy to commit armed and masked robbery, three counts of armed and masked robbery, breaking and entering in the nighttime and larceny in a building.

Buckowski also faces charges of accessory after the fact and misleading a police officer. She allegedly helped harbor, conceal, maintain or assist another defendant, Stephanos Georgiadis, following the incident, according to the indictment.

Niemiec faces a charge of misleading a police officer. Barcelos also faces charges of assault and battery, assault and battery with a dangerous weapon and aggravated assault and battery by means of a dangerous weapon.

Niemiec and Buckowski were released on similar conditions including that they stay away from the Amherst home, stay drug and alcohol free and report to probation once a week.

Barcelos was held without right to bail with a bail review scheduled for April 19. Barcelos’ attorney Colin Keefe had previously asked for a competency hearing. At the arraignment, Barcelos was found competent for the arraignment but would undergo further evaluation.

Two other men have been arraigned on similar charges relating the October home invasion.

Georgiadis, 25, of Hadley, last month pleaded not guilty in Hampshire Superior Court to charges of conspiracy to commit home invasion, conspiracy to commit armed and masked robbery, assault and battery, assault and battery with a dangerous weapon, aggravated assault and battery with a dangerous weapon, three counts of armed and masked robbery, breaking and entering in the night time, and larceny from a building.

Georgiadis has been free on $10,000 bail since a February hearing in district court. He is due back in court May 25.

Patrick Bemben, 25, formerly of Hadley, was also previously charged.

According to court documents, in the early morning hours of Oct. 30, Bemben and Georgiadis, armed and wearing tactical gear, allegedly ransacked a South East Street home in pursuit of drugs and valuables, police said, while Niemec served as the lookout.

Authorities say two of the home’s residents were seriously injured while the home invasion was being carried out. One received wounds to his arm from a hatchet. The other was struck in the head with a gun.

Bemben and Georgiadis allegedly ran into a wooded area behind the home where authorities recovered items typically used in marijuana production.

A large container with at least a pound of marijuana also was found, police said. After the foot pursuit Bemben was in possession of goggles, a headlamp, a tactical bulletproof vest, a hatchet, pepper spray, various knives and a baton, said prosecutors.

Bemben has been released on $35,000 cash bail and is receiving treatment at the Recovery Center of Americas in Westminster. Niemec pleaded not guilty in district court to two charges of conspiracy and remains free after posting $5,000 bail.

More details about Barcelos’ alleged involvement was not available as documents from the lower court had been sealed. No additional information about Buckowski’s role was available.

Emily Cutts can be reached at ecutts@gazettenet.com.