Court expected to dismiss charges against Sheffield men in assault stemming from overdose death

GREAT BARRINGTON — A father and son will likely see charges dismissed in a case in which they assaulted a man they believe helped a family member obtain a lethal heroin dose.

But first, they must complete counseling and an anger management course.

At a Thursday hearing in Southern Berkshire District Court, Judge Paul Vrabel ordered that Ralph Lombardi, 58, undergo counseling as a condition of having charges of assault and battery and kidnapping dropped at a hearing April 12. The judge acted after learning that Lombardi been qualified for the Valor Act Diversion Program by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. The program supports alternative court outcomes for veterans with no criminal convictions.

Further, Vrabel ordered a mental health evaluation, counseling and an anger management class for Michael Lombardi, 27, after which assault and battery charges against him will be dismissed without a finding. Vrabel dismissed the disorderly conduct charge Thursday.

The younger Lombardi will not technically be on probation, but will be monitored for one year to make sure he completes the programs, said his attorney, Lori Levinson.

She said neither man will have a criminal record stemming from this incident.

The Lombardis, who live in Sheffield, were arrested Sept. 18 outside their van on Baldwin Hill Road in Egremont. That same day, they had learned that Christine Lombardi, 32, had died of an overdose in Rhode Island. She was Ralph Lombardi's daughter and Michael Lombardi's sister.

On the day of the attack, the Lombardis returned from Rhode Island. They said text messages on Christine Lombardi's phone identified a man who played a part in providing the heroin that killed her.

The two went to Egremont to confront the man, who climbed into their van for a conversation that turned violent. It ended with the Lombardis beating the man on the side of the road, police said. That man has not been charged.

Levinson said the circumstances leading to the incident were "absolutely extraordinary" and did not reflect the natures of the men.

"This is not who my client is," she said during Michael Lombardi's hearing. "They had just returned from Rhode Island ... they were distraught ... things just got out of hand in the middle of an extremely tragic day."

Heather Bellow can be reached at or on Twitter at @BE_hbellow and 413-329-6871.


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