Thetford Man Pleads No Contest to Shooting at Car in Feud
Chelsea — A Thetford man has pleaded no contest to aggravated assault with a weapon after he fired shots into a car that was occupied by men with whom he had been feuding.
In a plea agreement on Friday in Orange Superior Court, Thomas Berecz, 44, pleaded guilty to two misdemeanor counts of reckless endangerment, in addition to pleading no contest to the felony charge. The state dropped a charge of second degree attempted murder.
All three charges combined carry a maximum 17 year prison sentence. Judge Timothy Tomasi ordered a presentence investigation, and once that is complete, a sentencing hearing will be scheduled.
Berecz was first charged in September 2010 after he allegedly fired a 30-30 rifle into an occupied car. The shooting followed a complicated feud between Berecz, his ex-wife and his ex-wife’s new boyfriend and the boyfriend’s family.
Berecz filed for divorce from his wife Diane Berecz in June 2010 and Berecz moved across the street to live with his father, Fred. Diane Berecz continued living in their home and soon Jim Moses Sr., with whom she was having a “romantic” relationship with, moved in.
The estranged couple exchanged accusations, and Diane Berecz repeatedly called police on Berecz and sought a restraining order against him.
Thomas Berecz accused the Moses family of “threatening and harassing” him. Thomas and his father, Fred Berecz, said they parked a vehicle across his driveway on Sept. 13, 2010 in an effort to block off intruders. That evening, a vehicle sped up their driveway, according to court filings, and Thomas and Fred Berecz began to shoot, according to court documents.
Inside the car was James Moses Jr., who suffered a bullet wound to his leg, and his cousin, Kyle Moses, who was unharmed.
Thomas Berecz was first charged with aggravated assault with a weapon in 2010, but more than two years after he was initially arrested, prosecutors filed a second degree attempted murder charge. If convicted, Thomas Berecz could have faced up to life in prison.
Thomas Berecz was scheduled to go to trial this week, but a plea deal was reached on Friday in which the state dismissed the attempted murder charge and Thomas Berecz pleaded no contest to the aggravated assault charge and guilty to the other two charges against him.
Amidst the filing of additional charges, Orange County State’s Attorney Will Porter withdrew from the case in May 2011 citing “irretrievable breakdown in relations between the victims, their extended family and the Orange County State’s Attorneys Office.” Washington County State’s Attorney Tom Kelly then took over the case. Kelly declined to comment because the case is still active.
Thomas Berecz could not be reached for comment on Tuesday and his defense attorney, Dan Sedon, did not return calls.
Thomas Berecz’s father, Fred Berecz, had also been charged with firing shots from a .38 pistol at the car alongside his son. Fred Berecz struck a plea deal in 2012 in which he pleaded no contest to a charge of reckless endangerment and spent 60 days on a work crew.
Sarah Brubeck can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 603-727-3223.
This article has been amended to correct earlier errors. Kyle Moses and James Moses are cousins. An earlier version of this story misstated how the two men are related.
Fred Berecz accepted a plea agreement in 2012 in which he pleaded no contest to a charge of reckless endangerment and served 30 days on a work crew in relation to a 2010 incident in which prosecutors said he and his son shot at an occupied car in their driveway. Berecz's plea agreement and sentencing were incorrect in an earlier version of this story.