Local man pleads innocent to robbing Girl Scout troop

NORTHAMPTON — The second of two Franklin County men accused of robbing nearly $400 from a Girl Scout troop selling cookies in January has denied charges connected to that crime.

Nicholas Taverna, 22, of Greenfield pleaded not guilty Monday in Hampshire Superior Court to charges of unarmed robbery, assault and battery with a dangerous weapon (motor vehicle) and shoplifting before Judge C. Jeffrey Kinder. He is free on $5,000 bail already posted in district court. He must have no contact with the alleged victims, stay away from Walmart, avoid illegal drugs and submit to random screenings.

According to court records and police reports, on Jan. 19, Taverna and his co-defendant Cassidy Michalski, 25, of Deerfield, entered the Walmart on King Street where Taverna allegedly stole a pair of cell phones from a display rack with the intention of bringing them to Holyoke to trade for drugs. When that plan failed, police said the pair returned to Walmart where they had seen Girl Scouts selling cookies.

While Michalski waited in the car, Taverna grabbed a cash box containing about $392 and ran, according to police. Taverna allegedly jumped in the car and Michalski drove off while the troop leader in pursuit grabbed on to the car and was dragged a short distance before letting go, according to court records.

That troop leader was left with a broken nose and cuts and scrapes to his hand and arm, police said. Michalski pleaded not guilty to the same charges earlier in March and is also free on $5,000 bail. Both men are due back in court on June 26 for pretrial hearings.

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