HOLYOKE -- Two teenage brothers pleaded not guilty to multiple charges in a case in which they and their parents were accused of moving into an elderly man's home and turning it into a hub of drug activity.
Matthew Brace, 19, was arrested in Ware on Thursday night, and his brother, Andrew, 16, was arrested there early Friday.
They were charged with illegal possession of syringes and possession of cocaine. Matthew Brace also was charged with receiving stolen property over $250, assault of a person over 65 with a dangerous weapon [a knife], and malicious destruction of property under $250.
On Friday, Holyoke District Court Judge Phillip A. Beattie ordered Matthew Brace held on $5,000 cash bail. Andrew Brace was held on $2,000 bail.
Their father, Cecil R. Brace, 41, was arrested Monday on assault and drug charges and held on $10,000 bail at the Franklin County Jail in Greenfield after pleading not guilty.
Their mother, Cynthia Brace, 41, was arrested on drug charges in Holyoke on Aug. 18, but died two days later after spending the night at the Hampden County Jail in Ludlow. The cause of her death is under investigation.
Prosecutor Michael J. Walsh said during Cecil Brace's arraignment on Tuesday that the family moved into the Holyoke home of Joseph D. Martin, now 77, five years ago after Martin befriended Cynthia Brace. He said Martin was subjected to five years of filthy living conditions in a house that became a hub of drug activity.
''We have a case of the world's worst houseguests," Walsh said.
He said the Braces ''borrowed" $85,000 from Martin since 2000, and forced him to live in a fetid basement with leaking sewage.
After concerned neighbors called police in January to check on Martin, authorities began an investigation, Walsh said. The city ordered the home condemned, and Martin has been in the care of public health and safety officials since late last month.
Police said Matthew Brace confronted Martin in June with a knife and ripped the phone from his cellar bedroom after Martin called E-911 to report a fight upstairs where the Braces lived. The stolen property charge against him stems from jewelry and crystal found at Martin's home and identified by neighbors as stolen from their homes, police said.