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    Corrections officers and inmates at a Georgia prison are facing charges in a scheme using smuggled cellphones for extortion and fraud, NBC News reported.

    The operation took place at Autry State Prison, and was highlighted in an NBC News investigation about the rise in cellphones in cellblocks.

    Prosecutors said inmates used the phones to collect information on fraud targets. Posing as law enforcement, they called victims and threatened to have them arrested for not attending jury duty. Victims were instructed to buy cash cards and wire the funds into an account. Accomplices outside the prison would then launder the money.

    Fifteen corrections officers, 19 inmates and 17 others have been indicted on federal charges. 



    Photo Credit: Getty Images

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    The Zika virus has now spread to 20 Latin American and Caribbean countries, NBC News reported.

    The virus is now spreading locally in Barbados, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, El Salvador, French Guiana, Guadeloupe, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Martinique, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Puerto Rico, Saint Martin, Suriname, and Venezuela. Samoa, in the south Pacific, is also reporting Zika for the first time.

    The spread of the virus can be expected to escalate, as the mosquitoes that carry it can be found across the region. Some popular tourist destinations have been hit and it’s likely to spread farther, according to international health officials.

    The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Friday repeated its recommendation that pregnant women avoid travel to affected countries until more can be learned about whether it can affect unborn babies.  



    Photo Credit: AP

    A health agent from Sao Paulo's Public health secretary shows army soldiers Aedes aegypti mosquito larvae that she found during clean up operation against the insect, which is a vector for transmitting the Zika virus, in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2016. A U.S. warning urging pregnant women to avoid travel to Latin American countries where the mosquito-borne virus is multiplying threatens to depress tourism to the region, one of its few bright spots at a time of deep economic pain.A health agent from Sao Paulo's Public health secretary shows army soldiers Aedes aegypti mosquito larvae that she found during clean up operation against the insect, which is a vector for transmitting the Zika virus, in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2016. A U.S. warning urging pregnant women to avoid travel to Latin American countries where the mosquito-borne virus is multiplying threatens to depress tourism to the region, one of its few bright spots at a time of deep economic pain.

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    Towns along the coast are not only eyeing the skies but watching the shoreline as well.

    While it was a beautiful mid-winter day in Old Saybrook with light wind, sunshine and a calm Long Island Sound, the town could look very different tomorrow with predictions of 6 inches of snow or more, potentially damaging winds and coastal flooding.

    "We’re looking at our staffing models to make sure that we have enough staff on hand to respond on hand to respond to any type of emergency that could happen during the storm," said Old Saybrook Police Chief Michael Spera.

    Snow could start falling tomorrow morning and will ramp up as the day goes on, bringing with it unusually high tides..

    "We worry because in our neighborhood we’ve had a number of people get flooded from Sandy. A foot or so in our basement. One house it came up to the first floor," Said Judy and Pete Zucco of Old Saybrook," said Judy and Pete Zucco of Old Saybrook.

    "It’s not in anyone’s best interest to be driving around in the storm, come to the beach to watch the storm surge so we ask no one to create an emergency, public safety is busy as we can during storms," said Chief Spera.



    Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

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    A Washington man faces manslaughter charges after a man was found dead from a heroin overdose, Connecticut State Police said.

    Anthony Buonaiuto, 31, of Washington faces second degree manslaughter and sale of narcotics charges. Dana Baxter, 57, of Torrington is charged with sale of narcotics and conspiracy to sell narcotics.

    Police launched an investigation in the untimely death of a 35-year-old Morris man who was found with several bags of heroin and drug paraphernalia on Sept. 19.

    The investigation found that the victim was at Buonaiuto's house on Brinsmaid Road in Washington earlier in the day. A search warrant allowed police to seize several used bags of heroin and paraphernalia found at the home on Sept. 22. 

     The couple was arrested on Jan. 21 after Connecticut State Police determined Buonaiuto and Baxter allegedly sold the victim with heroin prior to his death.

    Buonaiuto is being held on a $150,000 bond and Baxter on a $100,000 bond. It is not clear if either has an attorney.



    Photo Credit: Connecticut State Police

    Anthony Buonaiuto and Dana BaxterAnthony Buonaiuto and Dana Baxter

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    A U.S. Navy sailor has been charged with two counts of sexual assault to a minor, state police said. 

    Albert Miguel Bustamante, who is enlisted in the Navy as machinist mate, was arrested on Thursday after police launched an investigation in June 2015.

    Police reported that Bustamante sexually assaulted a 15-year-old from Hebron.

    Bustamante is a machinist mate fireman who was stationed in Groton from Dec. 2014 to May 2015 before being relocated to Maryland, according to a representative for the Navy. He enlisted in the Navy in 2013.

    No other information was provided at this time.



    Photo Credit: Connecticut State Police

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    Several flights have been canceled ahead of the weekend storm and many airlines are waiving fees for passengers to change or cancel their flights.

    In Connecticut, we’re expecting snow, but states to our south are expected to get a big storm and travelers at Bradley International Airport are experiencing cancellations and delays. 

    Airport officials said this is because of airports to our south that are experiencing storms, not conditions at Bradley.

    Flights have been canceled to several areas, including Baltimore, Charlotte, Raleigh and Washington, DC. Travelers are urged to check their flight status and arrive at the airport two hours early.

    American Airlines is one of the airlines waiving fees for travelers scheduled to fly between Jan. 21 and 24 through several airports, including Bradley International Airport, as well as Tweed, Logan, Newark, Islip, LaGuardia, JFK, Westchester County Airport, TG Green in Rhode Island and more. See the full list and instructions on how to change your flight

    United Airlines is waiving fees for travelers flying between Jan. 22 and 24 from airlines, including Bradley, as well as other airports in New England and New York. See the full list. 

    United is waiving the change fee and any difference in fare for new flights departing on or before January 20 through 27 as long as travel is rescheduled in the same cabin and between the same cities as originally ticketed.

    Delta is also waiving change fees for travelers at several airports, including Bradley and other airports in the region. 

    Southwest Airlines is warning of possible delays, diversions and canceled flights and is allowing travelers to change plans. Get more information on how to make changes on the Southwest Airlines website

    JetBlue is also waiving change and cancel fees for travelers flying on Saturday from Bradley, Boston, New York, Rhode Island and Worcester.  



    Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

    Long lines are forming at Bradley Airport ahead of the storm.Long lines are forming at Bradley Airport ahead of the storm.

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    The economic impact of the massive snowstorm blanketing much of the East Coast will likely be blunted due to people hunkering down for the weekend, experts say, but a significant chunk of the cost will depend on how cities respond, NBC News reports.

    Weather intelligence service Planalytics Inc. estimates that with roughly 70 million people in the storm's path, the damage will be anywhere from $585 to $850 million.

    "That's a big chunk of the nation. And what happens with storms like this is everything just kind of stops, including money," said Planalytics president Scott Bernhardt, though he noted that storms that hit on a weekend have less of an economic impact than storms that occur during a work week. 

    The damage that snowstorms of this size inflict on the economy is real. In 2015, the largest insured loss event worldwide was one of the winter storms that hit the East Coast, with insured losses estimated at $2 billion.



    Photo Credit: AP

    Snow plows and traffic make their way north along Interstate 95 as snow begins to fall in Ashland, Va., Friday, Jan. 22, 2016.Snow plows and traffic make their way north along Interstate 95 as snow begins to fall in Ashland, Va., Friday, Jan. 22, 2016.

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    The timing of the storm is good news for commuters, but not for business owners on the shoreline who say it could have an impact on their bottom line.

    Inside Wave Gallery on Chapel Street, they have already made the calls to employees who live within walking distance to make sure someone can come in if the weather gets bad.

    “We just kind of watch because depending on what the roads are doing that could determine if we have to close early,” sales associate Jessica French said.

    Wave Gallery has been in New Haven for 30 years so employees are prepared for winter storms, they just wish the snow was not falling on one of their busiest days of the week.

    “It certainly hurts us,” French said. “Weekends are the bread and butter because that’s the most time where people are off from work and wandering around.”

    Inside Tarry Lodge restaurant, they say they are not concerned the snow will keep customers away, but the parking ban could have an impact. The ban goes into effect Saturday at midnight and lasts until midnight Sunday.

    “The parking bans really create a scenario where people don’t know really where to go or what to do, so that’s the only challenge with the weather,” general manager Steve Bayusik said. “We’re not that worried because once they get here, there’s plenty of Bolognese for everyone.”

    The snow means more dough at Est. Est. Pizza in New Haven. They say delivery sales go up roughly 50 percent.

    “We get hammered,” Chris Stackpole, an employee said. “We’re busier when it snows than when it’s fair weather.”

    No matter what way you slice it, businesses in New Haven say they will be ready for anyone willing to brave the snow.

    “There’s retail therapy,” French said. “Who wants to be cooped up? There’s only so many hours you can be stuck in the house before you go nuts.”



    Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

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    Police in Las Vegas are investigating an officer-involved shooting, according to the police department's Twitter account.

    "We are currently investigating an #OIS on Las Vegas Boulevard in front of the @Bellagio," the department tweeted.

    Authorities said they shut down streets in the area as a result of the investigation.

     NBC affiliate KSNV reported that the shooting happened at 7:30 PM local time.

    No details were immediately available. 


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    USA Today recently released their nominations for the Readers Choice 10 Best Terrain Parks and best ski town in the country. On that list was Vermont's own Stratton Mountain Resort. So today we're going to take a peek at how the resort is getting its park ready to be a winner.

    Cassie Russo, the social media and communications manager at Stratton said, "I definitely think our expertise separates us from other terrain parks"

    A terrain park is an area featuring a number of jumps, rails, and other challenging obstacles. David Snyder has been with Stratton for 15 years making sure their parks, are well maintained and unique to their resort.

    "I think what we have here at Stratton is a lot of progression parks that can get you from never even hitting a rail to hitting the big jumps" said David Snyder, Terrain Park Manager.

    Stratton offers lessons to help you safely navigate the parks, and they can assure you, you'll never get bored!

    Russo explains, "We definitely try to switch it up and make each park different so you're not doing the same thing over again"

    You can also count on the parks being maintained all season long.

    "Every night we have the cats go out and they groom the terrain and in the morning we have a day crew that goes out with rakes and shovels and fixes up the take offs to make sure that it's a good surface for the riders" explains Snyder.

    And at just a couple hours north, getting a top notch mountain experience is closer than you think.

    "I think sometimes people as far as terrain parks and mountains in general, they think out west they have the best of the best but really the best of the best is in Vermont" said Russo.

    And if you’re heading out on Saturday in southern new England you’ll see some snow depending upon where you are, otherwise just mostly cloudy. Temperatures will be bitter cold in the 20s. Sunday will be slightly warmer with a mixture of sun and clouds. Northern New England is looking cloudy for Saturday with a slight chance for a few flurries and temperatures in the 20’s. temperatures stay cold on Sunday with just a bit more Sunday.

    Also on the list of nominations from New England is Loon Mountain in New Hampshire and Mount Snow in Vermont. You have 19 days left to vote you can find all the details on the Stratton Mountain Resort Facebook Page.



    Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

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    A blizzard warning is now in effect for coastal Connecticut through Sunday morning. A winter storm warning is in effect for northern Fairfield, New Haven, Middlesex, and New London counties. A winter weather advisory is in effect for the remainder of the state. 

    NBC Connecticut has declared Saturday and Sunday as First Alert Weather Days.

    The forecast calls for 1 to 3 inches in far northern Connecticut, 3 to 6 inches in central Connecticut and up to a foot for the immediate shoreline.

    Strong, gusty winds along with heavy snowfall will result in blizzard conditions at time for the Connecticut shoreline. Winds of over 35 mph and visibility less than 1/4 mile are required for 3 consecutive hours for a storm to be classified a blizzard. 

    A tight snowfall gradient will exist across the state, meaning that any slight shift would result in big changes to the snowfall forecast.

    Damaging wind gusts are also a concern along the shoreline. Scattered power outages are possible with gusts over 50 mph.

    Minor coastal flooding is anticipated late tomorrow evening during high tide along the entire Connecticut shoreline.

    The bull's-eye of 1 to 2 feet plus will be far south of Connecticut, in places like northern Virginia and western Maryland. A blizzard warning has already been issued for the nation's capital and Long Island -- only 20 miles from Connecticut.

    Dry weather is expected Sunday and Monday before a warm-up arrives Tuesday, with rain showers possible.

    Stay with the First Alert weather team for the latest on the track of the storm.



    Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut
    This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story in your web browser.

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    Sentinels were standing their posts in Arlington National Cemetery Friday evening through a potentially historic blizzard in Washington, D.C.

    Photo Credit: Courtesy of 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment

    "I will guard everything within the limits of my post and quit my post only when properly relieved," The Old Guard posted on Twitter.

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    Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has reportedly told advisers to work on plans for a potential independent campaign for president in this year's race, sources confirmed to NBC News.

    The New York Times first reported the news Saturday, citing unnamed sources briefed on his deliberations, that the 73-year-old media mogul has indicated to friends and allies that he would be willing to spend $1 billion of his vast fortune on a White House bid. 

    According to the source, Bloomberg has set a March deadline — the latest point at which he could qualify as an independent candidate on the ballot in all 50 states — and his decision will likely be contingent on the results of early primaries.

    Sources close to Bloomberg tell NBC News that the former mayor is more likely to run if the nominees were Donald Trump or Ted Cruz on the Republican ticket and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders on the Democratic side.

    Rumors of Bloomberg's presidential aspirations have been swirling since 2007 when the then-NYC mayor left the Republican party and registering as an Independent. The billionaire and former CEO of his financial services company was a life-long Democrat before switching to the GOP for his first mayoral run. 

    Bloomberg flirting with a presidential run in the past as a third-party candidate. 



    Photo Credit: Getty Images for Jazz at Lincoln Center

    In this file photo, former New York City Mayor, Michael Bloomberg attends the opening of the Mica and Ahmet Ertegun Atrium at Jazz at Lincoln Center on December 17, 2015 in New York City.In this file photo, former New York City Mayor, Michael Bloomberg attends the opening of the Mica and Ahmet Ertegun Atrium at Jazz at Lincoln Center on December 17, 2015 in New York City.

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    As the state experiences the first significant snowstorm of the season, several towns are opening warming centers. 

    Canton

    • Canton Public Library, 40 Dyer Ave., Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; handicapped accessible; no pets are allowed unless they're designated as service animals; no accomidations overnight

    Danbury

    • Good Samaritan Day Center, 13 Maple Ave., Danbury, open all day Saturday and will serve lunch; may stay open for breakfast on Sunday morning if Dorothy Day Soup Kitchen isn't open
    • Dorothy Day Soup Kitchen, opens at 3 p.m.
    • Shelter from the Cold at Saint James AME Church, 45 Williams St., open all day; serving lunch; may serve breakfast Sunday

    Hartford

    • Parker Memorial, 2621 Main Street, Saturday 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
      Pope Park, 30 Pope Park Dr., Time, Saturday 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
    • Hartford Downtown Library, 500 Main St., Saturday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.
    • Albany Library Branch, 1250 Albany Avenue, Saturday 12:30 p.m. to 5 p.m.
    • Barbour Branch, 281 Barbour St., Saturday 12:30 p.m. to 5 p.m.
    • Camp Field Branch, 30 Campfield Ave., Saturday 12:30 p.m. to 5 p.m.
    • Mark Twain Branch, 55 Forest St., Saturday 9 a.m.  to 1 p.m.
    • Goodwin, 460 New Britain Ave., Saturday 12:30 p.m. to 5 p.m.
       

    Middletown

    • St. Vincent De Paul; South Congregational Church, 9 Pleasant St., Middletown, 9 p.m. to 7 a.m. through Feb. 6; single adult men and women only, no children

    New Haven

    • Bethel AME Church Warming Center, 255 Goffe St., New Haven, normally open daily 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. and open noon Saturday, Jan. 23 to Sunday at 8 a.m.; single adults only, no children; call 203-865-0514 for more information.
    • Church on the Rock Overnight Warming Center, 95 Hamilton St., open 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. daily for men and women and open extended hours Saturday, Jan. 23 at noon until Sunday, Jan. 24 at noon. 

    Stamford

    • Chester Addison Community Center, 245 Selleck Street, Monday to Friday (9 a.m. to 6 p.m.)
    • Faith Tabernacle Missionary Baptist Church, 29 Grove St., Monday to Thursday (6 p.m. to 9 p.m., no Fridays), Saturday (5 p.m. to 9 p.m.), Sunday (3:30 p.m. to 9 p.m.)
    • Glenbrook Community Center, 35 Crescent St., Monday to Friday (8 a.m. to 9:30 p.m.), Saturday to Sunday (10 a.m. –to 9:30 p.m.)
    • Government Center, 888 Washington Blvd., 1st floor lobby, Monday to Friday (7 a.m. to 10 p.m.)
      Jewish Community Center, 1035 Newfield Ave., Monday to Thursday (5:30 a.m. to 10 p.m.), Friday (5:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.), Saturday to Sunday (7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.)
    • Stamford Family YMCA, 10 Bell Street, Monday to Friday (9 a.m. to 6 p.m.)

    During severe cold weather protocols, Stamford-based Inspirica will have an overnight warming center 8 p.m. to 8 a.m. the next morning at 8 Woodland Place  for the homeless. 

    Waterbury

    • Waterbury Hospital Center, 693 East Main St., open 7 p.m. to 7 p.m. Jan. 23 to 24 as warming center/overflow shelter for single adults, call 203-591-9156 for more information.

    Officials warn pet owners that pets should not be kept outside during extremely cold weather because they can suffer frostbite and hypothermia the same as humans. 



    Photo Credit: Getty Images/Tetra images RF

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    The state is shutting down bus services along the shoreline towns due to blizzard-like conditions and Metro-North trains are also closing in Connecticut and New York. 

    CT Transit buses in Stamford, Norwalk, Greater Bridgeport and Milford and the Coastal Link will stop running for the day at noon, accroding to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority. 

    Long Island Railroad, Metro-North Railroad and above-ground NYC Subway services in both New York and Connecticut are shutting down at 4 p.m. due to the snowstorm and for customer and employee safety. 

    New York City Transit and MTA bus services are also shutting down. 


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    Firefighters battled not only flames but flooding as they tried to control a coffee shop blaze in a popular Jersey Shore town Saturday.

    As a winter storm continued to pound Sea Isle City with heavy winds and wet weather, firefighters tried to extinguish a fire at the Avalon Coffee Company at Landis Avenue and 42nd Street in Sea Isle City early in the afternoon.

    Luckily no one was hurt.

    The fact that the blaze broke out around low tide made things easier, but not easy, on firefighters.

    “Luckily the tide was receding enough that all the other agencies that came to assists were able to get here… in efforts to put this fire out, said Lt. Thomas McQuillen of the Sea Isle City Police Department.

    No word yet on what caused the fire.



    Photo Credit: NBC10

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    The town of Greenwich has issued a snow emergency effective at 4:00 pm.

    Capt. Robert Berry with the Greenwich police urged people to not park on designated snow emergency roads. As an alternative, Berry asks that people park at municipal buildings.

    Greenwich may get up to 20 inches of snow by midnight and will experience blizzard conditions until then, Berry warned. 

    A list of snow emergency roads are availabe on the town's website.

    Earlier on Saturday, one person was injured when a CT Transit bus crashed into a utility pole in Greenwich.



    Photo Credit: John Sullivan

    A bus accident occurred in Greenwich, Connecticut.A bus accident occurred in Greenwich, Connecticut.

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    There is a significant structure fire  on 20 American Legion Drive in Manchester, police confirmed.

    Firefighters are at the scene. Legion Drive is closed, police said.

    A viewer video shows firefighters at the American Legion in Manchester battling the blaze. Firefighters said it was a 3-alarm fire. 

    There are no other details at this time. 



    Photo Credit: Manchester Police/Facebook

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    Glenn Beck officially endorsed Ted Cruz for president on Saturday while campaigning for the Texas senator in Iowa, NBC News reported.

    "I am here to announce that I am officially endorsing Ted Cruz," Beck said as he introduced the GOP hopeful in Ankeny.

    The Conservative media personality also lauded Cruz’s “principles” on Twitter.

    It comes days after Sarah Palin endorsed GOP frontrunner Donald Trump.  



    Photo Credit: Getty, AP

    Glenn Beck, left, endorsed presidential candidate Ted Cruz on Jan. 23, 2016.Glenn Beck, left, endorsed presidential candidate Ted Cruz on Jan. 23, 2016.

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    Family members of a woman killed in the San Bernardino terror attack are seeking $204 million in damages in three claims against the county.

    The father, stepmother and sister of 27-year-old Sierra Clayborn filed claims of negligence and wrongful death against San Bernardino County on Thursday.

    They also say the county fostered a hostile work environment and failed to provide a safe workplace.

    County spokesman David Wert said in a statement Friday that "the county will carefully consider each claim and act in the best interests of everyone involved.''

    Clayborn was among 14 people killed in the Dec. 2 massacre.

    The husband-and-wife killers, Syed Farook and Tashfeen Malik, died in a shootout with police the same day.

    The Clayborns are the second family to file claims stemming from the shooting.



    Photo Credit: Courtesy of the Clayborn family

    Sierra Clayborn, 27Sierra Clayborn, 27

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