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    A longtime Waterbury police officer was fired after police say he lied about his encounter with an armed robbery suspect.

    But the local police union contests that Officer Kevin Siton should have been able to keep his job, citing a spotless record of service and arguing that he did not commit a crime.

    "The issue investigated, even if true, should not have resulted in termination," Lt. Nicholas Lukiwsky, Waterbury police union president, said "He is not accused of any criminal wrongdoing and clearly was acting in a brave and courageous way when he attempted to locate a very dangerous felon. I believe that Officer Siton will ultimately be cleared in this case.”

    Siton has been with the Waterbury Police Department for 19 years and has no prior issues on his record, according to Lukiwsky.

    Police confirmed that a suspect in a Brass Mill Center mall armed robbery a few months ago was able to escape due to mistakes he made and that Siton falsely stated that he never found the man to begin with, according to police. He was terminated after police said he violated department policies.

    Lukiwsky declined to comment further and the Waterbury Police Department also declined to grant an interview on the situation.



    Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

    Waterbury PoliceWaterbury Police

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    Hundreds of police officers and their supporters gathered in downtown Miami Monday evening in a show of support to two murdered NYPD officers and those who put their lives on the line every day.

    “To give police the encouragement that they need because they just feel like everyone is against them at this time,” said supporter, Barbara Saud.

    Rally organizers said they held the event to support police officers everywhere. Officer Rigo Olivera of the Miami Fraternal Order of Police said he was tired of police officers being “victimized.”

    “Enough is enough with police officers,” Olivera said. “We are being victimized and we need it to stop. We are here to protect people.

    The rally is part of a nation-wide movement calling for an end to violence toward police. Supporters were asked to show up wearing blue shirts or NYPD shirts, after two officers in New York were gunned down in their patrol car last week.

    It comes after several incidents that saw police shoot and kill unarmed men and not face any repercussions. The protests of questionable police tactics accelerated after the state of New York declined to prosecute an officer who held a suspect in a choke hold until he died.

    During the Monday rally, the crowd that gathered left luminaries along the way, one for each of the more than 750 law enforcement workers that have been killed in the line of duty. Organizers hope the rally will inspire other cities to follow suit.

    “I do believe in a peaceful protest,” said Detective Jerry Dellamico of Miami Police. “I think that everybody has their right to express their opinion peacefully and that’s what we’re here to do tonight.”

    Monday’s rally drew officers from all across the southern part of Florida and some from even as far away as Texas.

    Later this week, a further show of support is expected as people are being encouraged to replace their front porch light with blue bulbs to show their support to law enforcement officers.


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    While federal authorities investigate an anonymous threat of violence against the town of East Lyme, local officials are taking precautions to keep residents safe and have canceled a high school girls' basketball game slated for Monday night.

    "In the world we live in, we take each and every one of these threats very seriously. We want to err on the side of caution," explained East Lyme First Selectman Paul Formica. "We want to make sure we can provide the best security we can, so the superintendent said, 'Let's cancel today.'"

    School superintendent Jim Lombardo said officials will convene Tuesday morning to review the police investigation and determine the fate of a boys' basketball tournament scheduled for tomorrow.

    Formica said the threat, which did not mention a specific target, was discovered on the social media app YikYak late the evening of Dec. 23 or early Christmas Eve.

    "East Lyme better get ready for the hail of bullets. I've been bullied too long and after break I'm going to let all my anger out," the post said.

    State police and the FBI are helping police in East Lyme investigate the town-wide threat and are working to track down the person behind it.

    East Lyme students return to school next Monday and Formica said he has already been fielding calls from concerned parents.

    "I know the school is preparing a security plan in the event this isn't resolved by Monday, so we'll definitely have increased presence if needed but we're hoping this will all be history by then," Formica said.

    Police ask anyone with information to call the East Lyme Police Department at 860-739-5900.



    Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com
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    A former Connecticut congressional candidate is seeking probation for her role in a scheme to set up a phony contract to hide the role ex-Gov. John G. Rowland played in her campaign.

    Lisa Wilson-Foley and her husband, Brian Foley, pleaded guilty to federal charges in March.

    Prosecutors say she, Foley and Rowland in 2011 conspired to hide Rowland's role in the campaign. Rowland was paid about $35,000 for the unsuccessful campaign.

    She and her husband face up to a year in prison.

    In a memo filed Monday, her lawyers said she should get probation based on her limited role in the conspiracy, her cooperation with prosecutors, and the relatively paltry amount of money involved.

    She's scheduled to be sentenced Jan. 13.

    Rowland faces up to three years for his part in the conspiracy.


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    New York Rep. Michael Grimm announced Monday he will resign from Congress, exactly one week after pleading guilty to a single count of tax fraud in Brooklyn federal court.

    Grimm's resignation will take effect Jan. 5, according to an email statement.

    "This decision is made with a heavy heart, as I have enjoyed a very special relationship and closeness with my constituents, whom I care about deeply," Grimm said.

    The news comes one month after the congressman, a Republican who represents Staten Island, was elected to a third term

    While the timing of the resignation remains unclear, Grimm said he felt he could no longer be "100 percent effective in the next Congress." 

    He appeared contrite after his court apearance last week, telling reporters: "If you do something wrong, you can never get fully past it until you accept responsibility for it. And that's what I'm doing, taking full responsibility so I can close this chapter in my life."

    But he remained adamant at the time that he would continue to serve.

    "As long as I'm able to serve, I'm going to serve," he said. "As of right now, I'm still in a capacity to serve and that's exactly what I plan on doing."

    In April, Grimm was named in a 20-count indictment that accused him of under-reporting the payroll and earnings of his Upper East Side restaurant, Healthalicious, which he ran from 2007 to 2010. He initially pleaded not guilty in federal court and was released on bond.

    Prosecutors alleged Grimm employed a number of immigrant workers who did not have legal status to work in the U.S., and paid them in cash -- wages that were not reported to the government. He also allegedly "substantially under-reported" the restaurant's gross receipts, lowering its taxes.

    Grimm said at the time he was being wrongly accused but asked House Speaker John Boehner to take him off the House Financial Services Committee until his federal case was resolved.

    He admitted last week the allegations were true.

    "I underreported the gross sales receipts of the restaurant to pay business expenses, including payroll for employees that were paid off the books," he said outside court.

    House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-California) had called on Boehner to demand Grimm to step down from office in light of the guilty plea. Other Democrats have echoed Pelosi's call.

    A felony conviction does not disqualify a person from serving in Congress, other than under the 14th Amendment or for certain treasonous acts.

    If Grimm had refused to resign, it would have taken a rare vote by his fellow lawmakers to expel him from the House. The last member to be expelled was James Traficant, D-Ohio, who was kicked out of Congress in 2002.

    Grimm, 44, made headlines in January after telling a NY1 reporter he wanted to throw the journalist off a balcony in the Capitol for asking about the campaign finance inquiry.

    An independent advisory office recommended that the House Ethics Committee investigate the balcony incident. The ethics panel deferred its investigation into Grimm while the Justice Department case was ongoing.

    If Grimm hadn't resigned, the panel was sure to address the case next year.

    He is scheduled to be sentenced June 8.


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    Four people were taken to the hospital after three cars collided on Interstate 95 southbound near exit 13 in Norwalk, according to the fire department.

    Deputy Fire Chief Edward Prescott said the cars rear ended one another just before 1:30 p.m.

    The victims were taken to Norwalk Hospital for treatment of non-life threatening injuries, according to Prescott.

    Traffic on the southbound side of I-95 was down to one lane for about 30 minutes while crews worked to clear the scene.



    Photo Credit: Norwalk Fire Department

    Four people were hospitalized after a three-car crash on Interstate 95 southbound in Norwalk.Four people were hospitalized after a three-car crash on Interstate 95 southbound in Norwalk.

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    What was first reported as a water main break at the intersection of New Britain Avenue and South Quaker Lane in West Hartford may be just a small leak, according to water company officials.

    A representative from the Metropolitan District Commission said one of the valves at the intersection may have sprung a leak but crews will need to clean out the box that houses the valve and may not know for sure until the morning.

    MDC does not expect any customers will lose water as a result.



    Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

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    A 44-year-old woman is facing charges after drinking and driving with her teenage daughter in the passenger seat, according to police, who said she also had marijuana in the car.

    Officers pulled over Cynthia L. Buell on Monday night in the Moosup section of Plainfield after she swerved across the double yellow line into oncoming traffic on Main Street near the intersection of Lake Street, police said.

    Buell told an officer she had been drinking, and police noticed an open bottle of beer in the center console of her Hyundai Accent, according to police. Buell's 15-year-old daughter was sitting next to her.

    Police also found Buell with a marijuana pipe in her front pocket and less than half an ounce of marijuana in a glass jar in the car, according to police.

    Buell was arrested and charged with failure to maintain a lane, driving under the influence, drinking alcohol while operating a motor vehicle, risk of injury to a minor, possession of less than half an ounce of marijuana and possession of drug paraphernalia.

    She was released on $5,000 bond and is due in court Jan. 12.



    Photo Credit: Plainfield Police Department

    Cynthia Buell, 44, is accused of drinking alcohol while driving with her 15-year-old daughter.Cynthia Buell, 44, is accused of drinking alcohol while driving with her 15-year-old daughter.

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    Route 190 was closed by Interstate 84 in Union following a deadly crash, according to emergency dispatchers.

    Dispatchers said a car rolled over Monday night near Kinney Hollow Road off exit 73 from I-84 eastbound, killing the driver. No other vehicles were involved and no one else was in the car.

    The driver was pronounced dead at the scene, according to dispatchers.

    LifeStar was called to the crash but canceled soon after. State police and fire officials were also called out.



    Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

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    A West Hartford investment firm will be ringting the closing bell at the New York Stock Exchange on Friday.

    YHB Advisors is celebrating 25 years as an investment advisory business.



    Photo Credit: Getty Images

    Stock photo of the New York Stock ExchangeStock photo of the New York Stock Exchange

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    After the bell tolls at midnight ringing in the New Year, the New Year could bring another kind of toll back to Connecticut.

    Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said he hasn't ruled out highway tolls for Connecticut as a means to pay for transportation improvements.

    "Tolls are a way of paying for it," Malloy said. "Do the people of Connecticut want to have a world class transportation system?"

    For many, the answer to that question is no if the money has to come out of their own wallets.

    "It's costly enough to be on the roads," Sean Gearhart, of West Hartford, said. "We have insurance. We have all kinds of bills."

    Tolls were eliminated from Connecticut in the early 1980s after a deadly accident, but they could be making a comeback.

    "So as a child I remember going through them," said Gina Carey, of Ridgefield, who did not describe the tolls that once lined Connecticut as a fond memory and has a daily commute from Ridgefield to Newington. "They were really a traffic issue. Safety was always an issue."

    The governor says the state under-invested in transportation for the last two generations and that's why tolls are on the table. Regardless, Malloy said the New Year has to bring a new focus to finding some sort of solution.


    Aerial toll booth genericAerial toll booth generic

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    LeBron James celebrates his 30th birthday by adding another record in the books.

    The Cleveland Cavaliers star has scored 23,901 points in his career, more than any other NBA player before the age of 30, according to NBA.com.

    The birthday feat puts an exclamation point on the statistical accomplishments spanning his career. 

    "It's not oh my God, it's the wow factor, you know, I've been in this thing for 12 years already, and I've done some pretty cool things in my career," James told Cleveland.com, when asked about his milestone birthday.

    The three-time Olympian was the number one NBA draft pick in the 2003 draft by the Cleveland Cavaliers. After becoming a free agent in 2010, James left the Cavaliers for the Miami Heat. He went onto win two NBA championships with the Heat before returning to the Cavaliers in 2014. 

    His numbers on the court don't lie. Compare his accolades between Cleveland and Miami.

    "King" James recently posed with British royalty — Prince William and Kate — after a Nets game. He made headlines at the same game in December by wearing an "I Can't Breathe" T-shirt in solidarity with demonstrators protesting a grand jury's decision not to indict a NYPD officer in the chokehold death of Eric Garner.

    In addition to being a basketball superstar, James is a husband and dad to two boys and a daughter. 

    James is spending his birthday playing basketball in Atlanta, where he'll take the court against the Hawks.

     



    Photo Credit: Getty Images
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    MIAMI, FL - DECEMBER 25:  LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers looks on during a game against the Miami Heat at American Airlines Arena on December 25, 2014 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)MIAMI, FL - DECEMBER 25: LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers looks on during a game against the Miami Heat at American Airlines Arena on December 25, 2014 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

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    Fifteen children have died from flu complications, prompting the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to formally declare the latest rise in the virus as an epidemic.

    Of all deaths reported in a survey of 122 cities this flu season, 6.8 percent were linked to pneumonia and influenza.

    Since the agency's last weekly report, the number of states that have reported escalating illnesses has also risen from 13 to 22.

    “The United States experiences epidemics of seasonal flu each year and right now, all of CDC’s influenza surveillance systems are showing elevated activity,” CDC spokeswoman Darlene M. Foote said in an email. These surveillance systems monitor the numbers of virus detections, hospitalizations, and deaths across the U.S.

    The report also specifically pointed to the H3N2 strain of the virus as the culprit in the latest outbreak.

    This year’s flu vaccine protects against three to four strains of flu, H3N2 being one of them. However, the strain of H3N2 causing many to get sick has mutated and only about half of cases match the vaccine, the CDC has said.

    “At this point, CDC is still recommending that unvaccinated people get their flu vaccines,” Foote wrote. “While some of the viruses spreading this season are different from what is in the vaccine, vaccination can still provide protection and might reduce severe outcomes such as hospitalization and death.”

    Although an average of 24,000 Americans die each flu season, the CDC prefers to use a range to convey how variable the flu can be. It estimates that from the 1976-1977 flu season to the 2006-2007 season, flu-related deaths in America ranged from a low of about 3,000 to a high of about 49,000 people.

    The latest report of illnesses, hospitalizations, and deaths follow a typical pattern for a flu season, the CDC said.
     



    Photo Credit: Getty Images

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    A cat trapped in a burning home on Route 6 in Columbia died in the blaze Tuesday afternoon, according to a fire chief at the scene.

    It took Columbia and Coventry firefighters about 45 minutes to get the fire under control after pumping water from a brook.

    Route 6 was closed between Whitney Road and Route 87 while crews worked to beat down the flames, which broke out just before 3 p.m. Tuesday

    No one was home at the time of the fire and no people were injured, but at least one cat didn't make it out alive. Half of the home suffered extensive damage.

    No further details were immediately available.



    Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

    Route 6 is closed in Columbia due a working structure fire.Route 6 is closed in Columbia due a working structure fire.

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  • 12/30/14--20:09: Morton Salt Dunes Bury Cars

  • Dunes of salt spilled from a Morton Salt warehouse in Chicago after a wall collapsed Tuesday, burying cars at the McGrath Acura dealership next door under the white crystals.

    No injuries were reported in the collapse at the salt company's North Side factory in the 1300 block of North Elston Avenue, fire officials said.

    The wall may have collapsed because the salt inside was piled too high, a preliminary inspection by the Department of Buildings found.

    "We are working with local authorities to review and respond to the situation," Morton Salt said in a statement.

    Representatives from Morton Salt were at the scene and working with a structural engineer to ensure the remaining structure is safe and supported, according to authorities.

    The last inspection at the facility was completed on March 5 and a refrigeration inspection was done on Nov. 2, 2012, officials said. The building also has an outstanding violation for failure to maintain its roof in "sound condition" and make repairs to the western portion of the roof, the department said.

    Noble Jones, the general manager at McGrath Acura, says about 11 cars were damaged by the collapse and buried in salt. Jones estimates between seven and eight vehicles belong to customers and four to five were to be sold by the dealership.

    Jones said a majority of the vehicles are "a total loss" because there was so much salt the suspension might be damaged.

    This year marked the 100th birthday of the Morton Salt girl, according to their website.



    Photo Credit: Chicago Fire Media
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    As people pop the champing corks and keep the drinks flowing on New Year's Eve, there is one place where no drinking will be allowed on one of the biggest partying nights of the year.

    Metro-North has banned open alcoholic beverages on all of its trains from noon on New Year's Eve to noon on New Year's Day. It's in effort to make holiday travel go smoothly and "orderly."

    Metropolitan Transit Authority police will be stationed at Grand Central Terminal, other Metro-North train stations and on trains themselves to ensure no one violates the ban.


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    Some say CL&P's fixed charge hike is already too high, but now there's a fear other utilities could soon follow.

    So Sen. Richard Blumenthal joined the state Consumer Counsel to call for a review of the increase Tuesday in Hartford. He also wants the chair of the federal energy regulatory commission to establish a clear national policy to ensure that electricity rates promote federal energy efficiency goals.

    "Conservation and energy efficiency are well-established objectives of federal energy policy. The unwillingness or inability of state regulatory agencies to effectively rein in these fixed-charge increases should prompt federal review," Blumenthal said.

    CL&P just raised its electric rates, stating it needs the money to pay for things like utility poles and power lines. Now CL&P customers will pay about $7 more per month for power.

    "Utilities, like many other service companies, have a combination of fixed and variable rates which are based on how much it costs the company to operate. We look forward to working with state leaders on this issue and remain committed to making our system more reliable and efficient for our customers," CL&P said in a statement.

    The state's Public Utility Regulatory Authority recently voted to approve the rate hike. CL&P said it needs the money to pay for things like power, poles and wires and to make improvements in response to storms.

    "We especially reject [Blumenthal's] assertion that we are unwilling and unable to impose fairness. Such hyperbole is unnecessary. To the contrary, we worked hard to apply the facts to the law through a fair, open and patient process," PURA said in response.

    CL&P and United Illuminating now have the first and second highest fixed charge in the region.

    Blumenthal said this trend takes control away from consumers and undermines efficiency.

    "Our customers have been very clear that reliability is a fundamental requirement and critical to their daily lives. So any impact on the system maintenance could affect reliability in a very direct manner," United Illuminating spokesman Michael A. West, Jr. said in a statement Tuesday. 



    Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

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    East Lyme has canceled another high school basketball game as federal authorities investigate an anonymous threat of violence against the town of East Lyme.

    The high school boys basketball game scheduled for Tuesday evening has been canceled.

    This comes after someone posted "East Lyme better get ready for the hail of bullets (sic) I've been bullied to (sic) long and after break I'm going to let all my anger out" on the social media site YikYak.

    Just a day ago, the district canceled the girls basketball game as local officials take precautions to keep residents safe.

    "In the world we live in, we take each and every one of these threats very seriously. We want to err on the side of caution," explained East Lyme First Selectman Paul Formica said Monday when the superintendent canceled the girls game.


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    Stamford police are seeking the public's assistance in identifying robbery suspects caught on surveillance cameras who assaulted a restaurant worker.

    Two men tried to rob a Subway restaurant on East Main Street Dec. 28 at 9:05 p.m., beating an employee, according to Stamford police. A third person stayed outside as a lookout, police said.

    Video surveillance police released on YouTube shows one of the robbers hop over a gate to get behind the counter, walking across the room and immediately knocking the person to the ground by striking the person working in the face.

    The individual then continually pummeled the employee in the head as the victim tried to get up. The victim was able to run across the room, but the robber pulled him and threw him back before making a getaway.

    After a quick sweep of the cash register area, both robbers fled from the sandwich store.

    Both suspects were dressed in dark clothing and had hoods on. The robber who attacked the employee was wearing pink gloves.

    Stamford police ask anyone with information to call the detective bureau at 203-977-4417. If you see the suspects, call police instead of approaching them. Anonymous tips can also be made by phone or through the Stamford Police Department CT Facebook page.



    Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

    Stamford PoliceStamford Police

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    Senator Richard Blumenthal, along with FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel, spoke in Hartford Monday to voice concerns about mobile cramming, a tactic where third-party vendors nickel and dime consumers’ cell phone bills without their consent or knowledge.

    “Over time, these charges add up,” said Rosenworcel. “What this is is modern-day pick-pocketing, and it’s fraud. Pure and simple.”

    You don’t necessarily have to do anything to fall victim to cramming, but sometimes, they lure you in by sending you a horoscope or trivia. Just by opening the text, you’ve given them access to your account.

    Then, on your cell phone bill, the crammer’s tab will often fall under “usage charges,” a detail vague enough to overlook, at a price that might not raise any red flags.

    And according to Blumenthal, your carrier didn’t raise any red flags, either.

    “These companies had to have known that a lot of these charges were false and fraudulent,” said Blumenthal.

    But what’s in it for them?

    “The telephone companies receive 30-40 cents of every dollar paid on these fraudulent, phony fees,” said Blumenthal.

    The good news is consumers can apply for a refund through their carrier for fraudulent charges dating as far back as 2010.

    But whether cramming has affected you or not, the FCC encourages consumers ask their carriers to block third-party charges from their bill. And, as always, be on the lookout.

    “If they find something on their statement that doesn’t look right, they should complain,” said Rosenworcel.

    Blumenthal adds, “Refunds are due to thousands of consumers in Connecticut, but they have to make the claim. Please, get that accounting and make the claim, because you deserve it.”

    AT&T and T-Mobile are the only two carriers offering refunds right now, and consumers have to make the claim directly through them. Sprint is currently under investigation for allowing the same practices.

    NBC Connecticut reached out to T-Mobile for comment, but they didn’t get back to us.



    Photo Credit: Getty Images

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