Articles on this Page
- 01/15/15--20:18: _West Haven Homes Bu...
- 01/15/15--14:05: _Thief Who Targeted ...
- 01/15/15--15:09: _Police Respond to R...
- 01/15/15--14:38: _Electric Boat Hirin...
- 01/15/15--18:47: _Vernon Man Sexually...
- 01/15/15--14:49: _AG: Woman Claimed F...
- 01/15/15--15:36: _Employers to Appeal...
- 01/15/15--15:45: _Top Cop Sorry for T...
- 01/15/15--15:47: _Segarra Challenger ...
- 01/15/15--12:19: _State Police Arrest...
- 01/15/15--16:35: _Katy Perry Creates ...
- 01/15/15--13:27: _New Milford Police ...
- 01/15/15--16:41: _Convicted Sex Offen...
- 01/15/15--17:15: _Quakes Prompt Quest...
- 01/15/15--17:57: _Waterbury Hospital ...
- 01/15/15--18:37: _North Haven Residen...
- 01/15/15--23:50: _Exec's Body Found N...
- 01/15/15--19:41: _Officer Who Shot WW...
- 01/16/15--07:00: _Police Use Mug Shot...
- 01/15/15--20:25: _Contractor in Navy ...
- 01/15/15--20:18: West Haven Homes Burglarized in Broad Daylight
- 01/15/15--14:05: Thief Who Targeted Autistic Man to Serve Prison Time
- 01/15/15--15:09: Police Respond to Report That Car Hit House in Manchester
- 01/15/15--14:38: Electric Boat Hiring 400 in 2015
- 01/15/15--18:47: Vernon Man Sexually Assaulted Female Acquaintance: Cops
- 01/15/15--14:49: AG: Woman Claimed Fake Marathon Bombings Injury
- 01/15/15--15:36: Employers to Appeal Affordable Care Act Fine
- 01/15/15--15:45: Top Cop Sorry for Threatening Dog
- 01/15/15--15:47: Segarra Challenger Says Hartford Needs New Leadership
- 01/15/15--12:19: State Police Arrest Sexual Assault Suspect
- 01/15/15--16:35: Katy Perry Creates Video for Niantic Girl Battling Cancer
- 01/15/15--13:27: New Milford Police Chief Involved in Litchfield Crash
- 01/15/15--16:41: Convicted Sex Offender Facing New Charges
- 01/15/15--17:15: Quakes Prompt Questions About Insurance, Property Values
- 01/15/15--17:57: Waterbury Hospital to Cut 80 Full-Time Staffers
- Eliminating open positions, cutting some full- and part-time positions and curbing hours of employees who stay. About 100 workers from both clinical and non-clinical departments will be affected.
- Eliminating and/or postponing initiatives not directly related to patient care.
- Closing or consolidating physician practices and community services such as blood draw stations.
- Considering outsourcing work and pursuing “collaborative opportunities.”
- 01/15/15--18:37: North Haven Residents Clash Over Fate of Mascot
- 01/15/15--23:50: Exec's Body Found Near SoCal Hotel
- 01/15/15--19:41: Officer Who Shot WWII Vet "Afraid"
- 01/16/15--07:00: Police Use Mug Shots as Targets
- 01/15/15--20:25: Contractor in Navy Bribery Guilty
West Haven police are warning residents living in the area of Kelsey Avenue and Bassett Street to be on the lookout for suspicious activity after a burglar forced his way into two homes during the day Wednesday.
Police said the suspect broke through the front doors and stole items from the homes. According to police, the culprit may have been driving an older-model gray four-door vehicle.
West Haven Mayor Ed O'Brien called the daytime burglaries "absolutely not typical," especially for the part of the city in which they occurred.
"It's pretty unusual," he said, describing the neighborhood as "normally a nice, very low-crime area of the city."
O'Brien said police are stepping up patrols in the area and are urging residents to take every precaution and be on the lookout for unusual activity.
Anyone who notices suspicious activity or has information on the burglaries is urged to call West Haven police at 203-937-3900.
The Stamford resident convicted of stealing $100 in birthday money from an autistic man in September has been sentenced to three years in prison followed by three years of probation, court officials said.
Steven St. Jacques pleaded guilty to second-degree larceny and second-degree robbery in court after tricking a 27-year-old autistic man into handing over his birthday money near Veterans Park in Stamford.
Police released surveillance footage that showed a man later identified as St. Jacques running from the scene after pocketing the cash.
Investigators searched his home and found an article of clothing that matched what the suspect was wearing in the video.
Police said it wasn't the first arrest for St. Jacques, who had been previously charged with assault and robbery.
As Stamford police investigated, police officers, members of the local police union and community members banded together to collect money for the victim and presented him with $1,300.
Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com and Stamford Police
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Steven St. Jacques is accused of stealing birthday money from an autistic man.
Police are responding to a report that a car veered off the roadway on Lenox Street in Manchester and struck a house Thursday evening, according to dispatchers.
Initial reports indicate the car rolled down a hill and into a porch, according to police.
Neighbors said a car parked in a driveway on East Middle Turnpike rolled into a yard behind it and struck the porch about 100 feet back.
Police have not released any information on injuries, but neighbors said no one appears to have been hurt.
Check back for updates on this developing story.
Photo Credit: Christopher Opito
Groton-based manufacturer Electric Boat plans to hire 400 new employees in 2015, according to company spokesman Dan Barrett.
It's part of a $31.5 million expansion effort as the company prepares to move into the old Pfizer facility on Kings Highway. The manufacturer received a $10 million economic development loan from the state of Connecticut in October.
Barrett said Electric Boat, a subset of General Dynamics, will also bring on about 600 workers at its Quonset Point location in Rhode Island.
Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com
Police have arrested a 25-year-old man accused of sexually assaulting a female acquaintance Thursday morning at a home on High Street in Vernon.
Police said Eric Allen, 25, of Vernon, "forcibly sexually assaulted" the woman around 10:20 a.m. The woman was taken to Rockville General Hospital for treatment of non-life threatening injuries sustained during the alleged attack.
Authorities have not elaborated on the relationship between Allen and the victim but said they have charged Allen under domestic violence laws.
Allen was arrested at his home on Village Street and charged with first-degree sexual assault, third-degree sexual assault, second-degree strangulation, interfering with a 911 call, unlawful restraint and breach of peace.
Police also served an outstanding warrant charging Allen with second-degree failure to appear.
Allen was held on a total of $225,000 bond and is due in court Friday.
Photo Credit: Vernon Police Department
Eric Allen, 25, of Vernon, is accused of sexually assaulting a female acquaintance.
A 49-year-old Portland, Maine, woman will appear in court Friday after being arrested for allegedly defrauding One Fund Boston.
Investigators say Amey Molloy claimed she was injured in the Boston Marathon bombings on April 15, 2013. Molloy submitted medical records and was paid $8,000 by the fund. When she came back with a second fund request, red flags went up and that launched an investigation.
In court documents, Maine detectives say Molloy did have surgery for a foot injury but it didn't happen at the bombing. The documents also point to cell phone records that show Molloy's phone pinged off of a cell tower in Yarmouth, Maine on the day of the bombings.
On Wednesday, Maine and Massachusetts police showed up at her doorstep in Portland. After Molloy was arrested, detectives searched her house and confiscated electronics, medical records and bank records.
A woman who identified herself as Molloy's sister answered the door today and said, "I don't know anything but she's doing okay, that's all I can say."
Molloy is expected to appear at a hearing in Maine on Friday but will then head to Massachusetts where she will face larceny charges.
Photo Credit: Cumberland County Sheriff's Office
Access Health CT has approved a first-of-its-kind appeals process for businesses that claim to have been falsely penalized under the Affordable Care Act.
The penalties would stem from allegedly not offering what's known as "minimal essential coverage," an employer-sponsored health plan indended to be affordable for employees.
"We've heard from businesses about this," said Jennifer Herz, assistant counsel with the Connecticut Business and Industry Association. "We've gotten calls about it."
If employees turn down the coverage offered by their employers, purchase coverage on the state's exchange, receive tax credits and then say they couldn't get employee-sponsored health care, their employers could receive letters warning that the companies could be penalized.
The issue, according to Access Health CT, is that there hasn't been any kind of appeal process or system built into the ACA or at the state level. That changed Thursday.
“It’s really important that that employer has some kind of recourse to say, 'Yes, I do provide affordable coverage,' and by then they can avoid the tax penalty, because as of yet, there isn’t a whole lot of ability for the employer to avoid a potential tax penalty," explained Chad Brooker, who handles policy and strategy for Access Health.
It's not clear how many businesses in Connecticut have been fined in the past, but it is possible that that may have paid a penalty simply because there wasn't a way to fight it.
In the future, businesses can provide documentation to show that they do, in fact, provide some kind of option to their employees.
As for employees who qualify for tax credits who otherwise wouldn't if they accepted the employer sponsored coverage, Brooker said the IRS should take the lead.
“Then what the IRS should do is that they should look to the employee who said that they didn’t have access on that coverage and then see whether they got tax credits or not," he said. "If they got tax credits, then it’s the IRS' responsibility to actually work with the employee to pay back some or all of what those tax credits.”
Herz with the CBIA said the appeals process, which is in its infancy, is a welcomed step.
“I have heard from employers in Connecticut that get these letters and they’re very confused and they’re not sure why they’ve gotten them, because they have been providing good quality health insurance to their employees," she said, "so I hope this will help some of that confusion and figure out a way to move forward.”
A suburban Chicago police chief has apologized for making a comment about shooting and killing the department's police dog, Biko.
Harold Kaufman, the Midlothian police chief, was recorded talking to an Oak Forest police dispatcher and saying, "Our K-9 officer just came in and quit on me, so now I'm going to be stuck with either going and shooting the dog and killing it or finding somewhere to put it."
Kaufman said that because Biko is an active police dog, he must be placed with a proper handler and cannot simply be taken in as a pet.
After the recording went public, Kaufman apologized at the Midlothian village board meeting Wednesday night. Kaufman's apology was recorded by a Midlothian resident, who posted the video to YouTube. Midlothian Clerk Michael Kohlstedt confirmed that the video shows Wednesday's meeting.
"My statement about shooting Biko was admittedly inappropriate and unprofessional," Kaufman said at the meeting. "I assure you that at no time did I actually intend to shoot Biko or harm him in any way."
Kaufman said that he would not make an excuse for his statement about Biko, who is a Belgian Malinois, according to the Orland Park Patch.
"As the head of the police depratment I recognize that I need to accept responsibility for my actions and move forward accordingly," Kaufman said.
Jon Ryczek, the K-9 officer who left his job with the department, said he did not believe Kaufman's apology was sincere.
"It was forced, he didn't even stand up, look anyone in the eye and address them," Ryczek said in an email. "... It's a shame for the residents who have to deal with that."
Biko has since been placed with a new handler in the Midlothian police department who is training with the dog, Kaufman said.
Photo Credit: Jon Ryczek
Biko and his former handler Jon Ryczek.
For a Yale Law School graduate, Rhodes Scholar and former adviser to Connecticut's governor, Luke Bronin certainly looked the part as he stood in front of Hartford City Hall to address his candidacy for Hartford mayor.
Dressed in a red-and-blue spotted tie and a light blue suit, Bronin laid out part of his vision for Hartford in an interview Thursday afternoon.
“We need a city hall that works better," Bronin said with a firm but quiet tone. "We need city government that’s more responsive, that’s held accountable and that’s a little more focused on getting things done.”
Bronin is the first official challenger to Hartford Mayor Pedro Segarra, who announced last week that he would seek a re-election.
Just last month, Bronin ended his tenure with Gov. Dannel Malloy's administration, where he served as chief legal adviser, opting to become a partner in a Hartford law firm instead.
Bronin said he wouldn't be a micro-manager in any sense, but added that he thinks Hartford needs a mayor who will be very hands-on in making sure things get done properly.
"I would have every intention of assembling a team that’s trustworthy, that works hard every single day, and I would hold their feet to the fire," he said. "And if things aren’t moving fast enough, they will be held accountable.”
Bronin used the development of a $60-million minor league baseball stadium as an example of a project that hasn't gone as smoothly as it should have.
"I would have handled the project differently. It's going better now, and that credit goes to Shawn Wooden and the city council," he said. "Hartford has to make sure it's getting what it's supposed to get."
“We need to make sure that we don’t end up with another situation like we had at Adriaen’s Landing, where there was a convention center built, with so much other land that remained vacant for so many years,” Bronin added.
The candidate also has plans to improve education. He said that while some schools like magnet and charter facilities have being doing better than in the past, a "two-tiered system" remains in place and the city has to focus on investing in neighborhood schools.
Hartford's voting population consists of predominantly minorities, and Bronin, who is white, said he has faith in Hartford voters and believes they're in favor of fresh and innovative ideas, not just someone who looks like them.
“I think one of the beautiful things about this city is that it is a culturally diverse, ethnically diverse city, and I think the people of Hartford are going to vote for the next mayor of this city who can fulfill the promise this city holds,” Bronin said.
Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com
State police have arrested a 41-year-old Scotland man accused of sexual assault.
Police said they received a complaint from the state Department of Children and Families around 3 p.m. on Tuesday.
They reported a possible sexual assault involving Dave Trudeau, 41, of Scotland and a juvenile after the victim spoke to a teacher about inappropriate sexual contact over an extended period of time, police said.
On Wednesday, police arrested Trudeau and brought him to Troop D in Danielson, where he was formally charged with second-degree sexual assault, risk of injury and disorderly conduct.
He was held on a $500,000 bond and is due in court on Thursday.
Police said the investigation is ongoing.
Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com
Eight year-old Madeline Guarraia is fighting a grueling second battle with leukemia and she is getting some attention from a pop star with a hit song that embodies Madeline’s positivity and strength.
Posts on the Facebook page “Mad About Madeline” provide updates on the ordeal the Niantic girl is going through and one post on Jan. 9 included an inspiring message from Katy Perry, which appropriately references her extremely popular song, “Roar.”
“I just want to tell you that I love you, and that I’m here for you and that I did write “Roar” for you,” Katy said in the video. “So I just want to send you all of my love and my strength and I know you are such a strong young girl.”
Images of tigers are everywhere around Madeline. Photos taken of her room show her surrounded by stuffed animals and photos of tigers for strength. She also started writing an autobiography, called “Fight like a Tiger Again,” which is a sequel to the book she wrote about her first battle.
This motto carries over to fundraisers for Madeline.
For instance, bracelets being sold to benefit Guarraia’s family say “Mad About Madeline” on one side and “Roar, Little Tiger,” on the other. You can order them online through Etsy.
This is just one of several fundraisers for Madeline and her family.
Zen and Now is holding a cycling fundraiser on Sunday.
Magic for Madeline will be held at Quaker Hill Elementary School at 1:30 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 8.
Photo Credit: Getty Images
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The chief of police in New Milford was involved in a three-car crash on Bantam Road in Litchfield on Wednesday afternoon, according to New Milford police.
According to the accident report, Chief Shawn Boyne was driving his department-issued Ford Explorer eastbound on Bantam Road/Route 202 around 2:30 p.m. Wednesday when he was struck by an oncoming car that crossed the double yellow line and weaved into his lane.
Police said the offending vehicle, driven by Gonzalo Valverde, of Morris, also struck a funeral home vehicle driving eastbound, causing it to veer off the roadway and 20 into the woods.
The force of impact was such that Boyne's Explorer tipped over onto the driver's side, spun around and ended up going off the westbound shoulder, according to state police.
All three cars were towed from the scene. Valverde was taken to Charlotte Hungerford Hospital in Torrington and was later arrested in connection with the crash.
Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com
A convicted sex offender living in North Haven has been arrested on new charges after allegedly trying to hide a social media account from authorities.
Bryan Morrell, 27, of Kings Highway in North Haven, was arrested in 2001 and convicted of first-degree sexual assault.
Police said that last month, investigators uncovered a social media account that Morrell "was attempting to conceal."
Morrell was arrested and will answer to the new charges in court Jan. 22.
Adding earthquake insurance to his homeowner’s policy is something Plainfield resident Edwin Comeau never though he'd have to do, but as of Thursday, 12 quakes have rumbled through the region in the past week.
When the ground under his home started to shake, Edwin was one of many who reached out to insurance company Leo E. Tetrault & Son, Inc.
“I don’t want to lose my house,” he explained.
Insurance agent David Tetrault said expanding your policy is an inexpensive way to provide priceless peace of mind.
“Everyone is getting scared and we have been getting numerous calls,” said Tetrault.
Based on a home value of $300,000, Tetrault says earthquake insurance will only cost an average of $100-150 dollars a year.
While many callers are most concerned with the cost, Tetrault says others are just seeking basic information. The Connecticut Insurance Department answers some basic questions in a need-to-know list compiled on the department website.
Comeau was able to pick up the coverage in time for the latest earthquake. He said he is grateful because he has no intention of making his home elsewhere.
Residents who had plans to sell their homes before the seismic activity started can rest assured, according to Dan Kildea, broker at Sellstate Leading Edge Realty.
Kildea said those people should still have confidence in their ability to sell because recent seismic activity isn't enough to shake the market.
“I don’t think it’s a big problem for home sellers or buyers or a deterrent,” said Kildea.
If anything, Kildea is advising extra eyes during home inspections. He recommends looking for cracks in the foundation and directs homeowners to pay attention to changes in well water, like excess dirt.
Though it has become almost a daily occurrence, he still believes it is too early to know what the movement might mean going forward.
Photo Credit: Weston Observatory
As part of a multifaceted plan to cut costs amid a changing landscape, Waterbury Hospital will eliminate 80 full-time staffers, according to a spokesperson for the hospital.
Waterbury Hospital interim communications director Patricia Charvat said in a news release Thursday that the cuts are one element of a “four-part plan to stabilize [the hospital’s] financial condition and strengthen the organization for the future.”
The release cites “enormous challenges from state and federal reimbursement cutbacks” affecting hospitals around the country, along with the implications of health care reform, and changing marketplace and a shift toward outpatient treatment.
Charvat also said the hospital is under tremendous financial pressure, as its reimbursement during the 2015 fiscal year will fall $9.77 million short of last year’s number.
“Given the fiscal pressures facing our hospital, we have had to make very tough and painful choices. Make no mistake, these are very difficult decisions,” Waterbury Hospital President and CEO Darlene Stromstad said in a statement Thursday. “However, we must begin the process of triaging our limited resources to ensure that our patients have the best care possible and to ensure our hospital will be around for another 126 years.”
The hospital’s four-part cost reduction plan includes the following:
Although a deal is in the works to bring in Tenet Healthcare, which would take over operations of five Connecticut hospitals including Waterbury, Stromstad conveyed a sense or urgency.
“While we are encouraged by Governor Malloy reaching out to Tenet Healthcare for further discussions about re-engaging in the transaction with the Waterbury hospitals, we are taking action today to sustain this hospital’s long-term viability—however painful this may be,” Stromstad said in a statement. “We remain resolute in fulfilling our mission of caring for our patients and community, both today and for the future.”
Controversy is brewing in North Haven as residents clash over whether to change the town mascot.
Opponents of the mascot – the Indians – call it derogatory. A change.org petition imploring the board of education to take action says it’s time to “take a stand and change the old and disrespectful ways people think about race.”
“There has been national conversation over the use of Native Americans on team names and mascots; most famously being the Washington Redskins,” the petition says. “Many Native Americans groups have spoken out saying that it is offensive and disrespectful to appropriate their culture in this way.”
Residents standing behind the Indians have responded in kind by launching a second petition called “Keep the Indian Mascot,” which had collected more than 1,500 signatures as of Thursday evening.
A Facebook page has also been launched in defense of the mascot.
“Where did our Indian mascot come from? It was to honor the Indians of North Haven. The indian symbol in our mascot is the look of chief Montowese who we lived with here in North Haven,” the page posted. “Our Mascot is to honor the memory of the North Haven Indian tribes, not to poke fun or to discriminate. The American settlers of North Haven lived with the Indians, we worked together. These people who want to change the mascot do not even know why we have it to begin with.”
It’s not clear where the school system stands on the issue, but the North Haven Football team posed the question to the community on Twitter.
“Hearing a lot of chatter about changing the North Haven mascot. What do you think?” the team tweeted on Monday, Jan. 13. “Favorite to change the name, Retweet to keep Indians.”
As of Thursday night, the post had garnered 140 retweets in favor of the mascot and just 10 favorites in opposition.
The North Haven school system did not return a request for comment Thursday.
Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com
Omar Arce Meza disappeared Jan. 8 after walking out of the JW Marriott Desert Springs Resort about 11 p.m. while in Palm Desert for a business trip.
A vice president with AIG Financial Distributors, Meza missed scheduled business meetings the following day.
The Riverside County Sheriff's Department said about 4:30 p.m. Thursday the body was found in the 74800 block of Country Club — the same block as the JW Marriott. Authorities have not identified the body or released a cause of death.
Meza's family released a statement Thursday evening on Facebook about his death.
"We are with heavy hearts tonight as we announce the passing of Omar Meza. He was a very loved son, husband, brother & friend. We would like to take this time to grieve his passing and ask that everyone please respect our privacy at this time.
"We would like to thank all of the supporters this past week. It brings tears to our eyes to see how well loved Omar was, he will be missed by many," the statement read.
The statement also said the family canceled a news conference that had been scheduled for Friday.
Diane Meza, the vanished man's wife, told NBC4 earlier this week that one of his co-workers put him in an Uber car.
"The intention was to send him to his hotel. I think there was probably some confusion on which Marriott to go to," she said.
Diane Meza called her husband "absolutely the best thing that ever happened to me. He made everything better."
He was scheduled to stay at the Courtyard by Marriott, but security cameras captured him walking out of the JW Marriott Desert Springs Resort instead. His jacket and wallet were found on the resort's golf course.
Divers searched golf course ponds Monday after bloodhounds pointed in the direction of water traps on the golf course, but searchers found nothing. Authorities said they had concluded the search of the premises on Wednesday.
When asked by NBC4 Thursday night how they missed a body during their search of the grounds, authorities said they did not have an answer.
A representative with AIG declined an interview with NBC4 but said the company is working with authorities and their thoughts are with family and friends.
Photo Credit: Diane Meza
Omar Meza, pictured here with his wife Diane Meza, was last seen at a Palm Desert hotel on the night of Jan. 8, 2015. An unidentified body was found near the same hotel on Thursday, Jan. 15, 2015.
Park Forest Police Officer Craig Taylor, charged with reckless conduct in the shooting of a 95-year-old World War II vet, testified Thursday that he had no idea how old the man was when a police call sent him to the Victory Center Assisted Living facility.
Taylor was called to the scene after John Wrana became combative with emergency medical technicians trying to take him to the hospital for medical treatment, according to prosecutors.
Taylor testified that he was to be the second man in a so-called "stack" procedure, a backup for his commander, whose Taser misfired while he was trying to subdue Wrana, who allegedly refused to cooperate with police and pointed a kitchen knife at the officers.
"When I saw Mr. Wrana with that knife in his hand," Taylor said, "threatening to kill me and my fellow officers, I was afraid. I thought I had to do something."
He fired his less-lethal beanbag weapon five times, striking Wrana four times. Wrana later died from internal abdominal bleeding, officials said.
On Wednesday, an expert witnesses on police tactics testified Taylor's actions were unreasonable and unnecessary, arguing there was no imminent threat.
Before Taylor took the stand, Wrana’s family came forward to express their disappointment with the way defense attorneys have portrayed him in court.
“We are greatly saddened by the false statements disparaging our grandfather under the cloak of providing the best defense,” said Wrana’s grandson Tom Magnerson.
In particular, the family says they’re angry with Attorney Terry Ekl for saying that Wrana, after he was injured, told doctors he wanted to die.
“We have family members who are objecting to what they say happened when they don't have the facts,” Ekl said.
Among the defense witnesses was Dr. Steven Salzman, the trauma surgeon who tried to treat Wrana.
He told the judge that there was no question he could have fixed the injuries from the beanbag gun, but repeatedly, his patient, who had a do not resuscitate order, told him to let him die.
“He did not want to die in the way that Park Forest police chose for him, but he did want to live with the dignity head for 95 years,” said Magnerson.
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A South Florida family is outraged at North Miami Beach Police after mug shots of African American men were used at a shooting range for police training.
It was an ordinary Saturday morning last month when Sgt. Valerie Deant arrived at the shooting range in Medley, or so she thought.
Deant, who plays clarinet with the Florida Army National Guard’s 13th Army Band, and her fellow soldiers were at the shooting range for their annual weapons qualifications training.
What the soldiers discovered when they entered the range made them angry: mug shots of African American men apparently used as targets by North Miami Beach Police snipers, who had used the range before the guardsmen.
Even more startling for Deant, one of the images was her brother. It was Woody Deant’s mug shot that taken 15 years ago, after he was arrested in connection to a drag race in 2000 that left two people dead. His mug shot was among the pictures of five minorities used as targets by North Miami Beach police, all of them riddled by bullets.
“I was like 'why is my brother being used for target practice?'" Deant asked.
Deant’s fellow guardsmen were angry too, but they tried to console Deant, who was devastated.
“There were like gunshots there,” Deant said. “And I cried a couple of times.”
She immediately called her brother, Woody Deant, who was 18 years old when the picture was taken.
“The picture actually has like bullet holes,” Woody Deant said. “One in my forehead and one in my eye. …I was speechless," he added.
The City of Medley owns the Medley Firearms Training Center and it leases the facilities to law enforcement agencies in the area. The shooting range staff doesn’t select the targets used by law enforcement and the military.
North Miami Beach Police Chief J. Scott Dennis admitted that his officers could have used better judgment, but denies any racial profiling.
He noted that the sniper team includes minority officers. Dennis defended the department’s use of actual photographs and says the technique is widely used and the pictures are vital for facial recognition drills. But the Deant family questions why officers were firing targets with images of real people, in this case African-Americans, especially at a time when relations between minority communities and law enforcement are so tense.
“Our policies were not violated,” Dennis said. “There is no discipline forthcoming from the individuals who were involved with this.”
NBC 6 Investigators spoke with sources at federal and state law enforcement agencies and five local police departments that have SWAT and sniper teams in an attempt to find out if this is a common practice. All law enforcement agencies said they only use commercially produced targets, not photos of human beings for target practice.
“The use of those targets doesn’t seem correct,” Alex Vasquez, a retired FBI agent, said. “The police have different options for targets. I think the police have to be extra careful and sensitive to some issues that might be raised.”
Dennis said the police department uses an array of pictures including that of whites, and Hispanic males. What concerns his police department, he said, is that the picture was from someone that happened to be arrested by his agency.
“That individual would be someone that was on the streets of North Miami Beach,” Dennis said.
The police chief said his department will resume use of human image targets after it expands the number of images in its inventory. His officers, Dennis said, will not use any booking photos from suspects they have arrested and he’ll direct his officers to remove the targets after they use the shooting range.
But Woody Deant, who did four years in prison after his 2000 arrest, expressed outrage.
“Now I’m being used as a target?” said Woody Deant. “I’m not even living that life according to how they portrayed me as. I’m a father. I’m a husband. I’m a career man. I work 9-to-5.”
The Deants contacted Attorney Andell Brown. He said he finds the use of human images for target practice extremely disturbing.
“This can create a very dangerous situation,” Brown said. “And it has been ingrained in your subconscious what does that mean when someone [police] comes across Woody or another person on the street and their decision-making process on using deadly force or not.”
The Deants agree.
“Automatically in his [police officer] mind he’s going to think target, target, target…,” Woody Deant said.
A South Florida family is outraged at North Miami Beach Police after mug shots were being used at a shooting range for police training.
A foreign defense contractor known as “Fat Leonard” pleaded guilty Thursday in an international Navy bribery scheme, admitting he gave military officials prostitutes, luxury travel and cash so he could overbill the government by more than $20 million.
Leonard Glenn Francis, 51, the CEO of the Glenn Defense Marine Asia (GDMA) in Singapore, admitted to bribery, conspiracy to commit bribery and defrauding the U.S. government in the scandal that ensnared eight people, including Navy officers, a senior NCIS investigator and Francis’ own cousin.
At his April 3 sentencing, the defendant faces a maximum of 25 years in prison and could be forced to forfeit $35 million.
Francis changed his plea in San Diego’s U.S. District Court Thursday after a wave of defendants admitted their guilt in the scheme. According to his plea agreement, between 2004 and 2013, Francis lavished influential Navy officials with gifts to garner contracts for GDMA, which has serviced warships in Pacific ports for over 25 years.
In exchange for about $500,000 in cash, high-end hotel stays, prostitutes and extravagant gifts, Navy officers would provide Francis with confidential ship schedules for the Navy's 7th Fleet and information on competitors' pricing, performance and bids.
Using the classified information, the plea deal says Francis would convince his co-conspirators to steer ships — especially lucrative aircraft carriers — away from low revenue ports like Singapore and toward "fat revenue" ports like Phuket in Thailand.
The plea deal says Francis and co-conspirators created sham companies to pass off as bona fide port authorities to the Navy. They then inflated the costs of services and goods like fuel, tugboats and sewage disposal. In all, GDMA overbilled the Navy by more than $20 million.
Six others have pleaded guilty to various bribery and conspiracy charges. Also on Thursday, Navy Capt. Daniel Dusek admitted to one count of conspiracy of bribery after he was relieved of command on USS Bonhomme Richard.
Earlier this month, U.S. Navy Cmdr. Jose Luis Sanchez accepted a plea deal, in which he said he accepted $100,000 cash, entertainment, travel and prostitutes from Francis for proprietary Navy information.
Retired Navy Lt. Cmdr. Edmond A. Aruffo admitted to his role in the scandal in July 2014. He said he worked for GDMA and used letterhead from several Japanese vendors to send the Navy inflated invoices. When the U.S. paid those invoices, vendors would send GDMA.
Navy Petty Officer First Class Dan Layug pleaded guilty, saying he accepted a “bucket list” of electronic gadgets, as well as $10,000 in cash, from Francis and provided the defense contractor with classified information.
Alex Wisidagama, a GDMA company manager and Francis’ cousin, admitted in court to conspiracy to defraud the U.S. government.
The first to plead guilty in the investigation, senior Navy criminal investigator John Beliveau II said he used his law enforcement training to help Francis avoid detection. Francis paid him with envelopes of cash and travel to Virginia, Singapore, Thailand and the Philippines.
Another Navy commander, Michael Vannak Khem Misiewicz, has pleaded not guilty to his alleged involvement.
Read more details about what Francis pleaded guilty to by clicking here.
Photo Credit: Greg High