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    Police responded to a water main break on Woodland Road in Rocky Hill on Friday morning.

    The break is near Dividend Road.

    No additional information was available.



    Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

    Police responded to a water main break on Woodland Road in Rocky Hill on Friday morning.Police responded to a water main break on Woodland Road in Rocky Hill on Friday morning.

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    It’s been so cold in New England that even the ocean waves are freezing.

    A Nantucket-based photographer and surfer captured images of waves with the consistency of a 7-Eleven Slurpee hitting the coast of Nantucket, in Massachusetts, on Friday, Feb. 20.

    “The wind was howling from the southwest which would typically make rough or choppy conditions not so good for surfing, but since the surface of the sea was frozen slush the wind did not change the shape,” Jonathan Nimerfroh said in an email to New England Cable News. “What resulted was perfect, dreamy, slush waves.”

    The temperature was a high of 19 degrees that day, according to Nimerfroh, and the waves were around 2 feet high.

    When Nimerfroh went back the beach on Saturday to take more photos of slurpee waves, it was even colder. The water had a thin sheet of ice over it and there were no waves at all.

    Normally, water freezes at 32 degrees Fahrenheit, so it’s not unusual for the harbor to freeze.

    New England has experienced outsized snowfall and cold this winter. Boston has received 102 inches of snow, just 5.6 inches shy of the snowiest winter on record, according to the National Weather Service.

    Another storm is expected to hit this weekend, dumping 6 inches in some areas. It won't take much to shatter the record.
     



    Photo Credit: Jonathan Nimerfroh, www.jdnphotography.com

    Slurpee waves hitting the coast of Nantucket, in Massachusetts, Feb. 20, 2015.Slurpee waves hitting the coast of Nantucket, in Massachusetts, Feb. 20, 2015.

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    Some land their dream job just weeks after graduation, but for Barbara Beskind, 91, it took several decades.

    Beskind finally fulfilled her longtime dream of becoming a tech designer when she was hired at a top design firm in Silicon Valley two years ago.

    "As a 10-year-old I wanted to be an inventor,'' Beskind told NBC's "Today show. "I've arrived. But it took me about 80 years."

    She had a knack for design at an early age, making a hobby horse out of old tires during the Great Depression when she was just ten years old.

    But she was discouraged to pursue a career in design by her high school guidance counselor who told her engineering schools don't accept females. So she decided to join the U.S. Army, where she served as an occupational therapist, while also writing books and learning to paint," she told "Today."

    Two years ago she read about IDEO, known for designing the first mouse for Apple and other devices, and decided to apply for a vacant position. 

    "Our culture is telling us, aging equals decline,'' IDEO associate partner Gretchen Addi told "Today". "And Barbara is very solidly standing there and saying, you know, 'I'm gonna call you on that.'''

    Beskind focuses on projects related to aging. She has designed what she has dubbed a "trekker,'' a modified version of a walker, which is being developed into a prototype by IDEO.

    She said coming to work every Thursday makes her "feel 30 years younger."

    "Age is not a barrier to performance," she told "Today."  "Live life as an adventure, and expect change and endorse it, embrace it."


    Barbara Beskind, 91, was an inventor at Silicon Valley design firm IDEO.Barbara Beskind, 91, was an inventor at Silicon Valley design firm IDEO.

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    A man accused of dragging a New Canaan police officer who was trying to help him on Thursday night has been released from the hospital and will be arraigned in Norwalk Superior Court.

    Police said the officer responded to Old Stamford Road in New Canaan around 6:10 p.m., where a man was driving with his headlights off and threatening suicide.

    Authorities stopped the car and approached to talk to the driver, who was later identified as 24-year-old Erik Kuranko, but Kuranko would not roll down the window or open the door, police said.

    One officer broke the window and reached inside the car to take off Kuranko's seat belt, but the driver hit the gas, launching the car forward, police said. The officer's arm became tangled in the seat belt and he was dragged 35 feet until the car hit a snow bank and stopped.

    The officer was taken to Norwalk Hospital for treatment of injuries to his knees, neck and back, police said. He was treated and released from the hospital Thursday night.

    Kuranko was also taken to Norwalk Hospital with minor injuries. He was arrested and charged with assault on a police officer, interfering with police, carrying a weapon in a motor vehicle and reckless driving.

    Kuranko is being held on $15,000 bond and will be arraigned today.


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    West Hartford police have arrested three people after a certified nursing aide allegedly hired a prostitute to perform sex acts while he was supposed to be caring for an elderly man, police said.

    Police started investigating just after 9 p.m. on Thursday when a resident noticed a suspicious vehicle in a driveway on Glenwood Road.

    When officers responded, they found John Erdman, 30, of Bethel, who told officers he was picking up “Jessie” from a house that he could not identify, police said.

    Investigators didn’t think Erdman’s story made sense and his GPS was programmed for a house a few hundred feet away, so they went to the home and no one answered, police said. 

    Then officers noticed Raechelle Carmona, a 26-year-old Cromwell woman, walking toward Erdman’s car.

    Her version of the story was that Erdman had given her a ride to see a friend named Johnson, police said.

    As officers investigated, they realized there was a warrant for Carmona and Erdman eventually admitted he’d driven her to the area to perform sex acts on a certified nurse’s aide who was working at a home in the area in exchange for part of the proceeds, police said.

    Police identified the certified nurse‘s aide as Richard Sarpong, 27, of East Hartford, who was working for Companions & Homemakers and was supposed to be caring for an elderly man, according to a news release from police.

    Police contacted the company and they provided a replacement CNA for the evening.

    NBC Connecticut reached out to Companions & Homemakers and the corporate attorney issued the following statement.

    “The caregiver is a Connecticut CNA in good standing, that received favorable reports from the family he served. The allegations represent an unacceptable mistake in judgment, if proven,”  David Denvir,
    counsel for Companions & Homemakers, said.  

    Carmona was charged with prostitution and failure to appear. She is being held on a $7,500 bond.

    Erdman was charged with third-degree promoting prostitution and is being held on $5,000 bond. He has no criminal record was was ordered held on a $10,000 non-surety bond. He was ordered to stay away from the other suspects and is due back in court on March 26.

    Sarpong was charged with patronizing a prostitute and is being held on $2,000 bond.



    Photo Credit: West Hartford Police

    Richard Sarpong, Raechelle Carmona and John Erdman have been arrested on prostitution charges.Richard Sarpong, Raechelle Carmona and John Erdman have been arrested on prostitution charges.

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    One West Haven mom got the surprise of a lifetime on Friday morning, when Dylan Dreyer, of the "TODAY" show, showed up at her doorstep with tickets to paradise.

    Aida Cordero, a bus driver, entered "TODAY"’s Hot Ticket contest for a trip to the Bahamas, hoping to escape the 45 inches of snow West Haven has gotten so far this season. The single mother of two said she has always had the vacation days, but has never had the money to use them.

    “I really needed this,” Cordero said. “I haven’t been on vacation in five years and I do everything for my kids, everything.”

    Cordero and a friend will enjoy three nights in the Bahamas, and she said the first thing she plans to do is put her feet up while enjoying a margarita on the beach.

    More than 9,000 people entered the "TODAY" show contest. The first winner was in Buffalo, New York, the second was in Scituate, Massachusetts and Cordero was the third and final winner.

    “I’m very emotional and just so appreciate of NBC and the 'TODAY' show,” Cordero said.

    However, Cordero was not the only one to be surprised on Friday morning.

    The "TODAY" show hosts surprised Dreyer with her own hot ticket too. After being on the road the last 23 days covering snow, they said she has earned it.

    “I haven’t even processed it yet,” Dreyer said. “I just cannot wait to not answer my phone about when the next storm is coming and just enjoy every second of this.”



    Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

    Aida Cordero, of West Haven, won the Aida Cordero, of West Haven, won the "Today Show" hot ticket to get away to someplace warm.

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    A suspected would-be car thief was busted when he ran off because he could not drive a standard, according to police.

    Police responded to Sam’s Food Mart on Campbell Avenue in West Haven around 11 p.m. on Wednesday to investigate a report of a car theft in progress.

    When police arrived at the shop, they obtained a description of a man who’d tried to leave in a customer’s car, but he apparently couldn’t drive a standard and ran off, police said.

    Officers found Troy Matthews, 25, of West Haven, in the back parking lot of a Campbell Avenue office building, but he ran as police approached.

    After a brief foot chase, Matthews was arrested and charged with larceny and interfering with police.

    It was the second time he was arrested under suspicion of stealing a car this month. He was also arrested and charged on Feb. 4.



    Photo Credit: West Haven Police

    Troy Matthews tried to steal a car, but could not drive a standard, according to police.Troy Matthews tried to steal a car, but could not drive a standard, according to police.

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    Virginia mom of three Brooke Taheri opted to spend her Valentine’s Day working on her taxes and didn't expect the holiday to get any less romantic.

    Then she discovered her identity had been stolen.

    “You get that sinking feeling in your stomach,” said Taheri, 37, of Fairfax County, describing the moment she realized something was wrong.

    Tax-related identity theft is a growing concern, according to the Internal Revenue Service, which named it as one of its “dirty dozen” tax scams of 2015.

    “Preventing and detecting identity theft and refund fraud remains a top priority for the IRS," the government agency said in a statement. "We have added and strengthened protections in our systems, and we continue to make important progress in stoping identity theft and other fradulent refunds."

    Last year, the IRS initiated 1,063 identity theft-related investigations and the Federal Trade Commission reported receiving 109,063 complaints about tax-related identity theft, according to the IRS website.

    Taheri found out she was a victim when she tried to e-file her taxes and got a notice saying the IRS already received her forms.

    “I was livid and completely frustrated,” Taheri said.

    Yet submitting your tax return is the only way to uncover the distressing news before the tax season's deadline hits.

    Credit card companies continually monitor customers’ behavior, making it easier for them to pick up on any unusual activity. The IRS, however, only connects with taxpayers once a year. Fraudsters typically file early, beating taxpayers to the punch and making it difficult for the IRS to detect discrepancies against employers’ information, which the government agency receives in late spring.

    Since many Americans have yet to file their returns this tax season, it is too early to tell how many others are victims of tax-related identity theft although the majority should not be affected.

    About 1.5 million taxpayers received Identity Protection PINs, a six-digit unique number, by the IRS last year as part of a pilot program. The agency provided them with the extra security measure to all identity theft victims, including those whose data was compromised in schemes unrelated to their taxes.

    The IRS also offered the PINs to another 1.7 million taxpayers whose accounts signaled they could be victims.

    Filing early is one recommendation, but that didn’t prevent Taheri from experiencing a “very labor intensive” aftermath.

    “Thus far I’ve spent over four hours on music hold with different federal and local government agencies and then once I talk to people it’s been another hour and a half,” she said.

    Taheri filed a police report, contacted the IRS and the FTC, and checked with the Social Security Administration and other agencies to determine if her information had been used illegally, she said. And she still had to file her taxes, but now she must submit a paper copy along with an identity theft affidavit so the IRS can conduct its investigation, she said.

    Updating your passwords and usernames regularly, and monitoring your credit report are a few other steps taxpayers should take to avoid identity theft, according to resources available on the FTC and IRS websites. Another suggestion: Don’t give your personal information when it is not required of you or through unsecure channels.

    Taheri, who works in finance, admonished herself for failing to set up identity theft protection earlier.  She said she has now signed up for it. Taheri is also keeping a close eye on her credit reports and planning how she’ll avoid this in the future.

    “As soon as I get my W-2s and tax information, I will be filing as early as I physically can,” she said. “I will be the first to file.”

    And after a headache-filled Valentine's day, Taheri — who wasn't expecting a big hoopla — was finally able to celebrate with her family.

    "By the time I got off all the phone calls, I think we got carry-out."



    Photo Credit: Bloomberg via Getty Images

    The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) headquarters in Washington, D.C.The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) headquarters in Washington, D.C.

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    Willimantic police arrested a 41-year-old local man on drugs and weapons charges after a drug bust at his home on Friday morning.

    Police, armed with a warrant, searched 191 Southridge Drive early Friday morning and arrested the homeowner Kenneth Rodriguez Sr., 41, on a variety of charges, including weapons and narcotics possession. Exactly what police seized and how much is not clear, but authorities said they have been working on the case for a couple of months and called the bust substantial.

    Rodriguez was charged with narcotics possession of narcotics, possession of narcotics with intent to sell, operation of a drug factory and criminal possession of a firearm.

    Rodriguez is currently being held at Willimantic Police Headquarters on a $250,000 cash or surety bond and is due in Danielson Superior Court on March 2.



    Photo Credit: Willimantic Police

    Kenneth Rodriguez Sr. was arrested on drugs and weapons charges.Kenneth Rodriguez Sr. was arrested on drugs and weapons charges.

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    Firefighters rescued three people and one pet from a three-alarm blaze that broke out at a home under construction and quickly decimated three buildings on Hanover Street in Bridgeport, according to a spokesperson for the city.

    Flames ignited Friday morning on the second floor of 350 Hanover Street and quickly spread to three adjacent buildings, the fire department said. City officials said 10-12 families lost their homes as a result.

    Fire officials at the scene said the house was undergoing renovations to repair damage from a previous fire two years ago. They received reports that construction crews were working at the time the fire broke out.

    Homes on Hanover Street were built in close proximity, some only 15 feet apart, and fire officials said intense heat caused the houses next door to auto-ignite.

    "The source of the fire was in the basement in that home, and it jumped to the house that was just a few feet apart," said Bridgeport Mayor Bill Finch.

    The home at 350 Hanover Street had already collapsed by the time crews arrived at the scene, city officials said. Footage from the scene shows only the shell of a home remains.

    Video from viewer Marcello Scolari shows massive flames shooting from the roofs and heavy smoke rising into the air.

    No injuries have been reported. City leaders are praising firefighters for their hard work.

    "One of the most important things that the fire department prevented here was this entire block going up," said Finch. "We're lucky it wasn't worse than it was."

    Firefighters described the scene as a "labor-intensive fire" and said the presence of overhead wires prevented them from being able to use certain equipment. Snowbanks have also narrowed streets in the area.

    The cause of the blaze is under investigation. Volunteers from the American Red Cross are working to help residents who lost everything.



    Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com
    This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story on our mobile site.

    Firefighters are responding to at least two fires in Bridgeport.Firefighters are responding to at least two fires in Bridgeport.

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    A young woman who says she tried to help a Massachusetts teen before his 2014 suicide now faces manslaughter charges after text messages allegedly revealed that she encouraged him to take his own life.

    Court documents from New Bedford court outline a deeper look into the death of 18-year-old Conrad Roy, a student from Fairhaven and Mattapoisett.

    In July of 2014, Fairhaven Police found Roy's body in his car parked behind a store. They believe he committed suicide by means of carbon monoxide poisoning.

    Now, 18-year-old Michelle Carter of Plainville is facing involuntary manslaughter charges, having been indicted as a youthful offender.

    After Roy's body was found, according to documents, police accessed his cell phone. There, they found thousands of text messages between Roy and Carter.

    "Michelle not only encouraged Conrad to take his own life, she questioned him repeatedly as to when and why he hadn't done it yet, right up to the point of when his final text was sent to her on Saturday evening, July 12, 2014," police wrote after reviewing the messages.

    The new charges have reopened old wounds for the Roy family.

    "All I can think of is his smiling face," said Conrad's grandmother, Janice Roy. "He used to come play with his cousins on the beach."

    Police also allege Carter misled friends and Roy's family members when he was missing.

    The documents say that in other texts following his death, she told friends she heard him killing himself over the phone.

    Police say Roy had told Carter he was scared to leave his family, but that Carter encouraged him to commit suicide.

    "When he actually started to carry out the act, he got scared again and exited his truck," read the court documents. "But instead of telling him to stay out of the truck and turn off the generator Carter told him to 'get back in.'"

    The court documents also show that Roy confided in Carter, saying, "I feel like I'm only staying alive for other people, not myself." He also reportedly said, "There's nothing anyone can do for me that's gonna make me wanna live."

    Carter's attorney says his client is not a killer.

    Roy's Memorial Mass will be celebrated on Saturday at 11 a.m. at St. Anthony's Church, Mattapoisett. Visiting hours will be held on Friday from 4-8 PM at the Saunders-Dwyer Mattapoisett Home for Funerals, 50 County Rd., Route 6, Mattapoisett. In lieu of flowers, remembrances may be made to the Captain Conrad H. Roy III Scholarship Fund, c/o Northeast Maritime Institute, 32 Washington St., Fairhaven, MA 02719. For directions and guestbook, please visit www.saundersdwyer.com.



    Photo Credit: Northeast Maritime Institute/Facebook.com

    Conrad Roy, left, committed suicide in 2014. Michelle Carter, right, is now charged with manslaughter after allegedly encouraging Roy to take his own life.Conrad Roy, left, committed suicide in 2014. Michelle Carter, right, is now charged with manslaughter after allegedly encouraging Roy to take his own life.

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    Police are investigating after the body of a German Shepherd was found near a lake in North Stonington, according to town officials.

    First Selectman Nicholas Mullane said the dog was spotted Thursday afternoon near a lake on Wyassup Road.

    Mullane said it's not clear if the animal was a stray or if the body was intentionally placed on a snowbank, but a delivery worker who spotted the dog said fresh tire marks led directly to the body.

    "It was fresh marks yesterday morning at the time, and there was [sic] no footprints," said Mike Rabbitt, a courier who has worked the route for a dozen years.

    Rabbitt said he called town officials right away.

    "This is a spot where buses turn around, and I don't want kids to see, middle of the day, the bus turns around and they see the dog on there," he said.

    State police said they were notified around noon Thursday and contacted animal control to remove the dog's body.

    It's not clear what killed the dog. Mullane said the animal shows no signs of abuse and does not appear to have been very old when it died.

    "We're shipping it off to the state lab to determine cause of death," he explained. "Whatever happened, whether somebody hit it and moved it off to the side, or whether it just passed away and they left it there, dumped it – we don't know."

    No witnesses have come forward and no one has claimed ownership of the dog. Officials are working to track down the dog's owner but the investigation has proven difficult due to the lack of a collar and microchip, according to Mullane.

    "Hopefully there's not a dog owner out there that doesn't know where their dog is or what happened to it," said Rabbitt.

    Anyone with information is urged to call the North Stonington Town Hall or contact State Police Troop E at 860-848-6500.



    Photo Credit: Kayleigh Maine

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    An 82-year-old New York man who went missing from Danbury on Feb. 23 has been found safe in Wisconsin, according to police.

    State police said John Line rented a gray 2014 Mazda with Connecticut license plates 3AMDN1 to travel to his home in Fairport, New York.

    He never made it to New York and was found in Wisconsin on Friday night, according to Danbury police. It's not clear what he was doing there, but police said he was not hurt.



    Photo Credit: Connecticut State Police

    John Line, 82, has been missing from Danbury since Feb. 23.John Line, 82, has been missing from Danbury since Feb. 23.

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    Crews are responding to the report of a water main leak in the area of 35 Roberts Lane in West Hartford.

    Officials with the Metropolitan District Commission said a 6-inch water main sprang a leak Friday evening.

    It's not yet clear how many homes may have been affected.

    No additional information was immediately available.

    Check back for updates on this developing story.



    Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

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    Two residents of West Suffield are facing animal cruelty charges after more than 30 goats were found dead last month and dozens more were malnourished, according to the state Department of Agriculture.

    Farm owners Tara Bryson, 40, and Michael Hearl, 43, of West Suffield, are each facing 63 counts of animal cruelty.

    Officials said more than 30 goats were found emaciated at Butterfield Farm on Hautboy Hill Road in Cornwall on Jan. 16. The other half of the herd was already dead.

    The Department of Agriculture seized the malnourished goats and brought them to an animal rehabilitation facility in Niantic.

    Bryson and Hearl are accused of failing to provide proper food, water and shelter to their herd of goats.

    State officials said "the inadequate care left the goats unable to maintain a healthy body weight needed for growth and maintenance" and also took a toll on their "ability to handle cold weather, resist parasites and disease and deal with other stressful conditions such as pregnancy."

    Bryson was arrested Thursday in West Suffield and was released after posting $60,000 bond. Hearl turned himself in to Suffield police on Friday, according to the state Department of Agriculture.

    Bryson and Hearl could each face up to 63 years in prison and be ordered to pay a $63,000 fine.



    Photo Credit: Steve Jensen/State Dept. of Agriculture

    Goats from a farm in Cornwall are recovering at an animal rehab facility in Niantic after they were found emaciated last month.Goats from a farm in Cornwall are recovering at an animal rehab facility in Niantic after they were found emaciated last month.

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    Whether you are gung-ho "white and gold" or a big believer in "blue and black," there is no question the great dress debate is dividing homes and offices across America.

    Wallingford Eye Associates is no exception.

    With his employees are dealing with quite the color conundrum, Dr. Thomas Conrod believes it all has to do with our visual perception.

    “Our eyes just receive the images, but our brain processes the information, and sometimes our brain uses addition information, background information, to affect what we see,” said Conrod.

    According to Conrod, the varying visuals are less about the dress and more about everything around it, from the background to the lighting and, in this particular picture, even the jacket.

    “People perceive the amount of lighting on the dress to be different, so your visual cortex says ‘Well, there is more lighting in that room,’ so the color our eyes is actually seeing is affected by the information our brain is putting in as well,” Conrod said.

    Conrod explained that an individual's visual perception can actually change, which is perhaps why some people just can't commit.

    “I think each time I look at it, it looks different to me,” said Cheshire resident Jennie Flavell.

    The company that designed the dress says it's made in blue and black.

    But a picture is worth a thousand words and when it comes to this one, people clearly are not done talking.


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    Uber says a database containing the names and drivers' license numbers of 50,000 of its drivers was breached in May.

    The ride-sharing service says it has notified the drivers and hasn't received any reports of the information being misused. Uber says it will offer a one-year membership in Experian's ProtectMyID Alert identity theft protection service to the drivers involved.

    The company said Friday the breach affects drivers in multiple states, but involves only a "small percentage" of its current and former drivers.

    Uber says it discovered a potential breach in September. It announced the events in a statement posted on its blog and described them as a one-time occurrence. The San Francisco company says it has changed the access protocols for its database to prevent similar breaches.

    Uber is the latest company to report a data breach in recent months. Others include retailer Home Depot, health insurer Anthem and Sony Pictures Entertainment. The problems can be costly as well as damaging to consumers' perception of a company.

    Uber is privately-held and valued at $40 billion. It lets passengers summon cars through an app in more than 250 cities worldwide, but faces multiples legal and regulatory challenges as it expands in the United States and abroad. The company has been criticized over the thoroughness of the background checks it does on drivers and other safety issues as well as its method of raising prices when demand goes up.

    Earlier this month Uber introduced new safety features for riders in India, include a "panic button" on its app that would let riders notify police in an emergency and a "safety net" that would let riders share trip details with others. The features were rolled out after a highly-publicized case where a passenger said she was raped by an Uber driver.


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    Six people are facing federal charges after stealing Rolex watches worth $250,000 from the Lux Bond & Green store in West Hartford, and authorities have linked them to a group of thieves behind jewelry store heists in at least five other states.

    Michigan residents Ernie Thomas Evans, 25, Darrick Adams, 29, Brandon Mayes, 20, Bria Jackson, 22, Shaquita Wyatt, 24, and Bria Stanford, 21, were arrested Thursday.

    Police said they smashed display cases and stole $250,000 in Rolex watches from the Lux Bond & Green store at 46 LaSalle Road in West Hartford on Oct. 8 of last year.

    According to West Hartford police, the suspects returned to Michigan with the stolen merchandise and sold it on the black market.

    All six have been charged with conspiracy to interfere with commerce by robbery and will be prosecuted in federal court in Michigan.

    According to the FBI, the group is tied to a network of thieves – all Michigan residents in their 20s – believed to have carried out similar robberies in New York, Maryland, North Carolina, Mississippi and Nebraska.

    Group members traveled across the country, entered jewelry stores during business hours and used sledge hammers to smash glass cases, according to the FBI. They stole Rolex watches and escaped in getaway cars that brought them back to Michigan.

    The FBI said Thursday's arrests come as part of an investigation into 40 smash-and-grab robberies that occurred around the country in 2014.

    A $45,000 reward is being offered in exchange for information leading to the arrests of the other 11 robbers who have been identified by name.



    Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

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    You know that spring is on the way in Brooklyn when The Soup Bowl becomes Uncle Louie G's Italian ices.

    In mid-March, the sign comes down for the hole-in-a-wall take-out place with a devoted following and a daily selection of some 18 soups, and Uncle Louie G takes its place. The seasonal switch on Seventh Avenue keeps the storefront in the black throughout the year.

    A similar change takes place at the Brooklyn Porridge Co. and the Vendome macaron bar, two other Brooklyn spots that turn into Uncle Louie G's Italian ice shops when a frozen treat no longer feels like a cruel joke.

    "Today, the way the economy is, it’s a great concept," Uncle Louie G’s Dino Russo said. “This way you earn 12 months out of year."

    Richard Gussoff approached Russo five years ago with his plan to offer soup in the Seventh Avenue shop, which until then had closed in November for the winter. Gussoff had sold three restaurants in Manhattan’s theater district not long before — a decision prompted by proposed monthly rent increases of up to $5,000 — and had noticed the shuttered space.

    “Soup was always my forte in my restaurants,” he said.

    J.P. Eggers, an associate professor at New York University’s Stern School of Business, compared the phenomenon to pop-up stores, increasingly popular in high-traffic areas where rents are high. A seasonal shop in a vacation location has little value once visitors go home, but real estate costs remain high for a store in a place like Brooklyn, he noted.

    “The idea of leaving it with either no business because it’s closed or with a business that is just not going to make any money at that time of day or in that season just doesn’t make any sense,” he said. “It’s far too valuable a property to do that.”

    Uncle Louie G, which also sells ice cream, was started about 20 years by Russo’s brother and sister-in-law. Russo and three friends took it over in 2009 and expanded the company so that today there are nearly 60 outlets throughout the metropolitan New York area and as far as Florida, Oklahoma, California and even Malaysia. The individual stores are owned by license-holders who pay $15,000 and agree to buy ices and ice cream from Uncle Louie G.

    Russo was skeptical when Gussoff first came to him, doubtful that he would be able to sell enough soup to afford the space. Each man jotted down a number for the monthly rent on a napkin, and each wrote the same -- $2,000. The Soup Bowl opened.

    “I’m not a spiritual person, but if something was meant to be, that was a good sign,” Gussoff said. “They’re happy because I’m paying the rent. It works because in the winter, you don’t really want ice cream except for a few kids, and in the summer you don’t want soup.”

    The owners of the Brooklyn Porridge Co., Emily Hannon and Karyn Seltzer, similarly approached Uncle Louie G after spotting an empty store on Union Street. The two had worked together at a corporate restaurant, were fast friends and wanted to offer something to customers with dietary restrictions.

    “We started researching porridge, and the whole idea of porridge and discovered it exists in every culture,” Hannon said. “It’s an ancient comfort food.”

    Their porridge, gluten- and dairy-free, is made from steel cut oats, grits, amaranth millet or brown rice and is served with savory or sweet toppings, everything from braised red cabbage to wildflower honey.

    Hannon and Seltzer hope to keep their restaurant open year-round by finding another location and adding summer items to the menu. They are looking for other ways to expand: making the restaurant replicable and franchising and selling their sauces, compotes and sweet and savory granolas online.

    The seasonal store has allowed them to test their ideas without making a large investment, they said.

    “It’s been a warm, friendly way to start something, to start a business,” Hannon said.

    Vendome on Smith Street is the brainchild of Taryn Garcia, who had studied film and landed at the Food Network after moving from Colorado to New York.

    “I wasn’t totally in love working in production, and I just thought, “God, they’re having so much more fun in the kitchen,” she said.

    She ended up in Paris studying pastry art and while there noticed the long lines at some of the shops selling macarons, the meringue-based French confections. She knew then she would make them when she returned to the United States.

    She and her partner, Adriana Troli, sell their macarons at Saks Fifth Avenue and later this year will open a permanent shop at 1 Brooklyn Bridge Park, the former Jehovah’s Witnesses’ printing plant that has been turned into condominiums.

    In the meantime, Garcia found the Uncle Louie G space advertised on Craigslist as a pop-up store for just over $3,000 a month.

    “We looked at the cost to see: How are we going to make money? Will we break even? Is this going to be a loss?” Garcia said. “We decided to go for it.”

    In the new store, they will offer not only macarons, but also coffee, some breakfast and lunch foods and maybe even wine and Champagne.

    Gussoff said he was not sure what he would do once Uncle Louie G returns next month. His soups are widely popular — his lobster bisque sold out the first day, thanks to the staff of nearby New York Methodist Hospital — but he said he knew business would drop off by 90 percent once the temperatures rise.

    Still, his customers return each year, he said.

    “There are people that come to us, and they say we're the only thing they like about winter,” he said.
     



    Photo Credit: Noreen O'Donnell
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    Adriana Troli and Taryn Garcia of Vendome in BrooklynAdriana Troli and Taryn Garcia of Vendome in Brooklyn

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    An NYPD detective on his way to work in Queens, New York, was killed in a wrong-way crash on a Westchester highway early Friday that backed up traffic for hours, and the 46-year-old officer's wife was tragically stuck in the jam as she tried to take the couple's teenage daughter to school, officials and relatives say.

    The officer, Paul Duncan, was headed south on the Sprain Brook Parkway near Greenburgh in a Honda Pilot at about 4 a.m. when a 2013 Honda Civic headed the wrong way crashed into the detective's SUV head-on. Duncan was pronounced dead at the scene.

    The driver of the Civic, 20-year-old Efren Moreano of Yonkers, was taken to Westchester Medical Center and is in a coma, police say. It's not clear why Moreano was driving the wrong way.

    Aerial footage from Chopper 4, which was first on the scene, showed one mangled vehicle on the highway and another stopped off the roadway.

    Duncan's wife, Rechelle, said her husband normally leaves for work at the department's Internal Affairs Bureau in Queens around 8 a.m., but got an unusually early start Friday.

    When she went to drive her daughter to school in the city shortly before 7 a.m., she encountered a police car blocking access to the Sprain Brook Parkway by her home. It took her two hours to get to the city, and she had no idea the traffic was related to a response to an accident that had claimed her husband's life.

    "I don't even know how that's possible," a composed yet stunned Rechelle Duncan told NBC 4 New York.

    She and her husband were high school sweethearts who had been married for more than 20 years. Rechelle Duncan said her husband was planning to retire from the NYPD this year.

    "He was thoughtful, he was disciplined. He made really good dinners," Rechelle Duncan said of her husband. "He thought he was funny, a sharp dresser, a really good dad."

    Now, she says, she plans to focus on staying strong for her 13-year-old daughter.

    Greenburgh Town Supervisor said after the crash that the state police and Department of Transportation should both look into ways to improve infrastructure on the highway. 

    -Jonathan Dienst contributed to this report


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