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Yale Pledges to Fill 1,000 New Jobs with New Haven Residents


As Yale University expands with the construction of two new residential colleges, the Elm City’s largest employer is pledging to fill a thousand new jobs over the next three years with New Haven residents.

"We view the employment of New Haven residents to be an integral part of our efforts to accelerate the economic development of the City," Yale President Peter Salovey said.

Yale, Unite Here Yale Unions and New Haven Works announced the employment outreach to neighborhoods with the highest unemployment and poverty rates on Friday.

“We’ve recovered somewhat from the recession,” Mayor Toni Harp said, “but there some neighborhoods where people still can’t get jobs”

It is in those communities, like the Hill, Dixwell and Newhallville, where Yale will try to help the unemployed get back to work.

The new positions will range from administrative and clerical jobs to openings in the university’s dining halls and janitorial staffs, Mayor Harp said.

Yale is cooperating with New Haven Works, an organization with the mission of ending joblessness.

“They have people now who are ready to work,” Mayor Harp said. “They’ve been screened and Yale is going to be working over the next three years to get those people employed.”

According to the U-S Census Bureau, unemployment in the Elm City is at 9 percent and one in four families live below the federal poverty line.

Photo Credit: File -- Bloomberg via Getty Images

Animal Shelter Fighting Back After 43 Animals Seized


Supports for the Almost Home animal shelter rallied to protest Plainville's decision to seize its animals. 

The Monday night protests come almost a month after the town took away 43 animals from what officials said were deplorable conditions.

"This is about our animals," Lori Romano, Vice President of Almost Home said. "We want them back. They need us as much as we need them."

Town officials said a veterinarian found most of the animals seized had fleas. Some of them had poor hair coats, mats, urine soiling and stool-matting. Only 11 of the 43 pets were considered clean.

"The veterinarian confirmed that there were some serious conditions with the animals," Plainville Town Manager Robert Lee said.

Volunteers categorically deny the claims of neglect and showed up to a Town Council Meeting Monday night hoping members would help bring their animals back.

"It was clean and we loved those animals," volunteer Barbara Robertson said. "They were cared for believe me."

"They are fine," Romano said.  "I’m not saying some of the animals didn’t come in bad condition but we received them that way."

The town has filed a verified petition seeking permanent custody of the pets so that they can be adopted. Plainville said in addition to the conditions reported, the facility is not zoned to be a shelter. 

"We have the same goal as Almost Home and that is to find good homes for these animals," Lee said. "We think this is the best way to do that at this point in time, to start from square one."

Hartford Officials Demand Assurance of Timely Stadium Completion


Developers for the Yard Goat's new stadium may have overrun millions in costs and may not get the project complete in time for opening day on April 7, 2016. 

The mild weather may have been ideal for construction, but crews working on Dunkin' Donuts Park only have about three and a half months until opening day, so the Yard Goats owner and the chairman of the Hartford Stadium Authority are concerned it won't be done on time.

"I am concerned that there's a chance the ballpark may not be ready for opening day," Yard Goats owner Josh Solomon said.

The developer, DoNo Hartford LLC, said the predicted delayed completion comes down to money. The project may be as much as $10 million over-budget.

"If the owners wanted this project and want to make money off it as the years go by they need to put the money right now to finish the project," Larry Deutsch, Hartford city councilman, said.

Officials from DoNo Hartford LLC say that if additional money is made available, they will finish the project on time.

Charles Matthews, the Hartford Stadium Authority's chairman, told the Hartford Courant that DoNo Hartford has said "the ballpark may not be ready until late spring and there is a $10 million shortfall." He also told the newspaper that the stadium authority "remains committed to working toward the goal of successfully completing the ballpark, ready for baseball in 2016, at no additional cost of the city of Hartford."

Bob Landino, one of the developers, said the company did not have full control over the stadium's design and instead received "completed drawings" from Hartford that "depicted a significantly more expensive ballpark." The developers claim the city rejected a lot of their cost reduction measures.

"Our team has every intention of completing the ballpark on time," Landino said in a press release.

But officials have demanded that DoNo Hartford LLC puts it in writing that the project will be completed by March 11 and not cost the city more than the budget agreed upon. 

The city has requested the developers appear at a meeting on Jan. 5.

Woman Donates to Help Vandalism Victim's Christmas


Last week's report of family's Christmas in jeopardy after someone with a BB gun vandalized their family's van and home sparked a local woman to help out. 

Jaime Cilinceon of West Haven feared that the repair to her shattered minivan window would come at a cost to her daughters at a time so close to Christmas and right before their 5th and 8th birthdays.

“That's two hundred dollars that could have gone to the kids’ Christmas and both girls have birthdays right after Christmas," said Cilinceon told NBC Connecticut last week.

A woman, who wishes to remain unnamed, wrote an email to NBC Connecticut in order to help out Cilinceon's family.

"I've been in a bad spot financially and it's always the kids who take the brunt of it," the woman said.

The woman signed the message, “Someone Back on their Feet and Trying to Pay it Forward”.

An NBC Connecticut news crew was able to meet with that mystery mother this week, who asked that an envelope and card be delivered to Cilinceon in West Haven. On the outside of the envelope was a simple message: "From my family to yours". On the inside were the words "Good luck. Best wishes and happy holidays".

Inside the card were four new $50 bills, which is just enough to cover the cost of fixing that broken van window.

“It's overwhelming. It really is. I mean, it's overwhelming," said Cilinceon. "There's still good people out there.”

Neighbors, who's homes and cars were also hit, said their faith in their fellow man has just been restored by a woman they don't even know.

“Whoever you are, you touched our heart," said Robin Foster, who lives on the corner of Dana St.

Cilinceon, meanwhile, said that she intends to take the gift she has just been given and promises to somehow 'pay it forward'.

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

Record Warmth, Periodic Rain Next Few Days


Record warmth will be accompanied by unsettled weather through Christmas Eve.

Tomorrow starts dry but cloudy, before steady rain moves in during the afternoon. Thunder is possible! The rain will continue into the evening hours. Temperatures will be in the upper 50s.

Christmas Eve remains cloudy and mostly dry. Temperatures will smash records as they rise into the upper 60s. Records for Christmas Eve are 59 in the Hartford area and 57 in the Bridgeport area.

Much of Christmas Day looks dry, with some sun! Temperatures will be near record levels in the lower 60s.

The unsettled weather continues this weekend with clouds and the threat for rain showers. It will be on the cool side Saturday, in the middle 40s, though middle 50s return Sunday.

So far this month, the tally of warm records been broken or tied is four in the Hartford area and nine in Bridgeport area.

A storm could bring a brief mix to rain early next week, likely on Monday or Tuesday.

Formerly-Missing 'X-Men' Producer Reveals He's an Addict


A Hollywood special effects producer who went missing on Nov. 24, launching a weeks-long search and tear-filled pleas from his family to find him, revealed on Facebook that he's an addict and thanked everyone who looked for him. 

"My name is Eric Kohler and I am an addict," he said in one of the opening paragraphs of his post on Sunday. The post had received 461 likes and 515 shares on Facebook by Monday afternoon. 

"The actions that led up to the events unfolding over these past few weeks are not my proudest moments. Addiction is a serious issue that I clearly recognize now," Kohler said.

The 27-year-old visual effects producer, who worked on films such as "The Avengers," "San Andreas," and "X-Men," said he went into a "frenzy" because of high expectations, stress and addiction. He disappeared because of an emotional and physical breakdown, he said. 

In the post, Kohler also said that through his "downward spiral" he witnessed a miracle.

"I witnessed support from family, friends, loved ones, co-workers and people I've never even met before," Kohler said. "Individuals from every corner of the country and even across borders united as one to create a support group during a period of my life that I wasn't even aware I needed."

Kohler went missing when he left work on a Tuesday without his wallet, laptop, or bag. He didn't contact his family to let them know of his whereabouts, so they began frantically posting fliers and making their pleas via media outlets to find him.

He took off from his job in Gardena in his new Range Rover.

Surveillance footage showed he went to a Food 4 Less parking lot, then apparently turned off his phone.

"I know my son would never do this," Sheryi Kohler said in one of the first appearances the family made on TV.

The Los Angeles Police Department said 10 days after he disappeared tha Kohler was found alive in La Paz, Mexico, and was no longer considered a missing person.

Media outlets received concerned pleas from the public to continue looking for Kohler after word that he had turned up in Mexico began circulating.

A Facebook post from his sister published hours before LAPD's announcement that Kohler was found said that Eric was still missing, and police as well as the media were wrong about him being found.

"It is very unfortunate that the local news and other media outlets are running stories that are NOT true," the post from Kristina Loren said. "We have not located Eric! He is not in La Paz Mexico, that photo was a hoax. The authorities are working very hard to find Eric!"

Calls and messages to the family were not returned to NBC4.

After Kohler posted his apology to Facebook Sunday, Loren said on the social media site that she was incredibly proud of her brother for writing the post.

NBC4 has reached out once again after the news of Kohler's Facebook post, but the family has not responded.  

Photo Credit: Photo Courtesy LAPD

Suspect in NY Traffic Dispute Murder Charged as Fugitive From Justice in CT: PD


A Shelton man charged in Connecticut as a fugitive from justice is awaiting extradition to New York for various charges including murdering a man when he shot two people following a traffic altercation in Queens, New York a few years ago, police said.

Shelton police responded to Westside Lane in Shelton on Monday at 5 a.m. to arrest George Cupi, 52, of Shelton, police said. Homicide detectives from the 102nd Queens precinct and United States Marshals responded with them.

Cupi is being held on a $100,000 bond on a fugitive from justice charge out of Connecticut and is scheduled to appear in Derby Superior Court on Tuesday as he awaits extradition to New York for several other charges stemming from a fatal shooting in Queens, police said. He can't officially be arrested on the New York charges until he is brought there.

He was involved in a traffic dispute with two other men on 125th Street in Queens on July 14, 2011, police said. After arguing with the men, Cupi left and then returned, shooting them both with a handgun, police said. Both men were rushed to the hospital and one of them was pronounced dead upon arrival.

The other other man lived.

Police said there is no known relationship between Cupi and the men he shot, police said.

Photo Credit: Shelton Police Department

2 NY Airman Killed in Afghan Blast


A second airman based with the U.S. Air National Guard in New York is among the six Americans killed in a suicide bomb attack in Afghanistan Monday, authorities said Tuesday.

Louis Bonacasa, 30, who is from Coram and was stationed at Stewart Air National Guard Base in Newburgh, died in Monday's attack along with NYPD detective Joseph Lemm, a 15-year veteran of the department who was also stationed at that base, family members and officials confirmed Tuesday.

Bonacasa and Lemm were on routine security patrol with their convoy around Bagram Airfield north of Kabul when a suicide bomber drove a motorcycle into the convoy and blew himself up, NBC News reported.

They and four other Americans in the convoy of U.S., NATO and Afghan forces were killed while two other Americans and an interpreter were wounded, according to NBC News.

The Taliban has claimed responsibility for the attack.

Bonacasa and Lemm's 105th Base Defense Squadron had deployed to Bagram in October, and the two men were both on their last tours of duty, their relatives said.

"Leading a team of passionate defenders, they took on the most challenging mission for themselves and epitomized the concept of leading from the front, a concept that has distinct risks that they both acknowledged and embraced," said Col. Timothy Labarge, commander of the 105th Airlift Wing. "Their example and sacrifice will never be forgotten as we do our part, on behalf of a grateful nation, to thank and memorialize them in perpetuity."

Bonacasa's mother, Diana, said she remembers the day her son came to her and told her he wanted to be a soldier.

"He graduated high school in 2002, he was only 17, and he said, 'Mom, I want to join the Marines,'" Diana Bonacasa told NBC News. "I said, 'No, if you're going into the service you're going into the Air Force. I wanted him to go to college."

His mother said he enlisted right after graduation. Family said Louis Bonacasa completed four tours in hostile territory. Diana Bonacasa said her son learned after arriving home from one of his last tours that a friend who had replaced him had been killed. She said he wasn't the same after that, and believes that's why he volunteered for another tour -- the tour from which he would not come home.

"This time that he left, it felt different," Diana Bonacasa told NBC News. "All the other times we kissed and hugged but this time something felt like I wouldn't see him again. I cried for two weeks."

Louis Bonacasa is survived by his wife and 5-year-old daughter. He met his wife in bootcamp and married her at 19. She is also a veteran.

Lemm served in the Bronx warrant squad on the NYPD, and during his career on the force, he was also deployed three times, twice to Afghanistan and once to Iraq, Bratton said. He was promoted to NYPD detective in January of 2014.

Lemm lived in West Harrison in Westchester, where grieving neighbors and friends offered up bittersweet memories. 

"He was a good man," said Fred Riguzzi, owner of Fred's Barbershop where Lemm often stopped in for a haircut. "It's tough. It's tough."

Two years ago, Lemm returned from a tour in Afghanistan to surprise his wife Christine and two children, Brooke and Ryan, at a singing competition at Westchester Burger in Rye Brook.

Restaurant owner and family friend Vincent Corso recalled of the tearful reunion: "It was a very touching night. You had 200 people with tears in their eyes." 

Corso said Lemm was in the restaurant two months ago, "happy because this was his last tour." 

At Barino's Market in the Bronx, near the 50th Precinct stationhouse where Lemm was most recently working, the staff grew to know Lemm and would ship him care packages full of local specialties like cookies and candies, "things to remind them of home," said Michael Barrett.

"It's heartbreaking," said Barrett. "He was a class-A good guy."

"He protected us here, protected us abroad," he said. "There's nothing that guy didn't do for us." 

"Detective Joseph Lemm epitomized the selflessness we can only strive for: putting his county and city first," Bratton said in a statement.

Lemm's children will receive a gift from a foundation that provides scholarship funds for the children of firefighters and police officers in the metropolitan area who are killed in the line of duty, NBC 4 has learned. Though Lemm was on leave from the NYPD and deployed as a member of the National Guard, the board of the Silver Shield Foundation has decided to set aside funds for his two children to honor his service to his country and his city. 

Gov. Cuomo released a statement Tuesday morning saying those who died will be "greatly missed."

"Staff Sgt. Joe Lemm was committed to his fellow Americans, and embodied the selflessness and bravery of the U.S. Armed Forces and the NYPD. I join all New Yorkers in mourning his loss, as well as the loss of the other victims of this horrific attack," he said in the statement.

Westchester County Executive Robert P. Astorino called Lemm "a true-grit all-American hero who fought for his country during three tours of duty, served his community as a police officer, and was a loving husband and father. Westchester is on bended knee in sadness over the death of one of our own and the grief that it brings the Lemm family." 

Lemm and Bonecasa are the 34th and 35th members of the New York National Guard to die in combat since the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. They are the second and third members of the New York Air National Guard to die in combat.

The first New York Air National Guard Airman to die in combat was Staff Sgt. Todd J. Lobraico Jr., who was killed while operating in the vicinity of Bagram Air Base on Sept. 3, 2013. Like Lemm and Bonecasa, he was a member of the 105th Base Defense Squadron.

Since Sept. 11, 2001, 12 members of the New York Army and Air National Guard have died while deployed in Afghanistan.

Photo Credit: Handout/News 12

Truck Carrying 2,600 Piglets Flips Over on North Carolina Highway


First responders are working to rescue 2,600 piglets after a truck carrying the animals rolled over on a North Carolina highway, according to NBC affiliate WNCN.

The tractor-trailer flipped onto its side and hit a guard rail Tuesday on Interstate 40 in Raleigh, seriously injuring some of the swine, WNCN reports.

Other piglets got loose and began wandering around the site of the crash, which stalled traffic on the highway.

Police, firefighters and animal control flocked to the scene to rescue the animals and right the overturned truck. Animal control used nets to capture loose piglets, a WNCN reporter tweeted.

It's unclear if the driver was hurt or what caused the truck to flip onto its side. According to WNCN, the truck was traveling from Johnston County, North Carolina, to Iowa when it crashed.

Some 2,200 piglets were involved in a similar rollover in Ohio over the summer.

Photo Credit: WNCN
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Police Nab 3 Burglary Suspects After Pursuit Onto I-84


An active burglary call that started while a homeowner was home led to a police pursuit of the suspects onto Interstate 84 west that ended with the arrests of three people.

Several police officers responded to the area of 19 Levesque Avenue in West Hartford to investigate a reported active burglary in a home on Monday at 12:01 p.m. The resident was home at the time and one of the suspects smashed a window pane in efforts to break into the house, police said. The homeowner yelled at him and knocked his hand away as he reached to open the door, so the burglar took off.

Dispatchers notified police that the suspect vehicle was a two-door black car with heavily tinted windows and New York license plates.

Two West Hartford police officers saw a four-door car otherwise matching the description head onto I-84 west from Kane Street, police said. They stopped the car on the highway and arrested Ariana Chavez, 20, Jose Grullon, 27, and Aristedes Sanchez, 21, all from New York, after taking them into custody and finding a small amount of marijuana and multiple fake credit cards and identification cards on the dashboard on the car, police said.

Chavez, Fullon and Sanchez are all charged with possession of less than four ounces of marijuana and conspiracy to commit second-degree burglary. Both Chavez and Sanchez also were charged with third-degree forgery and unlawful reproduction of a credit card. Police also charged Chavez with interfering with an officer.

The house appeared to be randomly targeted, according to police. There was no indication that the homeowner knew the suspects.

The suspects had several IDs on them and its unknown if they belongted to Hartford residents.

They were scheduled to appear in Hartford Superior Court on Tuesday.

Photo Credit: DOT

Boyfriend of Dead Baby's Mother Arrested on Unrelated Charges


A man interviewed about the death of his girlfriend's baby is separately wanted in a New York robbery, so he's been charged as a fugitive from justice in Old Saybrook.

While investigating the death of a 14-month-old child found unresponsive and not breathing in a room at Econo Lodge Inn and Suites at 1750 Boston Post Road early Saturday afternoon, police interviewed Keith Frost, 29, the boyfriend of the baby's mother, and learned he was wanted for first-degree robbery in Suffolk County, New York, police said.

Old Saybrook police therefore charged Frost with being a fugitive from justice.

When police were first speaking with Frost, he used a fake name, police said. As police investigated, they learned what his true identity was and that led to the discovery he was wanted in the New York robbery, police said. Investigators suspect he told them a false name to prevent them from discovering his pending robbery charge and arrested him on a criminal impersonation charge, police said.

Frost lives at the hotel where the baby was found unresponsive.

Old Saybrook police held Frost in custody on a $175,000 bond until he appeared in Middlesex Superior Court on Monday. After his court appearance, he was transferred to Hartford Correctional, where he is now being held on a $375,000 court-set bond.

Police continue to investigate the death of the baby, but it's unknown whether Frost or anyone else is a suspect in that case.

The infant died Sunday evening of undisclosed injuries in Yale-New Haven Hospital.

Police said the incident was "very sad," but that it's been deemed an isolated event that doesn't pose a risk to the public.

Old Saybrook police searched a room at the hotel late Saturday night on a warrant and seized several items that needed to be forensically examined.

Police ask anyone with information to call the Department of Police Services at 860-395-3142.

Photo Credit: Old Saybrook Police

Former Officer Charged With Workers' Comp Fraud


A former Madison police officer was arrested Monday on charges of workers' compensation fraud and perjury, according to the state Division of Criminal Justice (DCJ).

Robert Zeidenberg, 48, of Woodbridge, reported suffering a work-related injury on July 3  and was paid his regular salary while on leave, according to the arrest warrant. Although he was deemed unable to fulfill his regular duties as a police officer or drive due to his reported injuries, he was seen working out at gym in Hamden and lifting weights during his time off, according to the warrant.

He resigned in November.

The Connecticut Interlocal Risk Management Agency, which provides workers' compensation coverage to Madison, filed a complaint, which led to an investigation and then his arrest, according to the DCJ.

Police released Zeidenberg on a promise to appear in New Haven Superior court on Dec. 29.

The Workers' Compensation Fraud Control Unit is prosecuting the case.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Woman Killed on Vegas Strip Was Loving Mom of 3


The woman killed on the Las Vegas Strip when a driver crashed into pedestrians was recalled by family and her pastor as a loving mother of three daughters and "faithful" new member of a Bible study group.

Jessica Valenzuela, 32, was killed when a car crashed into a crowd, injuring more than 30 others, authorities said. Authorities believe the car's driver, Lakeisha Holloway, 24, intentionally plowed into pedestrians, but said they did not know specifics on her motive. Holloway had her 3-year-old daughter with her at the time.

"There are absolutely no words to express how devastating and shocking this loss is. She will be missed dearly, and that couldn't be more of an understatement," Valenzuela's brother, Bryan Roessler, wrote on Facebook.

Holloway was charged Tuesday with one count of murder with use of a deadly weapon as well as child abuse and leaving the scene of an accident. She is next scheduled to appear in court on Dec. 23. Clark County District Attorney Steve Wolfson said they plan to file more charges. 

Photo Credit: via gofundme.com

Danger of Spleen Injuries in Youth Sports



Nicole Prosinski, a goalie from Enfield, was severly injured during an indoor soccer game when she dove to grab a ball as an opposing player was charging.

"She fell while I dove and just came right into my stomach. It felt like there was a big cramp all in my stomach, like I was knotted up or something," Prosinski said.

Her dad, Tim, thought she had the wind knocked out of her.

“But once we got her to the sidelines, she just could not snap out of it,” Prosinki's father explained.

The 9th grader had lacerated her spleen.

For Prosinski, a four day stay at Connecticut Children's Medical Center stopped the bleeding.

“It’s uncommon for a spleen injury related to sports to be fatal, but it's certainly something you want to be aware of,” her physician, Dr. Brendan Campbell, from Connecticut Children's, said.

In the case of the New Jersey teen -- who died from a similiar injury months before Nicole's accident -- his spleen was abnormally large.

“It definitely would not have healed. It would have continued to bleed and would have had more blood loss and then, whatever complications would have come,” said Nicole’s father.

How does someone know if their spleen is injured?

Prosinski said she felt pain go up her shoulder. That's common, according to Campbell.

The doctor added, “if you have an injury to your spleen that's significant, you're going to know something's wrong,” explaining that “the types of events that are going to injure your spleen are either getting a shoulder or a knee to the left side or left flank.”

For Prosinski, three months of restricted activity has gotten her back in the game. Said her dad, “she bounced back. She's pretty tough.”

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

Emanuel Lands on List of 'The Worst People of 2015'


Mayor Rahm Emanuel landed on a list of people that includes Kentucky county clerk Kim Davis, comedian Bill Cosby, ex-Subway pitchman Jared Fogle and suspended FIFA president Sepp Blatter.

GQ Magazine released its heavily editorialized list of “The Worst People of 2015,” explaining that it includes individuals who have “a special kind of charisma—it’s like reverse charisma, or anti-charisma. Charis-meh.”

“They are the biggest nothing-doers in the world this year, and this is their reward,” the publication said.

Emanuel, the only mayor on the list, landed at number 26. The publication referenced the city's release of the Laquan McDonald video, alleging that the mayor permitted its surpression during his reelection.

The publication also said Emanuel "probably has a secret room filled with carved figurines of all his rivals, and he spends all night moving them around on a marble chessboard and cackling maniacally."

Emanuel has faced mounting criticism over the handling of the McDonald case. The mayor's office has yet to respond to NBC Chicago's request for comment about the list. However, Emanuel publicly apologized for the police shooting death of the 17-year-old in a special address to Chicago's City Council on Dec. 9.

Other notable entrees on the list include Floyd Mayweather Jr., Meghan Trainor and “Every Cleveland Cavalier Not Named LeBron James.”

17-Year-Old Shot Outside of Birthday Party in Hamden

Police Seek Lewd Driver Who Exposed Himself to Teenager: PD


West Hartford police are looking for a lewd driver who exposed himself to teenage girl walking home from Hall High School on Monday afternoon, police said.

A girl under 18 complained to police that she was walking home from school at about 2:45 p.m. on Monday when she noticed a black car driving slowly behind her in the area of Seneca Road, police said.

The driver pulled up next to her and called out "hello" and "you look really good" to the girl through the rolled down passenger window, police said. As he talked to her, he was fondling himself and exposed his genitals to her. She ran off and the car sped away, police said.

She reported the incident to police about 10 minutes later and officers responded to canvass the area for the man.

The girl described the man to police as someone in his late 20s to early 30s who was unshaven and was wearing dark sweats, a gray sweatshirt with the hood up over a black and yellow baseball hat he had on his head.

The car the man was in was described as a black older four-door sedan with a gray interior and it was possibly a Toyota or Nissan, police said. It had Connecticut license plates and the front plate was bent over the bumper, police said.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

CT Gunmaker to Go Under New Ownership After Guilty Plea


Stag Arms, LLC of New Britain pleaded guilty Tuesday morning in Hartford's federal court to violating federal firearms laws.

In May, federal authorities investigating the local gun manufacturer confiscated more than 100 assault rifle parts from the New Britain facility after finding some 3,000 without serial numbers, which can be illegal, according to a complaint filed in federal court.

In a statement, Stag Arms' founder Mark Malkowski said he "believe that public safety was never compromised, they have agreed to enter guilty pleas and to pay significant fines, because doing so is in the best interests of the company and its employees. Mr. Malkowski has also agreed to transition the business to new ownership and is in advanced talks with a potential buyer."

Malkowski will continue as the company's marketing consultant following the sale. 

According to the complaint, agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives "discovered numerous violations of federal firearms laws and regulations" while carrying out a compliance check at Stag Arms in New Britain in July and August of 2014.

About 3,000 firearm receivers stored at 119 John Downey Drive in New Britain did not have serial numbers, the complaint alleges. At least 136 parts at 515 John Downey Drive, Stag Arms' other facility, lacked serial numbers and may have been blank for a matter of years.

Federal law requires all firearms to be stamped with serial numbers at the time they are manufactured. Without serial numbers, guns can't legally be moved from the facility where they're made.

According to the complaint, Stag Arms manufactured the parts at 119 John Downey Drive and transferred dozens to 515 John Downey Drive while they were still blank.

The owner of Stag Arms told authorities the parts lacked serial numbers because the employee tasked with stamping them was on vacation, according to the complaint. Agents went back a week later to find the serial numbers were still missing.

The ATF returned in September and confiscated some 100 parts, according to the document. Federal authorities have now issued an order compelling Stag to forfeit the confiscated guns.

'A Miracle': Community Replaces Stolen Gifts From Toy Drive


The community room at the Dixwell police substation in New Haven is once again filled with toys after the community rallied to replace gifts that were stolen over the weekend.

"Time was of the essence because Christmas is here," toy drive organizer Metashar Dillon said. "We received more than what was taken from us."

In just 24 hours, United Way of Greater New Haven raised $4 thousand for a last minute shopping spree at Walmart.

"This was just another call out to take care of your neighbors in need and a shining example is what we did today," UWGNH vice president of development Jim Travers said.

The Walmart store originally made a donation for $500 to be spent on toys and coats, Dillon said.

"In the midst of shopping they said we need to take that back and I’m looking like take it back,"Dillon said. "They said yes, because we need to change and add another zero."

New Haven Police officers dropped off bags stuffed with toys and volunteers spent the afternoon unpacking and sorting the gifts for all ages.

In the afternoon, Foxwoods Casino delivered 11 pallets of toys collected through the Tommy Toy Fund in Norwood. Yale Dining and the Yale School of Medicine also donated bags of toys.

About four thousand families are signed up for the annual toy drive out of the Dixwell community room, Dillon said. There will be an additional day for toy pick-ups on Wednesday.

"It actually made me excited to see that it was actually replaced as fast as it was and it was sad to see someone would actually steal from our children," Earlana Mundy said.

Mundy’s daughter, like many New Haven children, will still get what they have on their wish lists despite the actions of a Grinch over the weekend.

"A miracle" is how Dillon describes the community’s response.

"A miracle that happened for Christmas for New Haven," Dillon said.

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

Firefighter Accused of Stealing $125K From Woman in Court


A 17 year veteran of the New Haven Fire Department faced a judge for the first time since police arrested him for the theft of more than $125,000 from a 95-year-old woman.

The judge allowed 41-year-old Kenneth Burgos to remain out on bond, so long as he has no contact with the victim. He is charged with larceny in the first degree and tampering with a witness.

Court documents NBC Connecticut obtained detail how police say Burgos betrayed the elderly woman and depleted her bank accounts.

The elderly victim told detectives “she really trusted Burgos because he told her he was a firefighter.”

Burgos told investigators the two met when he responded to a medical emergency she was having. Police say Burgos gained her trust by doing yard work and running errands.

After six months, the victim said Burgos started telling her about family problems and financial difficulties.

The court documents state “after sometime Burgos became her power of attorney, and was ultimately able to access her accounts”

The victim told police “she believed he conned her into signing a “Will” when he took her to an attorney in East Haven and had her sign her signature on 7 or 8 pieces of paper.

While she has trouble reading, she told police “she knew based on the number of lines and pages in her statement, something was very wrong.”

Police reviewed records from four financial institutions and determined Burgos stole $125,241.46.

When police asked Burgos about the missing money, he told them “Well I have six kids.” In the court documents, Burgos told police he makes $87,000 a year.

Burgos has been on paid administrative leave since September and he is due back in court next month. His attorney had no comment for media leaving the courtroom.

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