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Gang Members: We Deserve to Be Saved, Keep Hospital Open


Gang members are among those flocking to save a South Side Chicago hospital that claims it could be forced to close for lack of funds.

Rev. Phillip Cusic, an employee at Roseland Community Hospital, said he met with nearly 20 members of the Black Disciples Monday. The group reached out to Cusic saying they want to help save the hospital because they deserve a chance to be saved.

"They said that the hospital is too important to the community and they want to be a part of the movement," Cusic said. 

Members of the Black Disciples vowed to join peace protests and publicly make their voices heard.

Cusic said he can't give an exact number of how many alleged gang members the hospital sees but said it serves "quite a few."

"They deserve a right to live," Cusic said.

Roseland Community Hospital received notice this week that it must begin moving patients within three days because of its increasing debt, officials said. The hospital reported a $2 million deficit at the end of the 2011 fiscal year.

Hospital officials said they are devastated by the moving notice and said they were expecting the state to repay them what they claim they are owed.

“I’ve seen this hospital do a lot for this community,” hospital employee Paulette Perry said. “I love my job.”

Community members, workers and union leaders protested the closure last week and rallied again Monday, saying Roseland is the only hospital within an eight-mile radius and is a lifeline to South Side residents.

“If there’s nothing here at all, period, then where are they going to go? Just lie in the street and die?" one protester said.

The Roseland Coalition, a community group, said closing the hospital would put nearly 50,000 people at risk and 600 employees could lose their jobs.

The hospital let go 60 workers two weeks ago due to the lack of funding and activists are calling on Gov. Pat Quinn to use emergency funds to save the center.

The hospital said they will stop accepting patients Wednesday and said Monday they are sending Quinn a bill once more stating they are owed $6 million from the last four years.

"It's election season," Bisop Tavis Grant of Rainbow Push said. "Do the right thing."

The governor's office said the State of Illinois does not owe Roseland the $6 million the hospital alleges and that the state has advanced all payments to Roseland for this fiscal year.

"The hospital and its board of directors have serious management issues that need to be addressed," Quinn's office said in a statement. "Roseland Hospital is in deep debt and they have mismanaged their resources into the situation they are in today."

The governor said he is concerned about Roseland's long-term viability and that top healthcare advisers from his office have met with them repeatedly over the past six weeks, including yesterday.

"We committed to work with the hospital and help them identify potential partners and available resources within the law to develop a plan for long-term sustainability," his office said in a statement. "Those discussions are ongoing. The hospital has never provided a plan or any information to move forward."

The coalition said recent closures of other area hospitals has led to a 40 percent increase in emergency room patients and that the hospital spends millions in charity care to help the uninsured.

Photo Credit: NBC Chicago

DMV Cracks Down on Unsafe Drivers


Get ready to see a lot more action on our roads.

On Tuesday, the state’s Department of Motor Vehicles launched a three-day campaign aimed at targeting unsafe truck drivers.

The program is called Roadcheck 2013 and the DMV and state police are teaming up to increase patrols on major roadways, with the goal of increasing truck safety.

“Making sure drivers are operating properly, not following too close, not speeding … wearing safety belts,” Lt. Don Bridge, of the Connecticut DMV, said.

Bridge said trucks quite often are faulty and have unsafe brakes, broken lights or busted tires.

“When [the tires] start to come apart … it starts throwing pieces in the air, and now it puts everyone in danger,” he said.

As part of the campaign, officers will stop trucks and inspect them; checking the vehicle’s equipment and drivers’ qualifications. 

“Sometimes … the driver’s under suspension, isn’t properly licensed. We find a lot of those things when we stop drivers for their behavior,” Bridge said.

Kenny Smith, who has been a truck driver for 12 years, was stopped on his way up to Massachusetts and said it’s a dangerous job.

“I might ride from here to North Carolina and not know a light is out until I get stopped,” he said.

DMV officials said trucks are involved in about 1,000 crashes each year in Connecticut.

DMV officials said Roadcheck 2013 aims to reduce that number.

“Follow the rules. As burdensome as you think they are, they are there for a reason,” Lt. Bridge said. 

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

One Dead in Bridgeport Shooting


One person is dead after a shooting in Bridgeport early Tuesday morning.

A security guard at Trumbull Gardens, a Bridgeport Housing Authority property in the North End, called police around 1 a.m. to report hearing nine gunshots.

A short time later, police received a report that a man was in the middle of the street in front of 86 Oakleaf Street, a residential street near the Trumbull town line.

Medics confirmed that the man was dead. He had been shot, police said.

His name has not been released, but officials said his car had New York license plates.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Senate Passes Budget


The Senate approved the state budget by a vote of 19-17 and now the budget will move forward to Gov. Dannel Malloy's office.

The two-year, $37.6 billion budget includes no new taxes and is in compliance with the state's spending cap guidelines.

The biennial budget  for the 2014 and 2015 years does not raise income or sales taxes, includes a sale tax exemption for clothing and shoes, expedites a phase-out of the electric generation tax and also includes a tax amnesty program.

With this budget, the current levels of municipal and education aid will remain the same.

Included in the budget is a three-cent increase to the already five-cent gas tax. The increase is expected to generate around $25 million after it is instituted on October 1.

The budget legalizes Keno, an electronic lottery game, to go in bars and restaurants outside the tribal territories. The game is expected to generate  around $30 million over the next two years, with the majority of that coming in 2015.

The budget mostly passed along party lines, with the majority of Democrats voting yes and Republicans arguing that the plan is not an honest one.

The budget was previously adopted by the House of Representatives on June 1.

Malloy is expected to sign it.


Patient Sues Over Berries Linked to Hepatitis


A Long Beach woman has filed a lawsuit after being hospitalized with hepatitis A, one of some 30 people infected in a multi-state outbreak linked to frozen berries sold at a major store chain.

Lynda Brackenridge, 51, told NBC4 that she ate the Townsend Farms organic antioxidant frozen fruit blend every morning. She bought the mix from Costco. Her lawsuit names both companies.

"There's never an excuse to have feces in food, and that's exactly what we have in this case," said her attorney, Ron Simon of Simon & Luke LLP, referring to the way the liver disease is typically spread.

At least six of the cases of the liver disease were in California. The virus was believed to be linked to Townsend Farms Organic Antioxidant Blend. Costco has removed the product from its shelves, according to the California Department of Public Health.

On Tuesday, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said Tuesday that Townsend Farms is recalling the berry blend, which is sold under the Townsend Farms label at Costco and under the Harris Teeter brand at those East Coast stores.

The recall came three days after the FDA and the federal Centers for Disease Control first announced a suspected link between the berries and the illnesses. At least 34 illnesses were reported in Colorado, New Mexico, Nevada, Arizona and California.

Attorney Bill Gaar, representing Townsend Farms of Fairview, Ore., earlier told the Associated Press that investigators appeared to be focusing on imported pomegranate seeds in the product.

The department has recommended anyone with the product at their home should throw it away. Anyone who has consumed the fruit mix in the last 14 days should contact their doctor, said the agency's director, Dr. Ron Chapman.

Symptoms of hepatitis A include fever, fatigue, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, dark urine, clay-colored bowel movements, joint pain and jaundice. Symptoms develop two to six weeks after consuming contaminated food or drink, according to the California Department of Public Health.

The potentially severe illness can last up to several months and can require hospitalization.

The illnesses have been reported since the end of April in Colorado, New Mexico, Nevada, Arizona and California.

The Associated Press contributed to this article.

Belmont: The Toughest Stop of Horse Racing's Triple Crown


John Velazquez won’t call himself an expert on Belmont Park’s grueling racetrack, but with more than 1,600 first-place finishes there—the most of any active jockey—he clearly knows its demands.

Belmont's 1 1-2 mile dirt track is the longest of its kind in the United States, and the last stop in the Triple Crown series after the 1 1-4 mile Kentucky Derby and the 1 3-16 mile Preakness Stakes. Velazquez, who won the Belmont Stakes in 2007 and 2012, has seen countless jockeys get too aggressive on the backstretch, only to have their horses fade in the final sprint.

“A lot of people get really confused,” Velazquez said. “People who come to New York and have never ridden a mile and a half have to do their homework and be aware.”

That is why the Belmont Stakes—to be held June 8—is considered the most demanding of the Triple Crown races, and a main reason why so few horses have managed to win all three.

“Thirteen of the last 15 Belmonts have been won by a horse who didn’t win either of the other Triple Crown races,” said Ed Bowen, a racing historian and journalist. “That’s a great illustration of how tough it is. That’s why they call it the ‘Test of the Champion.’ There’s nothing comparable in this country.”

Velazquez, 41, who has raced at Belmont throughout his entire Hall of Fame career, exhibited his mastery of the track at last year’s running. Velazquez held his horse, Union Rags, in the middle of the pack, then squeezed through an opening along the inside rail and out-dashed Paynter for a photo-finish victory.

“Experience counts for a lot,” Velazquez said as he recalled that 2012 race recently. “Having been here so so many years helped me.”

He stressed that there are always a myriad of other factors that play into a winning race. But at Belmont, the unusual length makes those variables more difficult to analyze.

“The length is difficult not only for your horse,” Velazquez said. “You have to do your homework on the other horses as well—which horses can handle the distance, who’ll lead, who’ll be in the pack, who’ll hang back.”

Velazquez will be back at the track on June 8, where he'll ride Todd Pletcher-trained Overanalyze in the Belmont Stakes.

Many of his competitors will be riding at Belmont for the first time in the 2013 season. But he’s not taking his prior success for granted. He never does.

“I’ve been very fortunate, but I do my homework,” Velazquez said.

And the work is always harder at Belmont.

Photo Credit: Getty Images

Second Arrest in Bristol Murder


Police have made a second arrest in a murder at 81 Locust Street in Bristol on August 15, 2010.

Jose Cruz-Diaz, 22, was killed in front of his apartment. Police said he had been shot several times.

On Tuesday, police arrested Christian Bonilla 23, of in Bristol, at his place of employment in Southington, police said.

He is being charged with capital felony murder, murder and conspiracy to commit murder.

Bail has been set at $5 million and Bonilla will be arraigned in Bristol Superior Court on June 5.

On Feb. 20, Gilberto O Marrero-Alejandro was convicted of murder and sentenced in May to 60 years in prison.

Photo Credit: Bristol Police

Man Charged With Woman's Murder in New Haven


New Haven police have charged a 35-year-old city man with murder after finding a woman's body in a burning apartment yesterday.

At 1:51 a.m. on Monday, New Haven police responded to a report of a domestic incident at 161 Whalley Avenue and found flames and smoke pouring from building, so they called in the fire department.

Firefighters traced the smoke to a fire burning in the third-floor apartment, knocked down the apartment door, extinguished the fire and found the body of Georgette Alston, 31.

Police said Frank Moore, 35, who lived at 161 Whalley Avenue with Alston, approached police and was arrested and charged with first degree assault.

On Tuesday, he was charged with murder.

 Moore has an extensive criminal background, police said.

Photo Credit: New Haven Police and NBCConnecticut.com

State's Attorney: No Arrest in Incident Involving New Canaan Cop


The State's Attorney's Office has reviewed the case of a New Canaan police accused in a physical altercation at Tequila Mockingbird Restaurant in New Canaan while off-duty on Feb. 23 and determined that there will be no arrests.

Police said someone went to the New Canaan police department at 11:45 p.m. on Feb. 23 and reported being involved in a physical altercation with Lieutenant Frederick Pickering, an off-duty New Canaan Police Officer, at the restaurant at 6 Forest St.

The complainants also told police that someone in the group with Pickering used racially offensive language. 

Pickering was placed on administrative leave in March, according to New Canaan Police, and the department is conducting an internal investigation.

“After a thorough review of all the evidence presented, I have concluded that there is insufficient evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that any specific person has committed a crime," State's Attorney David Cohen said in a statement released by New Canaan Police.


Photo Credit: NBC Philadelphia

Suspicious Package Linked to Bank Robbery Suspect


A bank robbery suspect made claims he placed two explosive devices in Hamden and New Haven on Tuesday, according to police.

Robert Raymond is suspected of first robbing the First Niagara Bank, 1248 Dixwell Ave., Hamden and then robbing the Webster Bank at 5 Helen St., according to police.

Police said Raymond entered the First Niagara and handed the teller a note demanding money.

The note indicated that he was in possession of a bomb and the bank teller gave him an undisclosed amount of money.

Raymond then walked to the nearby Webster Bank and again gave the teller a note that had information about a bomb, according to police, and Raymond left the bank after getting an undisclosed amount of money.

A Hamden officer who was responding to the First Niagara robbery spotted Raymond, 67, surrounded by a large cloud of smoke caused by the dye pack and arrested him.

As police searched Raymond, he told police that he had planted a fake bomb in front of the Federal Courthouse in New Haven, police said.

The New Haven Police and F.B.I. immediately responded to the area of Orange Street and closed the road as bomb technicians investigated the package.  

People in the Hall of Records on Orange Street were told to stay away from windows while police investigated, but the building was not evacuated.

Bomb squad technicians "disrupted" the package, but determined it was not an explosive device, New Haven Officer David Hartman said.

Orange Street was reopened around 5:30 p.m.

During the investigation , police learned that Raymond and his girlfriend might have been staying at the America Best Value Inn in Branford. Branford Police, CT State Police and the F.B.I evacuated the inn and investigated. There was no bomb making materials found.

Raymond, of 109 Augur St., was charged with two counts of robbery in the first degree, two counts of larceny in the second degree and two counts of breach of peace in the first degree.

Raymond is being held on $500,000 bond and will appear in Meriden court on Wednesday.

Photo Credit: Hamden Police

Gay Teens Voted "Cutest Couple" at NY High School


A same-sex couple in Putnam County was voted "cutest couple" by fellow students — a first for the New York high school.
"I think it speaks to the supportive atmosphere of the school. They feel comfortable and safe," Carmel High School Principal Kevin Carroll tells NBC 4 New York. 
Brad Taylor and Dylan Meehan started dating about a year ago when their mutual friend, Kirsten Sweeny, set them up, the teens said. 
"As soon as we said the first words, 'we are together,' after that, it wasn't that big of a deal," Meehan tells NBC 4 New York. 
The teen romance has inspired supporters from around the country.
A friend of the couple posted a picture of Taylor and Meehan on Tumblr. The photo has been seen by more than 100,000 people, with mostly positive comments. 
"People they don’t even know have been coming up and telling them how happy they are,” Sweeny said.
This fall, both teens plan to attend NYU.

Convicted Meriden Police Officer Resigns


A Meriden police officer found guilty on Monday in a case of police brutality has resigned, according to Meriden's personnel department.

On Monday, Meriden Police Officer Evan Cossette was found guilty of using unreasonable force against Pedro Temich and obstruction of justice by lying in his police report about it.

On Tuesday morning, he notified the personnel department that he was resigning.

"Our system of justice cannot tolerate abuses by police officers, and today's verdict helps preserve the integrity of a profession that is entrusted with protecting our liberties as well as our safety," said Deirdre Daly, Acting U.S. Attorney in Connecticut.

Cossette, 26, took the stand in his own defense last Friday and said he did not mean to injure Temich when placing him in a holding cell on May 1, 2010.

Cossette testified that he felt threatened by Temich.

"He tightened up his body; he dropped his head, and I thought he was coming at me," Cossette said during his testimony on Friday.

Cossette is scheduled to sentenced on August 28 and faces a maximum of 30 years in prison.

"As law enforcement officers, we are measured by a higher standard because we are both sworn and privileged to uphold the United States Constitution," said FBI Special Agent in Charge, Kimberly Mertz.  We must meet that standard with unfailing integrity and honor.  Those who cannot meet that essential standard should not be wearing a badge."

Clock Ticking on Newtown Records Bill


In the final days of the legislative session, families who lost loved ones inside Sandy Hook Elementary are trying to persuade state lawmakers to vote for a bill which would block the release of crime scene photos.

"I am hopeful they will be able to work it out because as a parent this is already incredibly painful," said Nelba Marquez-Greene, whose 6-year-old daughter Ana died in the massacre.

The Greenes and other families were at the State Capitol on Tuesday.

The bill, which has been criticized for being put together in secret, is still being crafted. The legislation will not block 911 calls from being made public, but it will block crime scene photos.

"Primarily, we're trying to exclude the photographs of the victims from being disclosed to the public," said Sen. John McKinney, who represents Newtown. "I think right now we're not looking at 911 calls."

Sen. McKinney also indicated that the bill could also include all crimes, not just the mass shooting at Sandy Hook.

The families are concerned if the grisly photos of their loved ones are made public, they could wind up on the Internet.

"We deserve the right as parents to remember Ana as we wish to remember her, without those grisly images out there," Greene said.

Getting the support of fellow lawmakers has not been easy. Some have told NBC Connecticut that they won't vote for the bill because it erodes the Freedom of Information Law.

There are also concerns about the secretive process. The bill did not go through the normal public hearing process.

"I think everyone understands and sympathizes with the situation but there needs to be some public comment and debate," Colleen Murphy, FOI Commission Executive Director, said.

The state's FOI Commission said there are reasons why police records are made public.

"We want to make sure police response was appropriate, and we can judge for ourselves what happened," Murphy said.

The Greene family said they are satisfied with how police responded. They say the photos will only traumatize their family.

Gov. Dannel Malloy supports the move to keep photos sealed. 
Lawmakers have just one day left to get the bill through both the Senate and House.
The police investigation into the Sandy Hook shooting won't be complete until late summer or early fall.

Photo Credit: AFP/Getty Images

Porn Star in Jail for Exposing Co-Stars to Syphilis


A male porn star convicted of knowingly exposing at least two co-stars to syphilis was sentenced to 30 days in jail Tuesday, according to the Los Angeles City Attorney's office.

Jesse Spencer, 42, pleaded no contest to exposing another to a communicable disease. The pornographic actor, whose industry name is "Mr. Marcus," was also sentenced to three years of probation and 15 days of community labor.

He had reportedly tested positive for the sexually transmitted disease days before exposing his fellow actors, according to the city attorney.

Spencer was arrested May 22 on an unrelated DUI case, authorities said.

On July 13, 2012, Spencer went through STD testing required in the porn industry. He received a shot of penicillin after testing positive for syphilis.

He still tested positive about a week later but altered a document to hide the positive syphilis test results, according to the city attorney's office.

He filmed sex scenes with two actresses on July 24 and July 26. The actresses filed a police report after a producer noticed signs of alteration on Spencer's STD-testing form, authorities said.

Neither of the actresses contracted the disease, according to the city attorney.

“The potential spread of syphilis and other communicable diseases is a serious threat to our entire community,” said City Attorney Carmen Trutanich in a prepared statement. “My office will continue to hold accountable those who place the health and welfare of others in danger in such a reckless and thoughtless manner.”

Syphilis is a bacterial infection that is relatively easy to treat in early stages but can, if left untreated for years, cause dementia, paralysis and death, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

As Mr. Marcus, Spencer has appeared in 951 titles dating back to 1994, when he debuted in "Butts of Steel," according to the Internet Movie Database. He went on to star in "The World's Luckiest Black Man" in 1996, in which he purportedly had sex with 100 different women.

Some of his more recent titles include "The Babysitter 5," "Father Figure" and "My Girlfriend's Mother 3."

Photo Credit: Getty

Newtown Education Budget Passes



The Newtown education budget passed tonight after the third vote.
The budget passed 3259-2078,  according to Newtown Legislative Jeff Capeci.
In the second referendum vote, the budget failed by a count of 2407-2355, a mere 52 votes. The proposed town budget passed 2508-2262 and is now finalized.
The education budget is now $71 million. The budget first failed at referendum on April 23.
The legislative council revised the budget at an April 30th meeting, reducing the increases by $750,000.
The town was also asked if they felt the education budget was too low, to which they responded no by a vote of 3290 to 1816.
The legislative council will set the mill rate at their meeting on the June 19.



Crashes Slowed Traffic on Putnam Bridge


Two crashes affected traffic on the Putnam Bridge between Glastonbury and Wethersfield this morning.

The left lane was closed on Route 3 South, according to the state Department of Transportation.

The right lane of Route 3 North was also closed.

The backups were extensive.

Photo Credit: Submitted by Jenna Szestakow

Two Dead in Woodbury Crash


Two men were killed in a fiery crash on Route 317 in Woodbury on Tuesday night.

Police, firefighters and EMS responded to a report of a car fire and crash on Route 317 at 10:30 p.m. and found a 2003 Volkswagen Jetta.

State police said Nicholas Aleia, 19, of Bethlehem, was driving when the car spun out of control and caught fire.

Aleia, and the passenger, David Metcalf, 21, of Woodbury, were trapped in the car and died at the scene, police said. 

Aleia and Metcalf both attended Nonnewaug High School in Woodbury. Metcalf graduated in 2009 and Aleia graduated in 2012, according to Principal Andrew O'Brien.

Police are investigating and ask anyone with information to call Trooper Slaiby at Troop L at 860-626-7900, extension 5029. 

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Track Inspection Found Problems Before Train Crash


The National Transportation Safety Board has released a preliminary report on the Metro-North train crash and derailment in Bridgeport on May 17 and it says damage estimates are around $18 million. It also says a track inspection conducted two days before the crash revealed “inadequate supporting ballast” in the area of the derailment.

Seventy three passengers, two engineers and a conductor were injured when two Metro North trains collided at 6:01 p.m. on Friday, May 17.

An eastbound Metro-North train traveling from Grand Central Station in New York to New Haven derailed on track 4, near milepost 53.3, and was struck by a westbound Metro North train heading from New Haven toward Grand Central Station, according to NTSB.

The track on the New Haven line is visually inspected three times per week and an inspection done on May 15 found an “insulated rail joint with inadequate supporting ballast and indications of vertical movement of the track system under load at catenary No. 734 on track 4 near MP53.3,” according to the NTSB.

The preliminary indications are that the derailment happened in that location, near milepost 53.3.

Investigators took sections of rail to the NTSB materials laboratory in Washington, DC for further examination.

NTSB previously said inspection reports revealed that Metro-North personnel in April repaired a joint bar, used to join two sections of rail together, the month before the crash.

The estimates that put the damage at $18 million are from Metro-North, according to the NTSB.


Crash Closed Roads in Southington


Southington police asked drivers to avoid Route 10, or Main Street, between Bristol and Maple streets because of a crash this morning, but the detours have been removed.

Carter Lane was also closed between Main Street and Old Turnpike Road as police investigate.

Police said there are injuries. The extent of them is not known.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Waterford Road Remains Closed After Crash


Chapman Road in Waterford remains closed after a car hit a utility pole this morning. When it will reopen is not known. 

The crash took down wires down and power was out in the area. Power has been restored.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com
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