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Cold Start to 2013


The first day back to work for many across Connecticut is a cold one.

The high temperature for today is around 30, but residents in several towns woke to weather in the teens.

Keep up on the forecast here.

Daredevils Plunge Into Bone-Chilling Waters for a Good Cause


The hundreds of participants in this year’s Polar Bear Plunges weren’t just dipping into the bone-chilling surf to seek some thrills. They were also doing it for a good cause.

For the annual New Year's Day event, brave souls charged into icy waters all across the United States — from the Jersey Shore and New York City's Coney Island to the less wintry beaches of Southern California.

But this year, the plunges held a special significance for hardy swimmers at New York and New Jersey beaches, many of them hard-hit by Superstorm Sandy last year, and many of the plunges raised money to help victims of the hurricane's devastation.

"This is something I’ve done a couple years anyway just for the sake of doing it," Thomas Pirrone of Sicklerville, N.J., told NBC 10 Philadelphia on the beach in Ocean City, N.J. "Why not do it for a good cause?"

Swimmers nationwide took to their nearest ocean, lake, river or even swimming pool Tuesday — some for charity, some still just for the sake of doing it.

Pittsburgh swimmers took to the Monongahela River, Cleveland residents jumped in 38-degree Lake Erie, and San Franciscans ran into the frigid Pacific Ocean, as did Californians in the warmer climes of La Jolla, NBC 7 San Diego reported.

In the Dallas suburb of Frisco, Texas, families supporting a scholarship fund made do with a swimming pool chilled with ice cubes, NBC 5 DFW reported.

Polar Bear club members and others were raising money for Sandy relief efforts at Coney Island in New York, according to NBC 4 New York. In Ocean City, members of the Wish Upon a Hero Foundation, which has provided assistance to South Jersey victims of Sandy, ran into the surf, too.

"They sent us clothes within a few days and made sure we got back on our feet," said Ken Murphy, a Superstorm Sandy victim.

Other charities were well-represented, too. In Atlantic City, close to 200 people sprinted into the water to help the AC Polar Bear Club raise more than $2,000 for the Multiple Sclerosis Association of America.

"It’s more than I expected, it’s absolutely terrific," said Dale Raesly of Levittown, N.J. "Everybody should come out here and support this cause!"

In Coney Island, the Ice Breakers tried to raise awareness of water pollution, and the Polar Bear Club in Brigantine, N.J., where many people were impacted by Sandy, supported Fisher House, which provides transportation and housing to the families of wounded military members.

"We might have lost our personal items and our personal things," said John Hand, a Brigantine plunge organizer. "But we still have our arms and legs. Right now what we’re doing is for our soldiers, our men and women overseas."

The location for this year’s plunge in Brigantine had to be changed, since the beach where they normally held the event doesn’t exist anymore due to Sandy.

"From this storm, there’s no seawall left," said Hand.

But the thrills and chills remained the same in the new location, providing a fun-filled kickoff to 2013 and hope for better things to come this year.

"It’s got to be a better year," said Billy Bryan of Brigantine. "Let’s hope so. For everybody."

Photo Credit: NBC10.com

Man Accused of Giving Teen Booze, Asking Her to Lie About Crash


South Windsor police have arrested a 42-year-old man accused of giving a teen alcohol and asking her to cover for him when he hit a utility pole, according to police.

Gary Guerrette, 42, of Enfield, has been charged in connection with a crash in October on Rye Street  

Police said a car hit and broke a telephone pole.

Guerrette and a 19-year-old girl who was in the car were injured and transported to Hartford Hospital, police said. 

The investigating officer learned that Guerrette had purchased and supplied alcohol to his 19-year-old passenger and encouraged her to tell officers that she was driving the car at the time of the crash, police said.

Police arrested Guerrette on Dec. 28 and charged him with interfering with an officer, permitting a minor to possess alcohol and false statement in the second degree. 

He was released on a $5.000 non-surety bond and is scheduled to appear at Manchester Superior Court on Jan. 10.   

Citgo in Manchester Robbed


Manchester police are investigating an armed robbery at the Citgo gas station located at 555 West Middle Turnpike and trying to determine if it is connected with other robberies.

A man wearing a two-piece jumpsuit and a black ski mask, holding something believed to be a handgun, robbed the gas station around 8:30 p.m. on New Year’s Day, according to police.

There were also similar robberies in Vernon and East Hartford with a similar suspect description, so police are trying to determine if the same person is responsible for all the burglaries.

School Van Crash Closes Route 9 Ramp


Route 9 North on-ramp was closed at exit 29 in New Britain after a crash involving a wheelchair van used to transport students.

A wheelchair company operates the van, which rolled over around 9 a.m. It does not appear that students were in the van when the crash happened.

Police said there do not appear to be any injuries.

The van has been removed from the scene.

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

All's Quiet on the Jets Front


Since the end of the NFL regular season, we've heard a lot from 31 of the teams around the NFL. 

We've heard from teams going to the playoffs as well as those who are making tee times, fired coaches and those who escaped the ax have both shared their thoughts and owners have given postmortems on the season all over the country. The only team that hasn't bothered to face the media firing squad is the one team that normally won't shut up.

That's right, boys and girls, the Jets' resolution for the new year is apparently to stop filling every available inch of space with the noise that has become synonymous with the team since Rex Ryan became the coach. There was the statement Monday firing general manager Mike Tannenbaum and announcing that Rex Ryan remained as coach, but not a peep since then and they've already announced that neither Ryan nor Woody Johnson will be speaking on Wednesday. 

On the one hand, it's pretty sad that the Jets can't just stand up and explain their decision the way every other team that let someone go on Black Monday has managed to do in the last few days. Ryan's long been a proponent that players, coaches and everyone else are free to talk as much as they want about anything they want, so it is hard to understand his refusal to talk now although we'll leave open the possibility that the Jets have told him to keep his trap shut. 

Still, it's odd that the king of oversharing has decided to hide at the most trying crossroads of his career. It allows all kinds of speculation to run roughshod, including the reasonable conclusion that Ryan's job isn't as secure as it was made to be in Johnson's initial statement.

On the other hand, though, what more do we really need to hear from the Jets this year? Does anyone actually need a detailed explanation of the reasons why Tannenbaum was relieved of his duties? 

Just look at the roster, the recent drafts and the lack of salary cap space to get all the explanation you need on that front. After a full season of ridiculous Tim Tebow commentary and clueless explanations of myriad problems, a little silence is golden. 

Yes, it would be nice to have some confirmation that the team will find a more competent offensive coordinator than Tony Sparano, but this is better than their fraudulent claims that Brian Schottenheimer would return last year before finally firing him when he didn't get a head coaching job that everyone knew he wasn't going to get. 

It's a bit reassuring to think that the Jets are actually concentrating on football decisions rather than the PR concerns that always seem to be their main concern. They might not be doing that, although the general manager interview process is moving along while the Jets put up their silent front. 

Until that person is hired and until we know how Ryan's future will be handled with a new G.M. who has no ties to him, there's not really much more to say than the Jets have already said this season. In the end, it's just like our mother told us so many years ago. 

If you don't have anything nice to say, it's better not to say anything at all. 

Josh Alper is also a writer for Pro Football Talk. You can follow him on Twitter.

Photo Credit: Getty Images

Son of Clippers Owner Found Dead of "Apparent Drug Overdose"


The body of Scott Sterling, son of Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling, was found late Tuesday at the family's beachfront home in Malibu.

Homicide detectives responded to the Pacific Coast Highway home at about 11:30 p.m. after receiving a call for a welfare check at Malibu Beach Villas. The caller told responding Los Angeles County Sheriff's deputies he had not heard from Scott Sterling, 32, for "several days."

Sterling was pronounced dead at the location, but a cause of death was not immediately available from the coroner's office. Sterling died of an "apparent drug overdose," according to the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department and Coroner's Office.

A coroner's van was at the residence early Wednesday, and an autopsy will be conducted before an official cause of death is determined.

The autopsy probably will not be conducted until Thursday or Friday, coroner's officials said.

Donald Sterling, who acquired the Clippers in 1981, is among the longest-tenured NBA owners. The team was located in San Diego at the time, and Sterling relocated the franchise to Los Angeles in 1984. 

Sterling has homes in Malibu and Beverly Hills, according to the Clippers web site. Police interviewed Scott Sterling after responding to the Beverly Hills home in 1999 for a report of a shooting, but prosecutors did not file charges.

Photo Credit: Getty

Restaurant Staff to Donate Tips to Sandy Hook Fund


Diners at the Cheesecake Factory in Danbury and West Hartford will be helping the families affected by the Sandy Hook Elementary School tragedy.

All wait staff, bartenders and busboys at the two restaurants will donate 100-percent of their tips earned today to the Sandy Hook Elementary School Fund . The company will match the amount raised at both locations.

The fund, which is being handled by the United Way, will help provide services to the families who lost loved ones and others within the community who were affected by the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary.

Babysitter Charged With Sex Assault


A 61-year-old Westport man has been arrested, accused of sexually abusing a child he was babysitting at his home.

On Dec. 26, Westport police received a complaint from Department of Children and Families about allegations of a suspected child sexual abuse case and began investigating.

On Monday, Dec. 31, Westport police executed an arrest and search warrant for Victor Corso at his Hillandale residence in Westport.

Corso was charged with risk of injury to a child and sexual assault in the fourth degree. He was unable to post $150,000 bond and was held at the Westport Police Department.

He will be arraigned at Norwalk Superior Court on Wednesday. 


Home Invasion Reported in West Hartford


Police are investigating a reported home invasion on Chesterfield Lane in West Hartford on Wednesday morning.

Someone called police to report a possible home invasion at the nearly million-dollar home at 1:15 a.m.

When police arrived, they found three residents who had locked themselves into different rooms in the house, verified their safety, and secured the scene.

Based on information from the residents, three people entered the home, stole items, then fled, police said. One of them displayed a handgun.

Police said the intruders were in the house for around five minutes before leaving and no residents were injured.

The residence was targeted, according to police, and it does not appear to be random.


Photo Credit: Steve Miller, NBC Connecticut

Energy Drinks Offer Little Benefit Besides Caffeine Boost: Report


Bad news for energy drink lovers.

Scientists say that aside from caffeine, energy drinks like Red Bull, Monster Energy and 5-Hour Energy provide little or no added benefit for consumers, according to a report by The New York Times. In fact, one researcher said the same effect on metabolism can be achieved through drinking a cup of coffee.

The latest findings are contrary to energy drink company claims that their beverages are engineered to do something more. Red Bull’s producers claimed that their drink “gives you wings,” and Monster Energy dubbed its drink a “killer energy brew.” These messages have allowed the drink makers to charge a premium for their caffeine concoctions, which helped drive sales to over $10 billion in 2012. A 16-ounce can of energy that sells for $2.99 has the same amount of caffeine as a NoDoz tablet that costs 30 cents.

“These are caffeine delivery systems,” said Dr. Roland Griffiths, a researcher at Johns Hopkins University told the Times. “They don’t want to say this is equivalent to a NoDoz because that is not a very sexy sales message.”

Energy drink makers like Rockstar Energy and 5-Hour Energy pack in ingredients like B vitamins that offer little benefit to drinkers, as most healthy people get adequate amounts of it from food, according to scientists. The Times report homed in on two other ingredients commonly found in energy drinks, glucuronolactone and taurine, and said their health benefits are not backed by science. The use of glucuronolactone is especially puzzling to scientists. One scientific journal, Nutrition Reviews, even admitted that they were clueless as to why glucuronolactone is used.

“Certainly, this is one ingredient for which evidence-based studies are needed to justify its popularity,” wrote the researchers.

Drink manufacturers claim that it is their proprietary formula and not a specific ingredient that gives consumers the physical and mental edge. Scientists say, however, any perceived increase in energy comes from the sugar and the concentrated levels of caffeine. And since the drinks are typically swallowed quickly, the caffeine kicks in faster.

The energy drink industry has come under scrutiny recently by the Food and Drug Administration after reports of illness or death of people who consumed their beverages. In November, the FDA announced that they received reports of 13 deaths over the last four years that are possibly related to 5-Hour Energy. The month before, the FDA looked into reports of five deaths of people who drank Monster Energy.

Photo Credit: Getty Images

Breakfast to Benefit Newtown Memorial Fund


On Sunday, Jan. 6, you can help grow the Newtown Memorial Fund by having breakfast at Applebee's.

Applebee’s restaurants throughout Connecticut and one Applebee’s restaurant in Brewster, New York, will host a fund-raiser breakfast during which 100 percent of proceeds will benefit the Newtown Memorial Fund.

Tickets are available for $8 each at the following locations. The breakfast will include pancakes, bacon, orange juice, coffee and tea.

  • Applebee's-Federal Road, 57 Federal Road, Danbury
  • Applebee’s-Groton, 350 Long Hill Road, Groton
  • Applebee’s-Manchester, 191 Deming St., Manchester
  • Applebee’s-Orange, 526 Boston Post Road, Orange
  • Applebee’s-Plainville, 270 New Britain Ave., Plainville
  • Applebee’s-Torrington, 1690 E. Main St., Torrington
  • Applebee’s-Mansfield, 93 Storrs Road, Willimantic
  • Applebee’s-Brewster, 115 Independent Way, Brewster, NY, 10509

Photo Credit: Getty Images

Amtrak Travel Delayed After Massachusetts Train Fatality


A person has died after being hit by an Acela train in Attleboro, Massachusetts and Amtrak has temporarily suspend travel in the surrounding areas, including trains into Connecticut.

Two tracks into Connecticut were closed for 90 minutes. One has reopened, but there are residual delays.

According to the Boston Globe, the train crash happened near Newport Avenue and the South Attleboro train station and the train was traveling from  Washington, DC. Around 200 people were onboard.

No trains have been canceled.

Students, Teachers Protest Closing of Sawyer Schools


Students and teachers gathered outside the Sawyer School in Hartford on Wednesday morning, angry over the school’s sudden closure during holiday break.

Students and teachers are frustrated with the lack of answers coming from Academic Enterprises, Inc., the Rhode Island company that runs the Sawyer Schools in both Hartford and Hamden, as well as the Butler Business School in Bridgeport, all of which have shut their doors, kicking a total of 1,200 students out of class. 

“I was ready to graduate and then they closed the school,” complained Charlene Brimage, who was trying to get her degree in business.

“I was three classes away from going out on externship and graduating in April,” Arelis Quinones said.

“Our schedules were already out.  We were already scheduled for classes,” Don Lanier, an instructor, said.

Some students received a letter telling them class was out permanently, while others heard through social media.

The instructors, including Lanier, received a call from their supervisor over the holidays reporting that classes would not resume this week as scheduled.

“We have no answers about anything,” Lanier said.

The Office of Higher Education addressed the abrupt closing in a statement saying they “received a brief email on December 30, 2012 from Academic Enterprises Inc., stating that the schools have 'suspended' operations.'"

The statement also urges students impacted by the closure to contact the Office of Higher Education for assistance.

"We encourage all impacted students to register with our office so that we may learn of their status and help answer their questions about finishing their coursework and obtaining potential tuition reimbursements,” said Jane A. Ciarlegio, executive director of the Office of Higher Education.

Connecticut General Statutes prescribe procedures for schools to follow in the event of closing.  Schools are required to notify the Office of Higher Education at least 60 days before closing.  The notification gives agency officials time to work with school representatives to assure an orderly transition and cessation of business.  Both Sawyer Schools and the Butler Business School allegedly violated this requirement.

How the schools will be punished, if at all, following the state’s investigation, remains to be seen.


Photo Credit: Todd Piro

Man Charged With Illegal Gun Possession After Threat: Police


Farmington police have charged Torrington a man with threatening, breach of peace and possession of an assault weapon after police received a call reporting that Robert Zordan threatened to shoot coworkers.

A colleague told police that Zordan, 53, became angry at work and left, police said.

When the friend called Zordan him to find out if he was OK, Zordan allegedly threatened to shoot people at work with his .40 caliber weapon.

He told his friend he would not shoot him and asked if there was anyone the friend wanted him to shoot, police said.

Officers seized several guns at Zordan’s house including an illegally possessed assault rifle, police said. 

He was charged with breach of peace, possession of an assault weapon and threatening.

He turned himself in on a warrant and posted bond.

Package Sent to Hartford OB/GYN Clinic Not Dangerous: Cops


A suspicious package delivered to at Hartford OB/GYN clinic has been deemed to be not hazardous.

The Hartford Police Bomb Squad and the FBI responded to the Hartford GYN Center at 1 Main Street Wednesday afternoon.

The package was delivered to the office by the U.S. Postal Service around 2 p.m., police said.

The building was evacuated.

It was not clear why the package raised suspicions.

5 Finalists Announced for East Haven Police Chief


The names of the five finalists for the chief of the East Haven Police Department have been released.

East Haven Mayor Joseph Maturo Jr. released the list, which includes Jamie Fields, Brent Larrabee, Maurice Richards, James M. Viadero and Edward Welch. 

There were nearly 100 applications and the pool was narrowed to 11 semi-finalists. A selection committee then interviewed the 11 semi-finalists and recommended five finalists to the mayor.  

Each of the finalists will have the opportunity to interview with Maturo shortly after the New Year and the mayor will make his decision.

“Five highly-experienced candidates clearly made it to the top of the list during this process. I look forward to announcing the leader for the East Haven Police Department by mid-January,” Maturo said.

Former Chief Leonard Gallo retired last year amid a federal probe into racial profiling allegations.

Larrabee, the former Stamford police chief, was named acting chief after Gallo left.

The Department of Justice recommended an independent search firm and community input in the process and Maturo sought out Strategic Policy Partnership, LLC, to facilitate the search for a new chief. 

“To improve the integrity of the search process and to establish a more collaborative relationship with the Department of Justice, the Town sought suggestions from the DOJ regarding the search.  The Town incorporated most of those suggestions into its search plans and we are pleased that the DOJ has since been satisfied with the search,” Maturo said.

Jamie Fields is an adjunct professor at Wayne State University.  He was formerly a Deputy Chief of the Detroit Police Department and commanding officer of risk management, labor relations, legal affairs and consent judgment compliance activities for the department.  He joined the Detroit Police Department in 1975, rising through the ranks before retiring in 2010.  He holds a J. D. degree and is a member of the Michigan Bar Association, NAACP, and a past member of the Center for Law Enforcement Ethics.

In 2010, he was up for chief of police in Dallas, Albany, New York  Lakeland, Florida  and Baton Rouge, Louisiana, according to reports.

James Viadero is a captain with the Bridgeport Police Department in Connecticut and Commander of the Detective Division.  He joined the department in 1985 and rose through the ranks.  He is also a Professor at Sacred Heart University and a graduate of the Senior Management Institute of the Police Executive Research Forum, as well as the FBI National Academy.  He holds a B.A. degree in Criminal Justice, Magna Cum Laude from Sacred Heart University.  He is a fluent Spanish speaker.

Edward J. Welch is director of Strategic Initiatives for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey Police Departments.  Previously he served as Chief of Police of the New York City Department of Environmental Protection Police.  He has served as supervisor in the New York City Police Department (NYPD).  He holds a Master’s Degree from the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, City University of New York in Justice Administration and is a candidate for a Master’s Degree in Security Studies from the U.S. Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California. Welch was also a finalist for the Albany chief of police job. http://blog.timesunion.com/crime/category/albany/page/14/

Brent B. Larrabee is the interim Chief of Police in East Haven, Connecticut.  He previously served as a Police Officer in Framingham, Massachusetts, rising through the ranks to Chief of Police, a position which he held for 14 years.  He served as Interim Chief of Police in Westwood, Massachusetts and as Chief of Police in Stamford, Connecticut from 2005 to 2010, working with now-Governor Malloy.  He served as a technical assistant for the U.S. Department of Justice to the Nigerian Police Force (Africa) and is a life member of the International Association of Chiefs of Police.  He holds a Master’s in Public Administration from Framingham State University and a B. S. Degree (with honors) from Northeastern University.

Maurice Richards is a Lieutenant of Police with the Chicago Police Department where he is a Watch Commander of the 4th District, having responsibility for 125 police officers.  He has been with the Chicago Police Department for 21 years.  He holds a Doctor of Education degree from Northern Illinois University, a Masters of Criminal Justice degree from Chicago University, a Masters of Public Administration degree from Governor’s State University, and a B.A. Degree from Chicago State University.  He is a graduate of the Senior Management Institute of the Police Executive Research Forum. In 2012, Richards interviewed for the chief of police job in St. Cloud. Minnesota.


Photo Credit: AP

Clinton Leaves Hospital After Blood Clot Treatment


Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has left the New York hospital where she was being treated for a blood clot in her head.

Clinton was discharged from New York Presbyterian Hospital on Wednesday evening, according to a statement from Philippe Reines, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State.

"Her medical team advised her that she is making good progress on all fronts, and they are confident she will make a full recovery," Reines wrote. "She's eager to get back to the office, and we will keep you updated on her schedule as it becomes clearer in the coming days."

Her daughter, Chelsea Clinton, tweeted her gratitude to the nurses and staff at the hospital "for taking great care of my Mom."

Earlier in the afternoon, the State Department said, she was speaking with her staff and reviewed paperwork while she continued her recovery.

State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland says Clinton has been "quite active" on the phone Wednesday with State Department aides. She says doctors will continue to monitor her progress.

Clinton was admitted to the hospital Sunday and is being treated with blood thinners to dissolve a clot in the vein behind the right ear. Doctors found the clot during a follow-up exam stemming from a concussion she suffered in early December.

Clinton's doctors say there was no neurological damage and that she did not suffer a stroke.

In a statement released Monday, her doctors indicated she was being treated with blood thinners and that she would be discharged once the proper dose to dissolve the clot had been established.

Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Photo Credit: AP

Five Hurt in Tubing Accident


Five people were hospitalized after a tubing accident at Woodbury Ski Area Tuesday.

A group of six friends were being towed up the mountain on an inner tube when is somehow broke free from the cable.

"It just went backwards once it became dislodged," said one of the riders, who did not want to be identified.

The tube slammed into the base of the lift at the bottom of the hill, injuring five of the riders, according to witnesses. The victims were taken to the hospital, some to Waterbury Hospital, the others to St. Mary's Hospital in Waterbury. Two of the victims remained hospitalized Wednesday night with serious injuries.

The riders ranged in age from 19 to 35.

According to some of the victims, the staff at the ski resort yelled at them while they tended to their injured friends. NBC Connecticut contacted the Woodbury Ski Area, but no one would comment on the accident.

OSHA and several other agencies are investigating the accident.

Group Asks Parents to Turn In Violent Video Games


A Southington group will hold a violent video game return program in the wake of the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

Southington S.O.S., which stands for Southington Offers Service, is made up of town, school and emergency officials, as well as local business owners and the leaders of youth services programs.

The group is asking parents to hand in violent video games and movies Jan. 12.

"We're concerned about our kids getting desensitized," said John Meyers, executive director of the Southington YMCA. "Desensitized to violence and desensitized to other risky behavior."

Meyers hopes parents talk to their children about the violence portrayed in the video games.

"Ideally what will take place is we'll be encouraging parents to have what we call a courageous conversation with their child," he said.

The return will be held Jan. 12 from 9 a.m. to noon at the Southington Drive-In.

"If we have one violent video game returned, we're going to be applauding," said Dr. Joseph Erardi, Southington's school superintendent. "This isn't about quantity. It's about making a difference, one student, one parent, one family, one community at a time."

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