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Man Stole $90K in Electricity to Run Pot House: Cops


A Bronx, New York man is accused of stealing more than $90,000 in electricity to operate an illegal marijuana growing operation in West Haven.

Joel Polanco, 33, was arrested on May 29. The Drug Enforcement Agency and United Illuminating began investigations into Polanco after it was learned he was stealing the electricity to power a home on Third Avenue in West Haven, according to police.

Authorities found more than 360 marijuana plants inside the home, police said.

Polanco is facing first-degree larceny and several drug charges.

Photo Credit: West Haven Police

WATCH: Florida Teen Rides 50,000-Pound Whale Shark


A Fort Myers, Fla., teen had a once in a lifetime experience when he swam with a 30-foot whale shark Saturday.

Chris Kreis, 19, was fishing in the Gulf of Mexico when he spotted the whale shark. He jumped in the water, grabbed the shark’s fin and rode it for a few seconds.

"It's massive. It's at least 30 feet long. It's at least the size of the boat," Kreis said.

The shark is estimated to weigh about 50,000 pounds. It is rare to see these sharks, but Kreis was able to swim with it.

"When I started holding on I felt the whale shark it started moving itself, it felt the drag and it didn't really want me on there so I let go and that's it," Kreis said, describing the ride.

Kreis made the decision to swim with the shark after someone on the boat said that he would probably never get the opportunity to see one again, so he quickly thought about it, and jumped in.

“It went through my mind, yeah. I might not be able to do it again, so I did it,” Kreis said. “It was incredible.”

But not everyone thinks it’s so great. Marine biologist Bruce Neill said it could have hurt both Kreis and the shark.

Kreis could have been hurt if the shark had attacked, Neill said. And the shark could have lost some of the slimy skin that keeps it healthy.

“It takes away that slime covering and potentially has negative health impacts on the fish,” said Neill.

Kreis said that if he had known about the potential harms, he would have taken precautions.

“If I had known about that, I would have probably just swam with it and not touched it. But since I didn't really know, I kind of feel bad,” Kreis said. “But again, it was a once in a lifetime experience."

More South Florida Stories:

Search for Missing Photographer Scaled Back


The state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection has decided to scale back the search for a man missing in Lake Lillinonah in New Milford.

The search for Eric Langlois, 33, began after a jogger called 911 around 8 p.m. Tuesday and reported seeing a man fall from some rocks at Lovers Leap State Park and fall into the water. Langlois had returned to the state park after accidentally dropping his bike into Lake Lillinonah on Monday, family members said.

Langlois, a wedding photographer, has had the support of the photography community. Dozens of friends and strangers joined the search effort through the week, but with no luck.

State officials said Sunday they would reduce their efforts after finding no sign of Langlois.

"Everyone at DEEP understands this is an emotional and sad time for friends, family and colleagues of Eric Langlois. Our hearts go out to them," said Dennis Schain, a spokesperson for the agency.

DEEP EnCon police will continue to periodically search the area on foot and by boat, Schain said.

Water Company Proposes Double-Digit Spike in Rates


A major Connecticut water company has proposed a plan to increase rates by a total of nearly 23 percent, according to the Connecticut Public Utilities Regulatory Authority (PURA).

At the end of March, the Aquarion Water Company of Connecticut filed an application with PURA requesting a three-year plan to raise rates.

This would include a 17.1 percent spike effective September 2013, adding an average of 26 cents per day to household bills. In some areas, the initial rate increase could be as much as 18.3 percent, according to an Aquarion public notice announcing the proposal.

Over the subsequent two years, rates would increase by 1.8 and 1.9 percent respectively, according to the proposal.

Aquarion supplies drinking water to over 625,000 Connecticut residents in 47 communities, according to the company website.

The site says this rate increase is necessary to balance out the $143 million investment in infrastructure Aquarion has made over the past few years. It also cites an increased “cost of doing business,” including higher taxes and fuel costs.

Some residents have already expressed concerns. In a letter posted to a public section of the PURA website, the Simsbury Board of Selectmen expressed “serious concerns and strong opposition” to the proposed increase, explaining that the new rates would “unduly burden residents and businesses still struggling in this economy.”

A letter from Stamford resident Artur Pylak echoed these concerns. “I would like to express my complete disapproval of Aquarion Water Company’s proposed fee increases on Connecticut consumers,” Pylak wrote. “I was shocked they are asking for a double digit rate increase.”

New Canaan resident Michael Saunders' letter read, “I understand the costs of all products and services increase over time but a 17.1 percent rate increase in one year is unacceptable!”

Upcoming public comment hearings will address consumer questions and concerns. The hearings will be held as follows:

  • June 18 at 6:30 p.m. at Independence Hall, 725 Old Post Road in Fairfield
  • June 24 at 6:30 p.m. at Mystic Middle School, 204 Mistuxet Avenue in Mystic
  • June 25 at 6:30 p.m. at the City Hall auditorium, 140 Main Street in Torrington
  • July 8 at 6:30 p.m. at the Simsbury Senior Center’s Eno Memorial hall, 754 Hopmeadow Street, Simsbury

Residents are also encouraged to contact PURA directly at 800-382-4586 or PURA.ExecutiveSecretary@ct.gov. Documents related to the proposed rate increase are listed under docket number 13-02-20.

Hartford Police Investigate Shooting Death


A man died last night after being shot multiple times at a Hartford home, police said.

Keith Callabrass, 19, of Milford Street in Hartford was shot and killed at 272 Cleveland Avenue around 11 p.m. Sunday night. Callabrass suffered from multiple gunshot wounds and was transported to St. Francis Hospital, where he died, police said.

Police are actively investigating. Anyone with information is asked to contact Hartford Major Crimes Division Sergeant Brandon O'Brien at 860-757-4089. Anonymous tips can be submitted to 860-722-8477.

Sinking Pavement Closes Part of Rt. 140


The heavy rains that swept across Connecticut last week are likely to blame for the troubles on Rt. 140 in East Windsor that have shut down part of the highway.

A Department of Transportation spokesman says the area of Rt. 140 between Rt. 191 and Harrington Road began sinking and cracking Thursday or Friday. It has since been closed to traffic, inconveniencing the 10,000 to 15,000 motorist who use the road every day.

The DOT is working to make repairs but describe the ground beneath the road as "boggy," and say that reinforcing it could take as long as a week.

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

Severe Thunderstorm Watch Issued Statewide


A severe thunderstorm watch is in effect for the entire state until 9 p.m.

A few isolated storms are possible before 5 p.m. Those thunderstorms may contain lightning, gusty winds, small hail and heavy rain. With saturated ground and already high small rivers and streams pockets of flash flooding are possible as well.


A severe thunderstorm warning was posted for parts of Fairfield County until 2:30 p.m. as a cell moved southeast through the area and into Long Island Sound.

More widespread thunderstorms will move in after 5 p.m. and those storms may become severe.

Tuesday could see another threat of storms.

Track thunderstorms on our Interactive Radar.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Chicago Teen, 15, Fatally Shot By Police Officer


A 15-year-old boy was fatally shot late Sunday by a police officer, marking the third police-involved shooting in Chicago since Friday.

Chicago Police said in a statement that officers were responding to shots in the Englewood neighborhood just before 11 p.m. when they spotted an individual running down the street. Authorities got out and chased him down an alley when the teen allegedly turned and pointed a gun at them on the 6600 block of South Sangamon.

One officer opened fire, police said, and shot the 15-year-old boy identified by family as Michael Westley. He was taken to Advocate Christ Medical Center where he died. No officers were injured.

Police said they recovered a .40 caliber handgun from the scene and a revolver on the teen's waistband.

"There's been an ongoing gang feud in this area, and that's what the gang officers were responding to in the first place," Fraternal Order of Police spokesman Pat Camden said.

Westley's family said the teen attended Urban Prep Academies where he was on the basketball team and got good grades. The school said the teen did not attend Urban Prep, but rather TEAM Englewood, a CPS school that's located on the Urban Prep-Englewood campus

The family questions why police were chasing Westley and how and why he was shot.

The incident follows a violent weekend that saw seven people killed and more than 40 injured.

“Pretty violent weekend," Camden said. "As we keep hearing, crime is down. I’m not sure where it’s down, but that’s what we’re being told.”

Police point out that despite the wave of shootings over the last few days, the city saw eight fewer shootings this weekend compared to the same weekend last year and fewer murders to date this year than any year since the mid 1960's.

The Independent Police Review Authority, which examines all officer-involved shootings, and Area South detectives launched investigations into the incident.

Photo Credit: NBCChicago.com

Police Announce Crackdown on Texting While Driving


Connecticut police and the state Department of Transportation have announced a major crackdown on distracted driving violations, according to a DOT press release.

The Anti-Texting Enforcement Project is part of the “Phone in One Hand, Ticket in the Other” initiative and will include four week-long enforcement periods throughout 2013 and 2014. The enforcement periods will take place in June and October of this year and March and July of next, according to the press release.

Distracted drivers will be fined $125 for the first offense, $250 for a second offense and $400 for each subsequent violation, the DOT said.

The crackdown is an expansion of a 2010 Hartford pilot project designed to minimize the number of distracted-driving related accidents. According to the U.S. DOT National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 660,000 drivers used cellphones and electronic devices in 2011, resulting in 3,300 deaths and 387,000 injuries, the DOT said.

Forty states, Washington D.C., Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands employ bans on texting while driving. Connecticut implemented its initial ban in 2010.


Photo Credit: AP

Route 10 Closed in Simsbury


A gas leak in Simsbury has closed Route 10/Hopmeadow Street between the 370 and 400 blocks, according to the Simsbury Fire Department.

The leak was caused when a car hit the gas main in front of 384 Hopmeadow Street, said a representative from Connecticut Natural Gas, which is responding to the scene.

The gas has been shut off and CNG expects the road to reopen soon.

Businesses in the area say authorities are telling people to stay inside.

An NBC Connecticut crew is reporting to the scene.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Man Shot Dead in New Britain Driveway


New Britain police are investigating the shooting death of a man on Kelsey Street.

Officers responded to 15 Kelsey Street at 11:47 p.m. on Sunday. They found a man suffering from a gunshot wound in the driveway of the home, police said. He was rushed to the hospital where he was pronounced dead.

Police have not identified the victim.

The New Britain Police Department's Criminal Investigation Division and the State's Attorney's Office are investigating the shooting.

Anyone with information is asked to call New Britain detectives at 860-826-3131.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Miss Connecticut wins Miss USA Contest in Vegas


A 25-year-old contestant from Connecticut won the title of Miss USA in Las Vegas on Sunday night.

Erin Brady of South Glastonbury, Conn., won the beauty pageant at the Planet Hollywood hotel-casino after strutting in a white sparkly gown and answering a question about the U.S. Supreme Court's decision upholding widespread DNA tests. Asked if she agreed with the decision, Brady said she did.

Brady gets the crown and a New York apartment for one year. She is expected to spend her title reign on a nationwide speaking tour and raising breast and ovarian cancer awareness, the organization's official cause.

During the swimsuit competition, the ladies threw off sheer wraps to reveal skimpy blue, gold and orange bikinis. They strutted in stilettos to the Jonas Brothers' live performance of "Pom Poms."

The women also strutted to Calvin Harris' electronica-infused "Sweet Nothing" in an array of spangled, flowing evening gowns. Trains, gauze and long wavy hair were the preferred looks.

Unlike the rival Miss America pageant, Miss USA doesn't ask its queens to perform a talent or choose a charity mission.

The judge's panel included over-the-top fashion designer Betsey Johnson, "Biggest Loser" star Bob Harper and "Wait Wait ... Don't Tell Me" personality Mo Rocca.

Rocca praised the pageant as a prime example of Americana backstage. He said he was looking to appoint a new Miss USA who reminded him of Abraham Lincoln "without the beard."

The pageant aired live on NBC, hosted by Nick Jonas of the Jonas Brothers pop act and Giuliana Rancic, co-anchor of "E! News." The Jonas Brothers and DJ Pauly D were expected to perform.

The winner will represent the United States at the Miss Universe pageant in the winter. Last year's Miss USA, Olivia Culpo, won that international crown, becoming the first Miss USA to ascend to Miss Universe in 16 years. Meriwether, who had been first runner-up, took over for her for the remainder of the year.

The Miss USA hopefuls stayed at the Planet Hollywood casino for the past week, but the flashing slot machines and ubiquitous oversized novelty drinks have been little more than a background to a stuffed schedule of product tie-in media events, including hairdo contests and paddleboat competitions.

The animal rights organization People For The Ethical Treatment Of Animals is using the pageant to stage a protest of fur and the tradition of awarding furs to winners of some state pageants.

PETA has made a provocative ad featuring four nude former Miss USA winners. The tagline is: "Feel Beautiful in Your Own Skin, and Let Animals Keep Theirs."

Associated Press/NBC Connecticut

Photo Credit: AP

Chad Johnson Released From Jail


Former NFL star Chad Johnson left the Broward County Main Jail on Monday and called the judge who put him there a blessing in disguise.

Johnson walked out of jail shortly after 4 p.m. and was met by his attorney, Adam Swickle, and sports agent Drew Rosenhaus. Johnson told reporters he was thankful to Judge Kathleen McHugh because she was the first person to get him to slow down and think about the path his life was taking.

"I had a lot of time to reflect, a lot of time to think, think about where I have been, where I am now, and where I am going," Johnson said as he left jail. "Other than that man, it's just, I have to make my next move, my best move."

Johnson, 35, also known as Chad Ochocinco for his jersey number in Spanish during his playing days, appeared in a Broward County, Fla., courtroom on Monday, when McHugh ruled that he would be released. His 30-day jail sentence, which was given to him after he slapped his attorney on the backside in court, was reduced to seven days.

"A lot of people have tried to get me to slow down in life. Coaches, agent, lawyer, and there was one person that was able to do it, and that was my judge Ms. McHugh. Little does she know it, I love her to death. But basically, what she's been, is a blessing in disguise," he said.

He will remain in probation until October 16, receive counseling sessions twice a week and work on community service hours, the judge ruled.

Johnson was initally in court for violating his probation in a domestic violence case.

He had been expected to take a plea deal that included no jail time, but it all fell apart when Johnson slapped his attorney.

VIDEO: Chad Johnson Slaps Attorney's Buttocks in Court

On Monday, Johnson appeared before Judge McHugh, the judge who rejected his initial plea. He apologized and she reduced the sentence.

"I apologize for disrespecting your court," Johnson said.

Johnson had apologized several times last week, and told the judge that the gesture was not meant as disrespect to the court.

But after the courtroom erupted in laughter, McHugh sent Johnson to jail.

Johnson was on probation after pleading no contest to head-butting his then-wife, TV reality star Evelyn Lozada, during an altercation last August. She quickly filed for divorce after barely a month of marriage and Johnson, a six-time Pro Bowl wide receiver, was immediately released by the Miami Dolphins. He didn't play at all last season.

Photo Credit: NBC 6 South Florida

Man on NJ-Bound Plane: "Your Life Is in Jeopardy"


A man on a Newark-bound flight from Hong Kong Monday screamed that passengers had been poisoned and drugged while ranting "your life is in jeopardy," before he was tackled by fellow fliers and crew, officials and witnesses said.

The man was in a middle seat at the rear of the plane when he began pacing the aisle and ranting, witnesses told NBC 4 New York.

In a recording of part of his rant, he can be heard saying "your life is in jeopardy," and talking about the CIA and NSA.

"He started reaching for something in his jacket, and so a few of us jumped on him, basically, put him to the floor, at the same time the crew brought plastic handcuffs and we were able to restrain him," said passenger Jacques Roizen.

Others were relieved that passengers took action.

"They took care of him, big guys," said Freida Najman.

United Airlines spokeswoman Jennifer Dohm said in a statement that "a passenger became disruptive" on the flight, and that the crew followed procedures.

The plane later landed at Newark, where it was met by Port Authority police. The man was led off the plane in handcuffs and taken to a hospital for a psychiatric evaluation, according to the official.

It was not clear whether he would face charges.

An FBI spokesman said authorities had cleared the plane and were interviewing witnesses.

--Jay Blackman contributed to this report

Bear Sightings Rise in Connecticut


Bear sightings are on the rise in Connecticut, according to the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection.

The latest bear sighting occurred in Plainville where an adult female bear was found wandering through the St. Joseph Cemetery and an adjoining neighborhood on West Pine Way.

"I was walking up the street and a large black bear walked right in front of me. It couldn't have been more than 30 or 40 feet away from me and she just lumbered along," said Mitch Ziolkowski, who lives in the neighborhood.

There have been many other recent sightings too: in Wolcott, Danbury, West Hartford, Torrington, Wethersfield and Rocky Hill.

"The number of sightings has been increasing over the years," said Paul Rego, a wildlife biologist with the state DEEP.

The bear population in Connecticut is growing and the bears are wandering into new and more populated areas, said Rego. That's led to a slightly increased number of sightings this year compared to this time last year, he said.

"Having bird feeders out, having poorly stored trash, those things are welcome mats for bears," said Rego. "We do expect that bear sightings are going to be more common even in southern Connecticut and eastern Connecticut."

Every year, there are about 3000 bear sightings in the state.



Photo Credit: Chris Dugo

New Job Offer for Teacher Fired in Domestic Violence Dispute


The San Diego-area woman fired from her teaching job because of her ex-husband's violent behavior has a job offer.

A school official in the Los Angeles area made the offer after seeing NBC 7 San Diego’s coverage on the controversial termination of a teacher at Holy Trinity School in El Cajon.

Carie Charlesworth was emotional after learning that the viewer, who wants to remain anonymous, was so touched by her story she would like to offer her a job.

"It's good to know that people generally care about other people," Charlesworth said.

Charlesworth is the victim of domestic violence and was terminated from her teaching job earlier this year, after school officials said they were concerned about her ex-husband's threatening behavior.

The second grade teacher was put on indefinite leave, and her four children were also asked to no longer attend the school.

A letter sent to Charlesworth said that school officials are concerned about her ex-husband's "threatening and menacing behavior," and as a result they "cannot allow" her to continue teaching at the Holy Trinity School.

Despite an outpouring of parents who voiced their support for the school's decision, this anonymous school official says she's willing to take the risk and give Charlesworth a job.

"For me, I was angry at the thought that she had done nothing wrong, and yet she was being hurt by that herself," the school official said.

The woman runs a private school in the Los Angeles area and said from educator to educator, it's the least she could do.

"If nothing else, I'm more than happy to simply say to her, 'There's somebody out there that cares,'" the official told NBC 7 San Diego.

After taking her situation public, Charlesworth thought her career would be over. Now she says she's beyond thankful to get another chance.

"To take someone they don't even know and to offer a job opportunity,” she said. “It's amazing to me."

Charlesworth and the school official still need to talk things over, but she said she would be willing to relocate to the Los Angeles area for the job.

She's still on paid leave from the school, but that will run out in August. So she said she is exploring other options.

Her ex-husband is scheduled to be released from jail at the end of June.

Meanwhile, both the San Diego Catholic Diocese and the school have declined to comment on this story.

Alexion Breaks Ground in New Haven


With a scoop of dirt and a flick of the shovel, Alexion Pharmaceuticals broke ground on its new home in New Haven.  It will be the anchor company for Downtown Crossing, which will transform an empty space off of Route 34 into offices, businesses and restaurants.

“Alexion is at a stage and a growth rate where our contributions to the city can energize the city, and the city can energize Alexion,” said Dr. Leonard Bell, Alexion founder and CEO.

Since Alexion was originally founded in New Haven, moving the global headquarters from Cheshire to the Elm City made sense.  It also puts Alexion right next to Yale’s Medical School.

“In many ways I’m a product of Yale," said Bell. "I went to the medical school; I was on the faculty for several years before I started Alexion. It’s a great opportunity to have exciting, innovative scientists be able to speak to each other, collaborate, all for the benefit of patients around the world.”

That future partnership is also a benefit to the city of New Haven.

“That talent is translating science and research there into commercially viable products that both makes people’s lives better and creates jobs and taxes,” said New Haven Mayor John DeStefano.

The Downtown Crossing Project also bridges the Hill neighborhood to the rest of New Haven, making the city more accessible and closing the Route 34 divide. The city hopes that will mean even more business for the downtown area.

Just as the state hopes that Alexion’s new headquarters will mean more business for the state.

“This is an investment, along with others that we’re making so that we can recover our leadership in this industry that’s growing at over 11 percent per year. That’s why this investment with Alexion is important; that’s why this building is important,” said Governor Dannel Malloy.

Alexion will move its employees from Cheshire to New Haven when the project is complete in 2015.


Jesse Jackson Jr. Wants to Go to Prison Before His Wife


Convicted former Illinois congressman Jesse Jackson Jr. would like to serve prison time ahead of his also-convicted spouse, Sandi Jackson, court filings show.

Paperwork also reveals that the former legislator is having difficulty paying the hefty fine levied against him by a federal judge.

Jackson pleaded guilty in February to misusing campaign funds. Jackson acknowledged in court that he spent $750,000 of campaign cash on personal items — like a $4,600 Michael Jackson fedora and a $1,500 black-and-red cashmere cape, according to the charges against him — and pleaded guilty to several charges, including conspiracy to commit wire fraud, mail fraud and false statements.

Sandi Jackson pleaded guilty on the same day to tax fraud.

The government doesn't agree that Sandi should be able to serve a potential jail term later than her husband.

In response to the request about Sandi, the government said that she should not get a break just because she was a good public servant and has family responsibilities.  

“Defendant was also a highly compensated, elected official," a government document states. "Whose job was to represent and assist her constituents.  She … should not get a variance for merely doing her job as a public servant.”

Oops: Ed Koch Tombstone Has Wrong Birth Date


The tombstone for former Mayor Ed Koch, who died in February after meticulously planning the details of his burial for years, was mistakenly engraved with the wrong birth date, NBC 4 New York has found.

The marker, which stands more than 5 feet tall and 6 feet wide, lists Koch's birth date as Dec. 12, 1942, instead of 1924. The birth date on the headstone would have made him a child during World War II, even though the inscription notes he served in the armed forces during the war.

Koch, New York City mayor from 1978 to 1989, was buried in Trinity Church cemetery in Washington Heights after his death from congestive heart failure at age 88. The funeral was attended by top dignitaries, and featured remarks by former President Bill Clinton and Mayor Michael Bloomberg, among others.
The headstone mistake is particularly poignant because Koch so carefully planned his burial years before his death.
In 2008, Koch revealed he had bought the plot at Trinity so that he could remain in his beloved borough for eternity.
"I don't want to leave Manhattan, even when I'm gone," Koch said at the time.
His former chief of staff, Diane Coffey, said at his funeral that he had begun preparing for his death in the 1980s.
"Who else plans every detail of a burial?" she said.
He also pre-ordered his tombstone, deciding to use the words from journalist Daniel Pearl before he was killed by Islamic terrorists:  “My father is Jewish; my mother is Jewish; I am Jewish.”
The marker did not have the birth date engraved on it when Koch was buried. Tommy Flynn, of Flynn Funeral and Cremation Memorial Services, told NBC 4 New York the dates were engraved earlier this month, and the mistake was "an inadvertent error."
Flynn said he feels "terrible."
"I have to make it right. I will correct it," he said.
Coffey told NBC 4 New York on Monday that she was "appalled" to hear of the error, but also said Koch might have found humor in the mistake. 
"As Ed Koch used to say, 'It's always important to correct the record,'" she said.

More New York-Area Stories:

Solar Plane or UFO? Pilot's Prank Startles Sky-Watchers


The pilot of the world's only solar-powered plane that can fly at night tells transportation reporter Adam Tuss he was toying with people who might be watching him land at Dulles Airport. Read the full story here.
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