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Southington Man Dies After Hitting Pole


A 41-year-old Southington man was killed in a crash on Wednesday night. 

Police said 41-year-old Charles Farr, of Southington, hit a utility pole on Main Street, near Carter Lane, at 11:51 p.m. 

His black 2003 Pontiac Sunfire was going north on Main Street when it went off the road, police said. 

Farr was transported from the scene of the crash to the hospital, where he was pronounced dead. 

Police ask anyone with information about the crash to call the Southington Police Department at (860) 621-0101 or Officer T. Wilk at (860) 378-1600 x2352 or email twilk@southingtonpolice.org.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

E-Cig Starts Smoking Then Bursts Into Flames in Man's Pocket


A man in California is recovering after an e-cigarette exploded in his pocket this week. The 53-year-old man was on a bus in Fresno Wednesday morning when the device started smoking and then burst into flames.

2 Suspected of Stealing Packages Arrested in Hamden


Police have arrested two people who are accused of stealing packages in Hamden. 

Police responded to London Drive at 2:30 p.m. Wednesday after someone reported seeing someone take a package that was delivered to a house on the street. 

An officer found 43-year-old Jack Humphrey, of Hamden, and said he was a passenger in a motor vehicle 43-year-old Lisa Zielinski, of Hamden, was driving. 

Officers took three boxes of LEGOS from the vehicle and police said they had been stolen from the London Drive residence. 

Humphrey also walked onto a front porch on Daniel Road, where several packages had recently been delivered, but drove off after a neighbor “yelled” at him, police said. 

Humphrey was charged with sixth-degree larceny, two counts of sixth-degree conspiracy to commit larceny and two counts of simple trespass. 

He was help on a $1,000.00 bond is scheduled to appear in court in Meriden on Jan. 4. 

Zielinski was charged with two counts of sixth-degree conspiracy to commit larceny. She was detained on a $1,000 bond and is also scheduled to appear in court in Meriden on Jan. 4. 

Photo Credit: Hamden Police

Men Assaulted Chinese Food Delivery Driver, Stole Car


Ansonia police are searching for three men who assaulted a Chinese food delivery driver and stole his car.

Police said they responded to Dwight Street in Ansonia just before 9 p.m. Wednesday to investigate the assault and robbery and the delivery driver said three men, including one with a gun, approached him when he got out of his car to drop off food.

Two of the men assaulted him, while the other took his car, a black four-door 2009 Honda Accord with New York plates HBY5939.

The delivery driver suffered minor injuries and was treated at the hospital.

Anyone with information is asked to call Officer Christopher Kelley at 203-735-1885.and not approach the car.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

'That’s the Job': Former Hardee’s Actress on 'Sexist' Ads


Lisa Taylor was 29 when she agreed to travel the country in a black French maid outfit to promote a cheeseburger for Hardee’s, a fast food chain run by President-elect Donald Trump’s recent pick for labor secretary.

It was another overtly sexual social promotion from a company known for its racy advertising. As CEO of CKE Restaurants, the parent company of Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr., Andy Puzder has drawn attention for overseeing television ads that showed a swimsuit-clad Paris Hilton washing a car before digging into a cheeseburger.

“The whole industry that you work for is sexist,” said Taylor, a stage name for the actress and teacher who lives in the Midwest. “You’re paid strictly for how you look.”

Puzder has repeatedly defended the ads, claiming he wanted to appeal to a young, male demographic.

“I like our ads. I like beautiful women eating burgers in bikinis,” he told Entrepreneur in 2015. “I think it's very American." 

If approved by the Senate, Puzder will head a federal agency tasked with promoting a workforce that is nearly 50 percent women. He will also have jurisdiction for enforcing anti-discrimination laws, including sex discrimination, among federal contractors and subcontractors.

Women’s rights advocates, Democrats and labor organizations have criticized his appointment, not least because of the depiction of women in his company's advertising.

“To possibly have a secretary of labor who is the CEO of a company whose ads objectify women is an abomination,” Madonna Badger, who runs an ad agency that aims to promote a positive image of women, told NBC.

Terry O’Neill, president of the National Organization for Women, said: “Mr. Puzder is promoting a deeply offensive and misogynistic view of women: that women are sexual objects to be used to sell fast food. It’s really disgusting.”

While the company's television ads are well known, their sexualized road show hasn't received the same attention. On the tour for Hardee’s, Taylor joined three other actresses, the so-called “‘French me’ Femmes” to advertise the French Dip Thickburger across the South and Midwest in the summer of 2009.

The sandwich consisted of sliced roast beef on top of a burger patty and melted Swiss cheese, with au jus dipping sauce on the side.

“Meat was in essence a condiment,” David Johnson, then-creative director of Ngage, the ad agency hired by Hardee’s for the promotion, said of the meat-on-meat sandwich.

To riff on the French-themed burger, Johnson said, the actresses dressed as maids during the tour.

“You’re hired to portray a look and that personality type,” Taylor said of the promotion. “That led people to think they could treat you a certain way.”

Taylor and the other actresses — clad in black miniskirts, fishnet stockings, choker necklaces and garters — teased shirtless men with feather dusters at auto races while plugging the burger. The Femmes asked men through fake French accents when they first French kissed. They offered to wipe radio hosts’ mouths after they took a bite of the burger.

For Taylor, the job was standard. Hardee’s did not ask for anything out of the ordinary; it’s the business that is inherently sexist, she said. Dealing with “handsy” men and “creepy,” unsolicited comments is in the job description for a promotion like the Hardee’s one.

“You’re used to that like lecherous, gross guy coming up to you. That was the whole point,” she said. “You’re wearing this French maid costume, giving out coupons. You deal with it. That’s your job.”

The promotion was aimed specifically to attract 18 to 34-year-old men — “hungry young guys,” as Puzder describes them.

It was a dynamic that made Taylor at times uncomfortable, but one she accepted because it was part of the job.

“It’s almost like you put on your mask,” she said. “But if I was just an ordinary citizen living my life, I would be just grossed out if a guy was like ‘can I take a picture with you?’ or ‘you’re hot!’”

Taylor never interacted with Puzder and was hired by an independent ad agency, not directly by Hardee's. But for Badger and other critics of the Cabinet nominee, the sort of advertising his company produced has wider implications for how women are treated in the workforce and in society as a whole.

“Women are not props to be portrayed as scantily clad burger eating sex toys for anyone's viewing pleasure,” Badger told NBC. “Until women are portrayed as equal, we will not be treated as such.”

CKE Restaurants and the Trump transition team did not respond to requests for comment.

Photo Credit: Getty
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Mostly Rain on Christmas Eve


A few flurries moved through earlier today, but the next chance for precipitation looks like rain.

It will be dry on Friday, with abundant sunshine. Friday evening will be better for last-minute shopping than Saturday, simply because precipitation moves in on Christmas Eve.

While some snow flakes are possible in the hills Saturday morning, most of the state will see rain with temperatures rising to near 40 degrees.

Christmas Day looks dry with sunshine. Temperatures will be in the 40s.

So what about a white Christmas? The only way that happens, is if the current snow pack lasts until Sunday. There's a decent chance that happens where the snow depth is currently a few inches.

It turns colder for a brief period Monday, when temperatures will be reluctant to rise and highs should only be in the 30s.

A more organized round of precipitation early next week will come from a cold front, on Tuesday, but it will be warm. With temperatures in the 50s, rain showers are expected.

Video of Chewbacca Caroling 'Silent Night' Goes Viral


The latest yuletide video featuring Chewbacca is much, much better than 1978's much-maligned "Star Wars Holiday Special."

Popular YouTube channel "How It Should Have Ended", which normally creates short cartoons with alternate endings to movies and TV shows (including the Star Wars films), posted a mash-up of scenes of the galaxy's most famous Wookie appearing to sing "Silent Night."

The channel explained that the video is one that gets re-shared every holiday season, but was actually created in 1999 by Scott Anderson.

On his website, Anderson explains that he made the song after a coworker gave musician Paul Todd the nickname "Chewbacca." Anderson said that Todd had worked with his company to create a CD titled "Christmas with Paul Todd," so he started by creating a new album cover featuring Chewbacca. 

Anderson said he decided to take the goof one step further and mapped sounds of Chewie's trademark growls and roars onto a synthesizer, which he then played to the tune of "Silent Night."

"How It Should Have Ended's" video adaptation of Anderson's song has already been viewed more than 500,000 times since it was posted Wednesday. The video also became a trending item on Facebook Thursday. 

Photo Credit: Getty Images
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2 Cats Killed, 2 Firefighters Injured in Stratford Fire


Two firefighters suffered minor injuries in a house fire in Stratford on Wednesday night that killed two cats. 

Crews responded to 472 Huntington Road at 10:16 p.m. and a lieutenant and a firefighter where injured in a flashover when they entered the first floor.

They  suffered minor injuries, officials said in a news release, and both were brought to a local hospital. They were released last night. 

No residents were hurt, but they will be displaced through the holidays, officials said. 

Crews cleared the scene by 4 a.m. and the fire marshal is investigating the cause of the fire.

Photo Credit: Alan Porzelt

Men Pulled From JetBlue Flight With Ivanka Trump Aboard


A New York man and his husband were removed from a Jetblue flight after an incident involving the daughter and son-in-law of President-elect Donald Trump.

Hunter College professor Matthew Lasner said in a tweet that his husband went to "harass" Ivanka Trump and her husband, Jared Kushner, as they boarded a plane at John F. Kennedy airport on Thursday. 

In a second tweet, Lasner said that his husband "expressed displeasure in a calm tone, JetBlue staff overheard and they kicked us off the plane."

He also tweeted a photo of what appeared to be the president-elect's daughter sitting on the plane.

Lasner later deleted the tweets.

JetBlue said in a statement that the couple was rebooked on another flight and that the "decision to remove a customer from a flight is not taken lightly."

"If the crew determines that a customer is causing conflict on the aircraft, the customer will be asked to deplane, especially if the crew feels the situation runs the risk of escalation during flight," the company said in the statement. "In this instance, our team worked to re-accommodate the party on the next available flight."

In a Facebook post, Marc Scheff, a passenger on the flight who witnessed the exchange, wrote that Lasner's husband did not yell at Trump or "accost her." Scheff told NBC News that the professor appeared agitated and said, "Oh my God. This is a nightmare. They ruin the country and now they ruin our flight!"

Scheff explained in his Facebook post that the flight was delayed because Trump's family had to board the flight first through some other entrance.  

"The comments were definitely for everyone but he was directing them towards her," he said.

He continued: "When the JetBlue staff went back to speak to the man I overheard Ivanka say to them 'I don't want to make this a thing.' My assessment is that she was happy to let the man take his seat. Security made a different call."

The President-elect's daughter and her family landed at San Francisco International Airport around 3 p.m. local time, and were immediately whisked off in a private car to a chartered plane that was waiting on a nearby tarmac.

A representative for Ivanka Trump declined to comment on the exchange. A spokesperson said she and Kushner were on a flight to San Francisco en route to Hawaii at the time.

Photo Credit: Getty Images

Trump Insists He'll 'Drain the Swamp' as Gingrich Walks Back 'Boo Boo'


Former House Speaker and Donald Trump ally Newt Gingrich is walking back his claim that the president-elect will not prioritize his campaign promise to "drain the swamp" in Washington, a charge that came after Trump selected a series of wealthy donors and business executives for his White House team, NBC News reported.

Gingrich suggested in an interview with NPR earlier this week that Trump was no longer enamored of the pithy pledge, claiming Trump "now says it was cute, but he doesn't want to use it anymore."

But in an online video posted Thursday, Gingrich said that the statement was "a big boo-boo," adding that Trump assured him in a conversation Thursday that "he intends to drain the swamp."

Without mentioning Gingrich by name, Trump tweeted that "we will always be trying to DTS."

Photo Credit: AP
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'Normal Guy': Truck Suspect Trod Familiar Path to Terror


The suspect in the Berlin truck rampage turned from a troubled youngster to alleged terrorist in a matter of years, according to officials and media reports, NBC Reported.

Anis Amri, 24, was at the center of an international manhunt Thursday after authorities found his personal documents inside the vehicle that plowed through the Christmas market on Monday. Twelve people were killed and almost 50 others injured in the attack that has since been claimed by ISIS.

Amri's apparent journey is a well-trodden path familiar to experts: a youngster gets in trouble with the law, goes to jail and finally winds up on the path of extremism.

Photo Credit: AP

MDC Issued Drought Advisory


The Metropolitan District Commission has issued a drought advisory because of declining water levels amid a lack of rain. 

The drinking water reservoir supply is at around 75 percent capacity, which is a 500-day supply, assuming there is no rain at all and water usage continues at normal levels, according to the MDC. 

MDC serves Bloomfield, East Hartford, Hartford, Newington, Rocky Hill, West Hartford, Wethersfield and Windsor. It also supplies treated water to parts of Cromwell, East Granby, Farmington Glastonbury, Manchester and South Windsor and has agreements to sell water to Portland and Connecticut Water Company, which serves customers in Unionville and Collinsville. 

The drought advisory does not include restrictions on water use for individual customers, but city and town officials are asked to cut back on water use for non-essential operations, such as street cleaning, municipal watering and vehicle washing. 

Because of the drought, MDC is suspending washing its own vehicles and limiting hydrant flushing operations. 

The MDC also has emergency interconnections with New Britain, Berlin and Windsor Locks and New Britain has reached out to MDC to utilize its services. 

MDC said it has been supplying New Britain with water as of Dec. 1, so it is providing water not only to the 400,000 people in greater Hartford it normally supplies, but also to more than 87,700 in New Britain, so that might speed up the time at which MDC reaches the next level of drought and issues a “Drought Watch,” which is activated when reservoir levels fall to 53 percent of capacity. 

At the current rate, MDC estimates that it will reach the 53 percent trigger point in late May. 

“Even with the request for water from New Britain, the MDC is fully capable of meeting expected demands, and we want our customers to be assured the MDC is in contact with all appropriate regulatory authorities monitoring the drought conditions.” Scott Jellison, CEO of MDC, said in a statement. 

The MDC is asking customers to use water wisely and repair leaky toilets, fix leaky faucets, run dishwashers and washing machines with full loads, replace old fixtures and appliances with new water efficient ones, take showers instead of baths and avoid runing faucets when you brush your teeth or shave. 

Get additional information on water saving tips here. 

Get information on reservoir levels here. 

Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Man Sentenced to 7 Years for Bank Robberies in Connecticut, New York


A 38-year-old New Haven man has been sentenced to seven years in prison for stealing  $18,830 during six bank robberies in Connecticut and New York.

Police in Chicopee, Massachusetts arrested Juan Cruz, who was accused of robbing banks in New Haven, Connecticut, and Albany, New York.

Cruz robbed the Santander Bank, at 215 Grand Ave. in New Haven, on Oct. 15, 2015; the Wells Fargo Bank at 205 Church St. in New Haven on Oct. 20, Nov. 7 and Nov. 21, 2015; the Bank of America at 157 Church St. in New Haven on Nov. 9, 2015, and the Citizens Bank at 10 North Pearl Street in Albany, N.Y., on Nov. 20, 2015, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.

He was arrested on Nov. 21, 2015, in Chicopee, Mass. and pleaded guilty on Sept. 22, 2016 to one count of bank robbery.  

Cruz was sentenced to seven years in prison, followed by three years of supervised release. 

Photo Credit: Chicopee Police
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Dad of Girl Abandoned in New York Charged With Murder


The father of a 5-year-old girl who was found abandoned inside the Port Authority Bus Terminal in New York in November after her mother was discovered dead in Stamford, Connecticut has been charged with the woman's murder, according to Stamford Police.

Stamford police checked on Dionicia Cano Bautista on Monday, Nov. 14 after Port Authority found the little girl and contacted authorities in Connecticut.

When officers responded to 388 Courtland Ave. in Stamford, they found Bautista dead.

Bautista had moved to Stamford with her daughter only the day before to reunite with Elmer Gomez Ruano, her estranged husband and the father of her daughter, according to police. 

In November, authorities in New York arrested Ruano, law enforcement sources told NBC New York. Stamford police said Ruano was charged with risk of injury to a minor and he was extradicted to Connecticut on Thursday, where he was also charged with murder. Bond has been set at $900,000 and Ruano is due in Stamford Superior Court on Dec. 23.

Officials said it's not clear if the girl witnessed the dispute or the killing of her mother.

She is now with a foster family, according to police.

Photo Credit: Stamford Police
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Danielson Man Charged With Attempted Assault


Connecticut state police have arrested a Danielson man who is accused of attempted manslaughter.

Police responded to a Putnam home at 12:38 a.m. to investigate a disturbance with a gun.

Police said 34-year-old Kenneth Griggs, of Danielson, grabbed a woman in the house, pointed a gun at her, threatened her and pulled the trigger, but the gun did not go off.

A man in the house intervened and was able to get the gun away from Griggs, state police said.

Griggs ran into a bedroom and tried to hide, according to state police.

A 20-month-old child was sleeping in the next room, according to police.

State troopers recovered a pistol from the scene and said it was stolen out of Thompson in May 2012 and Griggs does not have a pistol permit.

He was charged with carrying a pistol without a permit, criminal attempt, unlawful discharge of a firearm, risk of injury to a minor, disorderly conduct, stealing a firearm, criminal attempted manslaughter, criminal attempted assault, first-degree threatening, first-degree risk of endangerment and first-degree unlawful restraint.

Bond was set at $100,000.

Photo Credit: Connecticut State Police

Syrian Refugee Family in Connecticut Gets Holiday Surprise


This year some families in Connecticut have a lot to be thankful for and some holiday cheer was delivered to their door.

They escaped their homes in war-torn countries including Syria and have been given a second chance here.

From clothes to food to supplies, boxes were packed with donations.

Volunteers loaded them into a van, destined for families who now live far from their native countries.

“Our point today is to bring a little holiday spirit to people in need,” Nancy Latif, facilitator for Refugee Advocacy Services, said.

The first stop was the Al-Mahameed family in Hartford.

The couple and their 4-year-old daughter and 2-year-old son arrived in Connecticut four months ago.

“He’s really thankful for all the gifts and he’s really thankful his kids are happy this season,” Waseem Al-Mahameed said through a translator.

Waseem says his family fled their home in Syria.

Now it’s sad to see the civil war raging there and the horrible images from Aleppo.

“It’s not easy watching everything over there,” Al-Mahameed said.

“They’re just people, just people like any other people except that they are escaping from a war zone,” Latif said.

Which is why Latif says her organization is trying to help nearly 40 refugee families in the greater Hartford area this season, making them feel at home, especially during this time of giving.

And the Al-Mahameed family is grateful.

“They don’t feel like foreigners in this country. They’re welcomed. They feel like Americans here,” Al-Mahameed said.

The group plans to deliver about another dozen donations on Thursday and hopes to continue this next year.

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

Berlin Truck Attack Caught on Dashcam Footage


The attack that killed 12 people was caught on dramatic dashcam footage showing the moment a truck plowed into an outdoor Christmas market in Berlin, Germany, on Dec. 19, 2016.

Marijuana Debate Starts in Connecticut


The issue of marijuana legalization isn't a new one in Connecticut, but perhaps for the first time, the issue of recreational use may become a serious one in the General Assembly.

The reason for the shift is that the top member of the Connecticut Senate filed legislation that would directly address the recreational use, the regulation, and the taxation of marijuana.

The issue is expected to be bipartisan on both sides, for and against.

“I think it’s something the state legislature should really take a hard look at," said Sen. Gary Winfield, a Democrat from New Haven whose district borders that of Sen. Martin Looney, who presented the bill.

Winfield says drug arrests have disproportionately affected minorities and marijuana was, for years, one of the most common substances that led to those arrests.

In recent years Connecticut has decriminalized the possession and use of small amounts of cannabis, but the issue of recreational use has remained on the fringe of politics.

Winfield says that should change in 2017 for socital, and budget reasons, since the state faces a $1.5 billion shortfall for each of the next two fiscal years.

“I think it makes a lot of sense at this point particularly when we have the issues that we have with the budget to at least have the conversation in a real way about the legalization of marijuana.”

Attorney General George Jepsen, when asked Thursday, reiterated that he is in support of the legalization of marijuana.

Gov. Dannel Malloy, however, says he thinks for now the state has gone as far as it should when it comes to the legalization of cannabis.

He says Connecticut should wait longer to see how the issue has played out in other states before jumping into the issue, adding that he doesn't think it's a bad idea to take a measured approach.

“I don’t think anyone should be prosecuted for their personal use in small amounts," Malloy said. "That’s very different than saying the state should play a role in promoting its use. I do not think the state should play a role in promoting its use.”

On the budget argument, Malloy said, “Revenue is absolutely the wrong reason to get into this business.”

It's expected that multiple Republicans will joins with Democrats on the issue of marijuana legalization. But one of the top members of the House GOP, Rep. Vincent Candelora, agrees with Malloy.

He said, “This is a money grab and that is my concern because we are in tough budget times that we’re looking for blood money and legalizing marijuana for recreational purposes so we can tax it has serious concerns.”

Photo Credit: Getty Images, File

Opioid Disposal Pouches Made Available


For the first time in Connecticut, opiate disposal pouches will be widely available for anyone with leftover prescription drugs in their medicine cabinets.

Mallinckordt Pharmaceuticals donated 80,000 of the pouches to more than 600 pharmacies around the state and they are available to customers, free of charge.

The hope, for state officials, is that people take advantage of them, to help curb the spread of heroin-based opioids, which will be responsible for more than 900 deaths in 2016 in Connecticut.

"This is brilliant, whoever came up with this. Absolutely, it’s going to save a lot of lives," said Sue Kruzcek, who lost her 20 year old son, Nick, to an opioid overdose.

The governor and medical officials have said the face of opiate addiction has changed as a result of powerful prescription painkillers that are prescribed every day.

That's a point Gov. Dannel Malloy attempted to make Thursday.

“This is not the opioids that people like me grew up with where the opioid was very unpure," he told the crowd at Saint Francis Hospital in Hartford.

“Folks, the reason this thing got so far out of hand is nobody understood it. This is not heroin addiction of the 50’s, the 60’s the 70’s, the 80’s, or even the 90’s. This is entirely different. It looks a lot cleaner but it’s more deadly.”

The pouches are simple to use. They have a plastic zipping seal and a charcoal based chemical mix inside. The use simply needs to pour as many as 45 pills into the bag, and follow that with warm water. The mixture will dissolve and dilute the opiates, making it safe once the pouch is discarded in the trash.

More than one million of the pouches have been distributed nationwide.

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

Groton Murder Suspect Faces Judge


Captured at the Canadian border and now facing a murder charge. The man accused of killing Joey Gingerella at a Groton bar appeared before a judge Thursday.

NBC Connecticut was first to give you a look inside the courtroom at 30-year-old Dante Hughes, the man accused of shooting and killing Gingerella. He's being held on a $500,000 cash bond for murder and $50,000 cash for assault.

Town of Groton police tell NBC Connecticut that an altercation happened in the early morning hours on Dec. 11 between Hughes and another person. Gingerella stepped in to help. That's when Hughes allegedly pulled out his gun.

Thursday in court the judge said there was a woman involved in the incident. Hughes is to have absolutely no contact with her.

"Thank goodness this guy is off the street. He's a monster," said Ray Ryan, the owner of Ryan's Pub.

The court appearance is step toward justice for Ray Ryan, who watched Gingerella grow up. He's the owner of Ryan's Pub where the fatal shooting happened. A memorial still lines the outside.

"I'm just glad he's caught," Ryan said of Hughes.

Catching Hughes wasn't simple. He was found trying to cross the Canadian border less than three days after the murder.

Groton detectives picked him up from New York.

"I shy away from the word closure. I rather say that I hope this provides a level of comfort for the community and for the family of course," said Deputy Chief Paul Gately of the Town of Groton Police Department.

Gingerella's family watched through tears in the courtroom. His stepdad, newly elected state representative Joe de la Cruz gripped a framed picture of his son.

The family didn't want to talk on camera. But made a statement on Dec. 13, the day Hughes was captured: "We all love (Gingerella) and know his legacy well growth through the work of his friends and family," de la Cruz said.

Gingerella's family started a support group for families battling addiction called Community Speaks Out. Gingerella was known for sharing his experience with addiction to help others.

Hughes is expected back in court in January.

Photo Credit: Groton Town Police Department
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