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Woman's Body Found on West Haven Beach


A woman's body was found on the beach in West Haven Tuesday morning, according to police.

West Haven police said officers and fire crews responded to the Altschuler Pier around 9:40 a.m. for reports of an unresponsive woman on the beach. Paramedics declared the woman, described as being in her 40s, dead on scene.

Detectives are actively investigating. No other information was immediately available.

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

Ex-Youth Basketball League Treasurer Makes Plea Deal


The former treasurer of the North Branford Youth Basketball League accused of stealing $20,000 from the organization has reached a plea bargain with her prosecution, according to a North Branford Youth Basketball board member.

Board members of the North Branford Youth Basketball League reached out to police in November 2014 about possible finance improprieties by the treasurer at the time, Donna Ricci, and said she refused to provide financial records that she controlled, according to police.

After investigation, Ricci was charged with first-degree larceny in February 2016.

According to the North Branford Youth Basketball League, Ricci reached a plea bargain where she was granted accelerated rehabilitation provided she pays their organization back $40,000 in restitution.

Board members said they have already received $10,000 of that money and the remaining balance is scheduled to be paid back over the next 18 months.

Ricci will be on probation for two years, but provided she follows the order, the charges will be dropped.

The organization said it feels the agreement helps them move forward from the incident. Board members released the following statement:

“North Branford Youth Basketball would like to thank the North Branford Police Department, the Connecticut States Attorney’s Office and the Connecticut Judicial Branch on their due diligence in resolving this issue with full restitution. We can now move forward and continue to provide as many young athletes the opportunity to develop their skills, learn life lessons and enjoy the game of basketball.”

North Branford police confirmed the information from the board was accurate.

Photo Credit: North Branford Police

CSP Enforcement: 6 Fatal Crashes, Thousands of Violations


Connecticut State police responded to six fatal accidents, made dozens of DUI arrests and issued thousands of violations over the Christmas holiday period this year.

State police holiday enforcement began at midnight on Dec. 22 and ran through 11:59 p.m. on Jan. 2 Troopers conducted increased patrols and sobriety checkpoints were set up throughout the state during this period.

State police arrested 95 people on DUI charges, issued 2,553 speeding tickets, 92 seat belt violations, and issued citations for 5,781 other moving violations. They also assisted nearly 1,000 disabled motorists.

State police responded to a total of 1,143 accidents, compared to 461 this time last year. Of those, six were fatal, one involved a serious injury, and 143 others involved some kind of minor injury. They also took over the investigation of fatal accident from a local agency.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Clintons, George W. Bush to Attend Trump's Inauguration


Donald Trump's inauguration as the nation's 45th president will be witnessed by Bill and Hillary Clinton, as well as George W. Bush. 

Clinton aides confirmed to NBC News Tuesday that the Clintons will be in attendance. Hillary Clinton lost the Electoral College vote to Trump after a bruising, bitter campaign. 

Bush's press office announced Tuesday that the 43rd American president and his wife, Laura, will be at the Jan. 20 ceremony. 

"They are pleased to be able to witness the peaceful transfer of power - a hallmark of American democracy - and swearing-in of President Trump and Vice President Pence," a Bush statement said.

The Bushes did not endorse or vote for Trump for president, leaving that field blank on their ballots while voting Republican the rest of the way down.

The Presidential Inaugural Committee's announced Friday the 40 organizations, including several military and veterans groups, that will march in Trump's inaugural parade.

Photo Credit: Getty Images, File

Freight Train Cars Derail in Brookfield


Several freight train cars have derailed in Brookfield, according to police. 

A post on the Brookfield Police Department Facebook page says cars on a northbound freight train, carrying what appears to be garbage or construction debris, derailed along a straight section of track this afternoon. 

No injuries are reported, according to police, and the loads on the train cars appear to have remained in the cars. 

Police said the railroad reports there are no hazardous materials involved and railroad officials are at the scene to evaluate the situation and determine how to make repairs.

Officials from the fire marshals office said the train was hauling trash and no emergency services were called to the scene.

Photo Credit: Brookfield Police

Austin Haughwout Charged With Possessing Child Porn Again


A Clinton, Connecticut, man who posted online videos of flying drones shooting a gun and a flamethrower in his backyard has been arrested and accused of possessing child pornography again, police said.

Austin Haughwout first made headlines when he built a drone with a semi-automatic gun attached and posted a video of it on YouTube with the title "flying gun." The video showed a gun affixed to a drone discharging several times while hovering several feet off the ground in a wooded area.

Since the FAA's investigation into the flying-gun-shooting drones, Haughwout has been arrested mutliple times and kicked out of school. 

Haughwout was expelled from Central Connecticut State University for allegedly threatening to shoot people in 2015. Police said in July of that year he was charged with attacking police officers in the lobby of the Clinton Police Department. 

The 20-year-old denied threatening allegations and said the drones were the real reason for being kicked out. 

On June 29, 2016, he was arrested on child pornography and attempted sexual assault charges.

Last year, Haughwout turned himself in to police for an outstanding warrant and was charged with enticing a minor, fourth-degree attempted sexual assault and risk of injury to a minor last year in October. 

Haughwout was released on a promise to appear and will appear in court on Jan. 10. 

Photo Credit: Clinton Police

Police Arrest Suspect in Waterbury Factory Fire


Waterbury police have arrested a suspect in a massive fire on New Year's Eve in an abandoned factory building at the intersection of South Main Street and Pearl Lake Road and charged him with arson. 

The fire broke out around 8:50 p.m. Saturday inside the old factory building that authorities said was a manufacturing mill that has been abandoned for 10 to 15 years. The fire continued smoldering until Monday morning.

The fire marshal deternined the fire was set and investigators identified Timothy Carlson as a person of interest from surveillance video.

Police spoke with him on Monday and obtained a warrant charging Carlson withsecond-degree criminal trespass, third-degree arson and first-degree reckless endangerment.  

He was held on a 250,000 bond and was transported to Waterbury Superior Court this morning for arraignment.

Poice said the investigation is still active and ongoing.   

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com and Waterbury Police

Police Search for Men Who Robbed Westville Quality Market in New Haven


Police are looking for the people who robbed Westville Quality Market in New Haven on Dec. 29. 

Police responded to the market at 5:41 p.m. after the owner called police to report the robbery and the store owner said he was entertaining a customer in the shop when two masked men came in. One had a “pump-action” shotgun and raised the shotgun and pointed it at him, police said. 

The armed robber ordered the store owner to raise his hands and step aside, then he went behind the counter as the other person acted as the lookout at the front door. 

When the robber couldn’t figure out how to open the register drawer, he ordered the owner to open it. They owner complied and pleaded with the man to take the money and otherwise leave them alone, police said. 

The robbers also took wallets from two of the owner’s friends and stole a cell phone as well, police said. 

As the robbers fled, a customer who was entering noticed the car and told police it was an older, silver or gold four-door sedan, possibly a Pontiac or Saturn, that went east on West Elm Street. 

Police said the vehicle matched one police suspected was involved in two Fair Haven robberies a day earlier. Officers spotted the car at 6:04 p.m. and chased it, but the driver got away. 

The car was later spotted abandoned and running at 7:34 p.m. in the 200 block of Blake Street, but the robbers remain at large. 

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Hartford Man Arrested After Multi-State Chase Into Vermont


A Connecticut man is facing charges after police say he led officers on a motor vehicle pursuit from Massachusetts to Vermont. 

According to Vermont State Police, Elvin Gonzalez, 39, of Hartford, fled a Massachusetts State Police officer who tried to stop him on Interstate 91 Monday night around 11:30 p.m. 

Officers noticed the suspect’s vehicle near mile marker 24 in Vermont and tried to stop him, but Gonzalez allegedly fled in his vehicle. The chase continued to mile marker 39, where three of his tires were disabled with spikes. 

Gonzalez’s vehicle went across the median and into the woods on the other side of the highway. He fled on foot and was later located and arrested. 

He is facing charges of attempting to elude, driving under the influence, excessive speed and gross negligent operation. 

Gonzalez was ordered held on $50,000 bail and is due in court Tuesday. 

Possible Irregularities in Ansonia Tax Office: Investigation


Police are investigating possible irregularities in the Ansonia tax office. 

Police said Ansonia Mayor David Cassetti requested help from police on Tuesday and the department has begun investigating. 

No additional information was immediately available.

Woman Warming Hand Towel Starts Fire at Milford Residence


A woman trying to warm a hand towel unintentionally lit the exterior of his Milford home, fire officials said. 

Milford firefighters were called to Ward Street at 2 p.m. for a small fire on the front wall of the home. 

The homeowner said she was trying to heat a hand towel in the microwave when she noticed it started to discolor. She removed the towel and placed it outside on her mailbox as a precaution before going inside the house, Milford Fire Rescue said. 

The towel caught on fire and spread to a wooden decoration mounted on the mailbox, before spreading to the house's siding, firefighters said. 

A neighbor saw the small blaze and alerted the homeowner. 

No injuries were reported. 

Photo Credit: Anthony Fabrizi

Trooper Shoots Man in Burlington: State Police


A police officer shot an armed man while responding to an incident in Burlington on Tuesday afternoon and Central District Major Crime and the state attorney’s office have responded to the scene. 

State police said troopers responded to Angela’s Way around 1:30 p.m. to investigate a suspicious incident and a person threatening to harm himself and found a man with a gun. He refused orders to drop his weapon and at least one trooper shot at least one round from a duty weapon and hit the man, police said. 

The man was transported to St. Francis Hospital and does not appear to have life-threatening injuries.

Killingly Administrator, 2 Students Die Over New Year's Weekend


Killingly School District lost two students and an assistant principal over the holiday weekend.

The first day back from winter break was spent comforting and consoling teachers and students.

“We're devastated," said Killingly Intermediate School Principal Heather Taylor.

Taylor said her students and staff were reeling at the loss of two beloved members of their school family. Longtime assistant principal Steve Tagen, 68, was found dead of natural causes in his home on Monday.

“He is certainly the veteran administrator in the entire district. He always saw the child before the student," she recalled.

Emma Adams, who spent her middle school years Killingly Intermediate, lost her battle with brain cancer on Friday.

“Emma just had a contagious smile. She cared very deeply for many of our staff," said Taylor.

Taylor said Emma loved animals and recently took a trip to Florida with her family to swim with dolphins.

The district also lost 16-year-old Ryan French on Monday. State Police said he struck a railroad bridge abutment while driving on Interstate 395 around 11:30 am. The cause of the crash was still under investigation Tuesday.

French, who ran on the cross-country team, was also a member of the Agriculture Education Program at Killingly High School. He was interested in natural resources, according to teacher Ken Couture.

Couture described French as, “a really great kid who would step up when you needed some help.” French, a junior, was also an alternate representative for the District's Board of Education, which allows students to give input at board meetings. Interim Superintendent Lynne Pierson said only two seniors and two juniors are chosen for the prestigious positions.

Pierson said counselors would be available to staff members, students, and their families as long as necessary.

“In a small community like Killingly, where there is great heart, there’s closeness. People are related to each other, they know each other, they’re neighbors, friends. Children have attended school together for years. So, it makes it more touching and difficult. The impact is felt well beyond the walls of the schools," she explained.

Taylor said many students in her school made cards and created artwork for Tagen's family to express their own grief about his passing.

“Many people just sought out Mr. Tagen some of them on a daily basis simply for comfort and support, and he would stop whatever he was doing and provide that with no judgment," Taylor explained. " He has formed bonds with every single student who has passed through these walls, and every single faculty member both young and old. He will be missed.”

Both the boys and girls high school basketball games scheduled for Tuesday night were postponed.

NAACP Stages Sit-in to Protest Sessions' AG Nomination


The NAACP's national president is leading a sit-in at the Mobile, Alabama, office of U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions to protest his nomination to be the country's next attorney general, NBC News reported.

Cornell William Brooks posted a photo on Twitter of himself with other demonstrators, pledging to stay at the office until Sessions withdraws his name from consideration "or we're arrested."

The Senate Judiciary Committee is scheduled to begin hearings on Sessions' nomination Jan. 10, with many civil rights groups standing in opposition.

Sessions is one of the incoming administration's loudest voices for stepping up immigration enforcement, and has argued against expanding protections for LGBT people.

The NAACP cited his controversial record with blacks, including his attempts to prosecute charges of voter fraud by black civil rights activists when he was the U.S. attorney in Mobile in the 1980s, and his failed nomination to the federal bench, which was scuttled by allegations of racist remarks.

Photo Credit: Getty Images
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Comptroller Urges Approval of Pension Payment Deal


Comptroller Kevin Lembo says unless Republicans have a better idea for how to ease pension payments through 2045, then they need to get out of the way of the deal negotiated by the Malloy administration last month.

“If not this, then what?" Lembo asked during an interview Tuesday. "Someone else needs to come up with a better idea and I haven’t seen one yet, so if you’ve got a leadership role, you have the reins of authority, you have to put your ideas on the table.”

The deal to which Lembo is referring was struck by Gov. Malloy's administration and SEBAC, the coalition of state unions that negotiates benefits.

The agreement stretches payments passed the expected "fiscal cliff" date of 2032, out to 2046. That extension reduces annual pension payments made by the state, and it avoids what is projected to be a $6 billion payment in 2032 which could amount to more than 30 percent of the state's total operating budget.

“There’s a deal on the table" Lembo said. "It’s not the deal that any of us would write in a vacuum but it gets the job done and it really preserves budgets well into the future and in doing so preserves important services that the State of Connecticut needs to provide.”

Republicans have called for a new policy that would mandate votes on all union contracts by the General Assembly. The agreement struck by the Malloy administration will go into effect automatically unless lawmakers vote "No" on the deal within thirty days.

Rep. Themis Klarides, the House Minority Leader said of a possible vote, “I don’t know of anything else that’s more important, so we’ll see what comes up.”

Sen. Len Fasano, the incoming Republican president pro tempore, said if the vote was held tomorrow, then he would vote against it because of higher interest payments over a longer period of time.

However, Fasano did say, "I still want to see more information before any vote is taken."

Fasano would support having the deal taken up for debate during the thirty day window.

Rep. Joe Aresimowicz, the expected next Speaker of the House, anticipated that the deal would pass the House without issue.

Lembo said the state can't leave a deal like this one hanging in the balance when so much of the budget is uncertain.

"These are big numbers in a $20 billion budget so something needs to be done," Lembo said. 

New Haven Bus Riders Still Waiting for GPS Tracking System


On a rainy Tuesday afternoon, New Haven bus riders wish the Connecticut Department of Transportation’s GPS tracking system was already up and running.

“They’re not really usually there when they’re supposed to be there,” Jennifer Croll said, waiting for her bus by the New Haven Green. “If you had the GPS, you would actually know how far behind you’re running, if you need to call a cab, make other alternatives and it would be easier to get to and from where you’re going.”

The CT DOT encourages regular bus riders to utilize apps like Transit App, which Jasmin Johnson has downloaded on her phone.

“Right there it shows where the stop is,” she said. “But location is unavailable.”

The DOT is behind schedule in rolling out the GPS tracking system for the nearly 130 CT Transit buses in the Elm City. Gov. Dannel Malloy announced the program back in August 2015.

“It’s pretty decent,” Johnson said of bus service in New Haven, “you have your off days, but it’s pretty decent, I’m grateful for it.”

New Haven bus riders hoped this technology would have been available before the cold and wet winter months.

“Yeah, cause I live right next door to the bus stop,” Croll said, “so I literally could have waited in my house until I saw the bus was close, instead of standing out in the snow for 20 minutes.”

A DOT spokesperson emailed NBC Connecticut saying third party apps like Transit App and Google Maps are using the real-time bus tracking data in Hartford.

“It’s January in Connecticut,” Johnson said, “it would be great to know really where the bus is and how much longer I have to wait.”

The DOT is looking at January field test of the new technology in New Haven with the hope of launching the system the next month.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Higher Sales Taxes Could Be Used to Help Distressed Connecticut Cities


State taxpayers might be asked to help ease the burden of some of the state's most cash-strapped cities.

A proposal has been floated in the State Capitol, before lawmakers have even taken office for the 2017 session, that could see an increase in sales taxes, and devote that extra revenue to cities like Hartford, New Haven, and Waterbury which are all facing either break-even budget years, or steep budget shortfalls.

In the case of Hartford, the mayor has refused to rule out bankruptcy as a fix for the city's financial woes that go back decades. He's long called for a more comprehensive solution to the city's mounting deficits, projected at $20 million and $50 million over the next two years.

Republican leaders in Hartford were united in saying they want more details from the cities themselves before any decision is made on municipal aid, or any kind of "bailout" measure.

“We need to take a look at how the city is running itself first before I’m willing to say let’s give money to the city I want to see the books and records of the city. I want to see some financial audit for lack of a better term," said Sen. Len Fasano, the incoming Republican President Pro Tem of the State Senate.

When asked specifically about a hike in sales taxes and using that money for cities like Hartford, Fasano said that doesn't solve structural problems, and added, "all that does is pour more money into the system."

Connecticut's 6.35 percent sales tax is the 11th highest state sales tax in the country, but is only 35th as a total sales tax rate because there aren't local sales tax rates in Connecticut.

For instance, Alabama has the 38th highest state sales tax rate at only four percent, but local sales taxes are on average close to five percent, meaning customers could pay close to ten percent in sales taxes.

Rep. Joe Aresimowicz, who was the pick of his caucus to be the next Speaker of the Connecticut House of Representatives, said he's not sure the sales tax proposal is the best idea, but did say something has to be done to help the areas that are struggling.

“We’re losing battles to Boston and New York and to others that have vibrant urban centers. It has to be part of the discussion. I don’t know what the answer is now.”

Lawmakers will start the 2017 Regular Session Wednesday.

Photo Credit: flickr/401(K) 2013

Housing Authority Board Has Monetary Stake in Edgerton School Development Project


The new New London Housing Authority Board of Commissioners recently found out they have a $150,000 investment in a new controversial affordable housing project.

Severalboard members tell NBC Connecticut they're surprised to have this kind of financial stake.

The current board -- which is strapped for cash -- learned the previous board voted to contribute $150,000 to help purchase the $600,000 Edgerton School property. The plan is to use it as replacement housing for Thames River Apartments; a 124-unit highly subsidized housing complex plagued by rodents, mold and a troubled rented boiler system.

"This was a judgment call made by the then executive director and the board of commissioners," said acting New London Housing Authority Executive Director Lee Erdmann.

Erdmann found the resolution, passed April 1, 2016, with no dollar amount attached. So he did some digging.

"I don't know what the standard operating procedure here is at the Housing Authority. I can certainly say that in my experience as a town and city manager, I would always include the dollar amount," he said.

The Edgerton housing project has been met by pushback. It's currently stalled after zoning adjustments were rejected.

Erdmann said he wanted the Board of Commissioners to be aware of the financial investment. It was authorized and approved 4-0 by the previous board under former Housing Authority Executive Director Sue Shontell.

Shontell mutually agreed with the Housing Authority to terminate her employment in November.

The only member still on the board is now Chair Betsy Gibson who said the details on the agreement are hazy since that April meeting was one of her very first. She said she doesn't remember the monetary amount agreed on.

"I don't remember offhand if there was one discussed," Gibson said.

The amount was approved in a special executive session because the board had little time to act. This details on the discussion were not disclosed in Housing Authority Board of Commissioners meeting minutes. Shontell tells NBC Connecticut the monetary investment was discussed with the previous board.

Gibson said she wants to see the project move forward and plans are still being considered.

Affordable Housing and Services Collaborative and Peabody Properties are on board for the project. AHSC formed the F.W. Edgerton LLC.

The New London Housing Authority is still looking for its new executive director. Currently its accepting applications. But they're also exploring the feasibility of contracting with another city's Housing Authority to share services, for example, executive director services, Erdmann said.

Currently the board is in talks with Wallingford and New Haven. Both were recommended by HUD for being well-rounded housing authorities, he added.

Erdmann steps down from his post at the end of the week. Starting Wednesday Jan. 4, former New London City Manager Marty Berliner steps into the acting Housing Authority Executive Director role. He plans to only fill the job for a few weeks, according to Erdmann.

Berliner served as city manager from 2006-2010.

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

Silver Alert for Missing Elderly Man from VA Hospital


The Naugatuck Police Department has issued a Silver Alert for a missing 87-year-old man.

Hubert Piper was last seen at the VA Hospital in West Haven around 3 p.m. on January 3rd.

He is believed to be driving a 2010 white Ford Escape XLT with a CT license plate bearing the letters "PIPR."

The vehicle was tracked via GPS on Route 8 near the Merrit Parkway around 8:05 p.m.

Piper is described as a white male, approximately 5'6" tall weighing 190 pounds. He has gray hair and brown eyes.

He was last seen wearing a blue UConn Huskies jacket.

Anyone with information is asked to call the Naugatuck Police Department at 203-729-5221.

Girl Scouts Celebrate 100 Years With New S'mores Cookies


Girl Scouts cookies fans can look forward to a new flavor that honors an old campfire classic: the s'more. 

In honor of the 100th anniversary of the Girl Scout Cookies, the company has added two s'mores-inspired treats. The ABC Bakers S'mores layers a creme icing and a chocolate coating over a graham cracker wafer. The Little Brownie Bakers version is a "crunchy graham sandwich with creamy chocolate and marshmallow-y filling."

The new flavor pays tribute to the Girl Scouts' history of getting girls outdoors, and of course, enjoying s'mores around the campfire, the organization said in a press release.

The Girl Scouts were one of the first to spread the recipe, publishing it under the name "Some More" in 1925 in a Girl Scout Leader magazine.  

During the six-week 2015-2016 cookie season, girls in the NYC area sold 1,107,524 individual boxes. All proceeds from the annual fundraiser remain in within the five boroughs, with $0.65 per box going directly to the individual troop. 

Customers can use the Cookie Locator App to find the nearest booth sale. The upcoming cookie season is set to begin early this spring.

Photo Credit: Girl Scouts of Northeast Texas
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