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New Law Strengthens Rules on Children's Car Seats


Beginning this fall, a new law goes into effect strengthening Connecticut’s passenger safety laws for children.

Starting October 1, children must remain rear facing until they are 2 years old and they weigh 30 pounds. Previously, the law said infants were rear facing until they were 1 year old and 20 pounds.

What about for older children in a 5-point harness seat?

The law previously stated they had to be in one until they weigh 40 pounds. The new law adds they must also be in the harness seat until the age of 5.

Children must also use a booster seat until they weigh 60 pounds and are 8 years old; that’s a year longer than the old law.

Associate Director at the Injury Prevention Center at Connecticut Children’s Medical Center Kevin Borrup said with 40,000 people nationwide killed in crashes last year, anything to keep children safe is worth it.

“When children sit in a vehicle and they’re not appropriately restrained, they can fail to be restrained by the restraints that are there and seriously be injured in a crash or having the seatbelts positioned incorrectly on them can cause injury as well,” Said Borrup.

Safety experts say keeping young kids in rear-facing seats creates a cradling effect to better protect them in a crash and spending more time in them will only protect them more.

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

Tree Crashes Down Onto Milford Home; Family Escapes Unharmed


A Milford family escaped their home unharmed when a massive tree came down during Thursday’s storms.

The owner of the damaged home on Lindy Street told NBC Connecticut he his wife and child were all home Thursday afternoon when a tree was uprooted by heavy winds and came crashing down on their house, taking out the living and dining rooms.

Thankfully the family was at the opposite end of the house and all escaped unharmed.

The homeowner said the timing was particularly frustrating because they had just replaced the roof - roofers had left the home just a few hours before the incident.

The tree caused major damage and the family will have to stay somewhere else at least for the night.

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

Rider to Honor Mom Battling Breast Cancer at Closer to Free


It has been less than three months since Sierra Hajek’s mother Lara detected a lump that doctors determined was breast cancer.

“I thought when she was diagnosed I want to do something that I could about it and I decided I can do the Closer to Free Ride,” Sierra told NBC Connecticut.

The Closer to Free ride raises funds for the Smilow Cancer Hospital and Yale Cancer Center. Lara was planning to ride for the first time, but chemotherapy treatment will prevent her from doing so.

“I rarely ride my bike,” said 13-year-old Sierra.

But she is planning to pedal for 25 miles on ride day in September because her mom learned of her diagnosis on April 25.

“She’s been really strong,” Sierra, who is from Killingworth, said. “She’s always had a positive attitude and she’s not letting it get to her, she’s continuing her everyday life.”

Lara has also been finding the strength to help her daughter train.

“Couple times a week I will go around either me and my mom or me and my dad,” Sierra said, “and we will go just for a long bike ride to see how far we can get and we keep adding more miles every time.”

Even as a first time rider, Sierra is serving as the captain of Lara’s Army. She’s wearing a pink bracelet with the team name on her.

“We gave these out to a lot of our friends and family to show that she has people who stand behind her and her 'army' and people love her,” Sierra said.

While she tried on a Closer to Free jersey for her interview with NBC Connecticut, on ride day Sierra plans to proudly wear a special jersey designed by her uncle.

“It’s all pink with breast cancer signs and on the back it has a big ribbon that says Lara’s Army and on the side it say’s Lara’s Army,” she said.

There is still plenty of time to sign up and get involved before the Closer to Free ride day on Saturday, Sept. 9. All of the funds raised support patient care and critical research at the Smilow Cancer Hospital and Yale Cancer Center.

NBC Connecticut is a proud media sponsor for Closer to Free. We will continue sharing personal stories of member in the Closer to Free community between now and ride day.

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

1970s Ford F100 Pickup Stolen in East Windsor


East Windsor police are searching for two suspects accused of stealing a 1970s Ford F100 pickup that was parked at the Broad Brook Garage on Main Street.

Police said two male suspects who drove up in a grey or silver Dodge Dakota pickup stole the truck around 2 p.m. Thursday afternoon.

Anyone with information on this crime is asked to contact East Windsor police at 860-292-8240.

Photo Credit: East Windsor Police Department

Wallingford Man Accused of Selling Heroin Out of His Home


Wallingford police have arrested a man accused of selling heroin out of his home.

Jarrod Hastings, 36, is accused of selling heroin from his home at 39 Hoffman Court in Wallingford. Police said multiple purchases were made from Hastings with help from a police informant.

Hastings is charged with sale of heroin and possession of heroin. He was held on a $15,000 bond and is due in court on July 27.

Photo Credit: Wallingford Police Department

Branford Police Seize $2M-Worth of Drugs During Traffic Stop


Branford police have arrested a Ohio man after finding $2 million-worth of narcotics during a traffic stop, according to police.

Carlos Alberto Hernandez-Salazar, 27, of Canton, Ohio, faces charges of possession of narcotics with intent to sell, criminal attempt for possession of narcotics, and risk of injury to a minor.

Branford police said that around 5:15 p.m. Wednesday an officer stopped a vehicle because it had heavily tinted windows. During the traffic stop the officer thought that the driver and Hernandez-Salazar were acting unusually nervous and suspicious. There were two children in the car at the time.

Hernandez-Salazar allowed officers to search the trunk, where they found eight packages of suspected narcotics inside a duffel bag. Laboratory analysis later confirmed the narcotics were a mixture of fentanyl and tramadol. The estimated street value was $2 million.

Hernandez-Salazar was held on a $250,000 bond and was arraigned Thursday.

Branford Police Chief Kevin Halloran was pleased with the officers’ work.

“Our community, along with many others throughout our nation has been plagued with this extremely dangerous drug. Its use has resulted in the loss of life of many of our citizens. I’m hopeful that this good work by our officers has prevented the possibility of another opioid related death,” he wrote in a media release.

Photo Credit: Branford Police Department

Stafford Man Accused of Sexually Assaulting 12-Year-Old Girl


Connecticut State Police have arrested a 20-year-old man accused of sexually assaulting a 12-year-old girl.

Matthew Noto, 20, of Stafford, was charged with sexual assault of a minor and risk of injury to a minor.

According to the arrest warrant, the investigation began in June when one of the victim’s classmates came forward and told police that a classmate told her about a relationship with an older boy. The witness said that her classmate was 12 and that she thought the boy was maybe 17 or 18.

When police spoke to the victim, she told them she had sex with Noto once and they did not use a condom. The victim told police that Noto told her not to tell her friends that they had sex.

The arrest warrant states that when police spoke with Noto, he admitted to having sex with the victim, but said he thought she was 15 going on 16.

Noto was arrested Thursday. His bond was set at $5,000 and is due in court on July 24.

Photo Credit: Connecticut State Police

Ex-Soviet Counter-Intel Officer Was at Trump Team Meeting


The Russian lawyer who met with the Trump team after a promise of compromising material on Hillary Clinton was accompanied by a Russian-American lobbyist — a former Soviet counterintelligence officer who is suspected by some U.S. officials of having ongoing ties to Russian intelligence, NBC News has learned.

The lobbyist, who denies any current ties to Russian spy agencies, accompanied the lawyer, Natalia Veselnitskaya, to the June 2016 meeting at Trump Tower attended by Donald Trump Jr.; Jared Kushner, the president's son-in-law; and Paul Manafort, former chairman of the Trump campaign.

The Russian-born American lobbyist served in the Soviet military and emigrated to the U.S., where he holds dual citizenship.

The Associated Press identified the lobbyist as Rinat Akhmetshin, and said he acknowledged attending the meeting.

Contacted by NBC News, representatives for Kushner and Manafort declined to comment. Alan Futerfas, the attorney retained by Donald Trump Jr., told NBC News two other people accompanied Veselnitskaya to the meeting — someone Futerfas described as a translator and someone he described as a "friend of Emin [Agalarov]’s and maybe as a friend of Natalia [Veselnitskaya]’s.”

Photo Credit: AP Photos, File

Not Everyone's Laughing When Police Shame Suspects on Facebook


A driver mows down six mailboxes, slurs her words and tells police she has a lizard in her bra. Throw in a wisecracking police officer, and what do you get? A flippant post on Facebook, along with photos of the woman, and of course, her lizard.

Not everyone is amused.

Police departments are increasingly using Facebook to inform the community about what they're doing and who they're arresting. Some add a little humor to the mix. But civil rights advocates say posting mugshots and written, pejorative descriptions of suspects amounts to public shaming of people who have not yet been convicted.

"It makes them the butt of a joke on what for many people is probably their worst day," said Arisha Hatch, campaign director of Color of Change, a civil rights advocacy organization that recently got Philadelphia police to stop posting mugshots on its Special Operations Facebook page.

"The impact of having a mugshot posted on social media for all to see can be incredibly damaging for folks that are parents, for folks that have jobs, for folks that have lives they have to come back to," she said.

In Taunton, a city of 57,000 about 40 miles south of Boston, the police department's post about the woman with a lizard in her bra was shared around Facebook and got heavy news coverage.

Lt. Paul Roderick wrote that Amy Rebello-McCarthy hit mailboxes, sending some airborne, before her car left the road, tore up a lawn and came to rest among trees. When police arrived, she asked them to call a tow truck so she and a male companion "could be on their way," Roderick wrote.

"Sorry Amy, we can't move the car right now. If we do, what will you use to hold yourself up?" he wrote.

Roderick described how she told police she had a lizard.

"Where does one hold a Bearded Dragon Lizard while driving you ask? Answer: In their brassiere of course!!"

Many commenters praised police. "Great job (getting drunks off the road and entertaining us)," one woman wrote.

But others said the tone was inappropriate.

"Hey Taunton Police Department ... Your holier than thou attitude is part of the reason why people don't like/don't respect police," one man wrote.

Rebello-McCarthy, who has pleaded not guilty to drunken driving and other charges, did not respond to attempts for comment.

Police have traditionally made mugshots and details on suspects available to journalists for publication. But journalists, for the most part, selectively choose to write stories and use mugshots based on the severity or unusual nature of the crime. Many crimes don't get any coverage.

Roderick said everything he wrote in the posting about Rebello-McCarthy was true.

"I guess I don't see a problem with it," he said in an interview.

"Can you go too far? I guess you could. I don't think I did. I'm just trying to report what's happening."

Still, Roderick did get a mild reprimand from the police chief. "He basically said, 'Tone it down a little bit,'" Roderick said.

Jaleel Bussey, 24, of Philadelphia, said he nearly got kicked out of a cosmetology school when instructors saw his mugshot on Facebook. Bussey was charged in 2016 after drugs were found during a police search of a house he was visiting to style a client's hair. Most of the charges were dismissed before trial; he was acquitted of the final charge, according to the Philadelphia public defender's office.

Bussey said he was allowed to continue school after explaining that he did not have any drugs and that the charges had been dropped. He felt humiliated, he said, when his family and teachers saw his mugshot.

"I was angry at the time," he said. "I was found not guilty. They're just putting people's faces up there like it's OK."

Some posts are more humorous than hurtful. In Marietta, Georgia, police poked fun at a man suspected of shoplifting from a pawn shop.

"Sir, you must have forgot that you gave the clerk your driver's license with ALL of your personal information as well as providing him with your fingerprint when completing the pawn ticket before you stole from him which, by the way was also all on camera. ... When you make it this easy it takes all the fun out of chasing bad guys!" police wrote in December.

In some communities, posting mugshots and glib write-ups has created a backlash.

In South Burlington, Vermont, Police Chief Trevor Whipple was in favor of posting mugshots at first, but then he started noticing disparaging comments about everything from suspects' hairstyles to their intelligence. The department stopped the practice after about a year.

"Do we want to use our Facebook page to shame people?" Whipple said. "Legally, there's no problem — all mugshots are public — but the question became, is this what we want to do?"

Photo Credit: AP Photo/Stephan Savoia

West Hartford Man Charged With Sex Assault in Canton


A West Hartford man has been charged with fourth-degree sexual assault and risk of injury to a minor in Canton after the state Department of Children and Families reached out to them about allegations of a sex offense.

Police said they arrested 72-year-old Joseph Sterling, of West Hartford, after a two-month long investigation, but no additional information has been released on the allegations.

Sterling was released on a $10,000 bond and is due in court on July 20.

Photo Credit: Canton Police

2 Arrested After Chase from Somers Into Springfield Ends in Stafford


Two people have been arrested on drug and weapons charges after a police chase that crossed state lines early Friday morning. 

State police said the two suspects damaged two state police cruisers and were found with oxycodone pills and Fentanyl. 

The chase started in Somers when a state trooper working an impaired driving detail noticed a gold Nissan Altima cross the double yellow line on Route 190 at 1:38 a.m., according to state police.

The state trooper followed the car into Stafford and ended the chase there, according to state police.

During the pursuit, a passenger, 37-year-old Hector Arocho, of New Britain, tried to report the vehicle stolen to New Britain Police, police said. 

Troopers tried to stop the Altima as the driver fled north onto Route 83 in Somers, but he managed to avoid police by taking several back roads into East Longmeadow, Massachusetts.

East Longmeadow police chased the car into Springfield, at which point Springfield police tried to stop the car, but lost sight of it on city streets.

A short time later, Massachusetts State Police found the car on Interstate 91 south and tried to stop it, but the driver crossed back into Connecticut, where State Troopers from Troop H-Hartford used stop sticks to try and stop the car. Still, the driver was able to avoid them, state police said. He got off the highway at exit 47E and went into Enfield, where Enfield police chased the car on Route 190. 

As the vehicle approached the Somers town line, state troopers from Troop C started chasing the car again and tried to box it in on Route 190, approaching the Stafford town line, but the driver rammed the back of the trooper's Dodge Charger, causing minor damage, state police said. 

A second Trooper's vehicle also sustained minor front-end damage. 

As the Altima came to a stop, the driver and a passenger ran, according to state police. Authorities quickly apprehended the driver, later identified as 45-year-old Alfredo Claudio, of Hartford. 

State police then used a stun gun on a passenger, 37-year-old Hector Arocho, of New Britain, when he tried to get away, state police said. 

Inside the car, state police found a loaded .38 special revolver in the vehicle, oxycodone pills and Fentanyl, police said. A third passenger was released at the scene. 

Arocho was charged with interfering with an officer and criminal attempt to falsely report an incident and was held on a $10,000 surety bond.

Claudio was charged with criminal possession of a pistol, second-degree criminal attempt/assault with a motor vehicle, second-degree reckless endangerment, assault on a public safety officer, weapon in a motor vehicle, carrying a pistol without a permit, possession of narcotics, engaging police in a pursuit and additional motor vehicle violations.

He was held on a $100,000 bond.

Both are scheduled to appear in court in Rockville today.

Photo Credit: Connecticut State Police

Office of State Ethics Examines Hiring of Edsall's Son


A draft opinion from a state panel takes issue with the way UConn head football coach Randy Edsall hired his son as an assistant.

The Office of State Ethics, in a draft advisory opinion, says Corey Edsall should only remain with the program until his one year contract expires in January.

The office looked into the matter because under Connecticut law, state employees who are family members can work in the same department, but there are restrictions if one supervises the other.

Corey Edsall, who was hired at a tight ends coach in January, has a contract that runs from Jan. 9, 2017 to Jan. 14, 2018 and his salary is $95,000. 

The Office of State Ethics will not comment, except to say the full board will likely decide to accept, reject, or modify the draft advisory opinion at its meeting next week.

Read the draft advisory opinion for the office of state ethics online here

Read the draft recommended order here.

UConn released a statement on the matter. Folliowing is the full statement from UConn spokesperson Stephanie Reitz.

"Randy Edsall was not a state employee when his contract was being negotiated or when he received his offer letter. He did not become a state employee until he performed work for which he was entitled to be paid.  The offer letter makes clear that date was Jan. 3, 2017.

"Individuals hired by the state do not become state employees when they accept an offer of employment; they become state employees when they actually begin their jobs at the state. For example, if someone accepts an offer of state employment, but will not start their state job for six weeks, the code of ethics does not apply to them during that six-week period. It applies when they begin working for the state. This is a well-established precedent in Connecticut which has been understood and applied in cases for decades.

"In fact, the Office of State Ethics confirmed for UConn before Randy Edsall was offered employment that the Code of Ethics does not prohibit a candidate from negotiating employment for a family member as a condition of their own employment.

"In this instance, the advisory board is attempting to hold Coach Edsall and the university to a different standard than others are held to, which defies longstanding Connecticut precedent. An irrelevant case from Michigan is cited in the board’s opinion, rather than Connecticut law.   

"The code of ethics does not forbid family members working in the same state departments, offices, or units as a family member who is a state employee. What the code of ethics forbids is a state employee using their employment for the financial benefit of a family member. In this case, employment and financial decisions regarding Corey Edsall – and Corey Edsall’s supervisor – are in the hands of the Athletic Director, not Coach Edsall. By establishing this management plan, the university is in compliance with the code of ethics. 

"UConn respectfully disagrees with the board’s opinion, which seeks to apply a different standard in this case than has been applied in other cases in Connecticut for nearly 30 years." 

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

Woman's Conviction for Senate Hearing Chuckle Is Overturned


A judge has overturned the conviction of a woman found to have disrupted Congress by laughing during Attorney General Jeff Sessions' confirmation hearing and ordered a new trial, NBC News reported.

Desiree Fairooz, a 61-year-old Code Pink activist, allegedly chuckled twice during the Jan. 10 hearing when Sessions, then a U.S. senator, was described as having a record of "treating all Americans equally under the law is clear and well-documented," according to court documents. Fellow activists characterized it as a reflex to an absurd statement.

Fairooz was facing up to six months in prison, but a District of Columbia Superior Court Judge Robert E. Morin ordered a new trial on Friday, court officials said. Fairooz said had an issue with the conviction.

"Well, I can’t say relieved. I’m not happy about [the re-trial] but I guess, in a way, it’s a small kind of a win. It just seems like an absurd waste of tax dollars," Fairooz said.

Photo Credit: Andrew Harnik/AP, File

Woman Found Passed Out, Child Covered in Flies in Putnam


A Putnam woman who state police found passed out in a home was arrested after troopers found a child covered in flies and bug bites, with drug paraphernalia nearby, according to state police.

Police said they went to an East Putnam home just before 10 a.m. Thursday while investigating an earlier disturbance and found a door damaged.

No one answered responded to troopers, but they went inside after seeing a young child who was wearing an overflowing diaper and was covered in bug bites and flies, according to the state police Troop D Quality of Life Task Force. 

When troopers went inside to check on the child, they saw drug paraphernalia within the child's reach, according to the state police.

Kristen Corey, 37, of Putnam was found passed out in a nearby bedroom and state police tried to wake her. She was later arrested and charged with risk of injury to a child and possession of drug paraphernalia and held on a $50,000. 

The state Department of Children and Families opened their own investigation and took custody of the child. It's not clear what Corey's relationship is to the child.

NBC Connecticut has reached out to state police for additional information.  

Photo Credit: CT State Police Troop D Quality of Life Task Force

Four State Swimming Areas Closed

Downed Tree and Power Lines Closes Route 63 in Naugatuck


Route 63 in Naugatuck is closed after a tree came down and brought wires with it. Police warn the road could be closed for several hours. 

Police said Route 63, or North Church Street, is closed in both directions near Route 68. 

It’s not clear how many people are without power, but utilities have been contacted. 

Police are asking people to plan ahead and use alternate routes to avoid delays.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

'You Are Evil': Voters Blast Trump Election Fraud Panel


Voters across the country slammed President Donald Trump’s commission on voter fraud in public comments sent to the panel, calling it “evil” and “vile” for requesting personal data from all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

The Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity's request for extensive information about voters ignited a bipartisan firestorm from officials who oversee elections. So far, 48 states are not fully complying with the panel’s request, according to an NBC News count.

Many officials and watchdogs have expressed disbelief and outrage at the request — some info is confidential or sensitive, they say — and the public comment request from the commission ahead of its first meeting next week was a chance for voters to weigh in.

The comments, released Thursday, ranged from thoughtful critiques to profanity-laden tirades.

"You are evil. Pray there is no hell,” wrote one critic.

Photo Credit: AP/File

S&P 500 Closes at Record, Topping June High


Stocks rose to record levels on Friday as earnings season kicked off, CNBC reported.

The S&P climbed 0.6 percent to close at 2,459.27, setting intraday and closing records. The index's previous intraday record was 2,453.82, which was set June 19.

The Dow Jones industrial average closed 84.65 points higher at 21,637.74, a record. The 30-stock index also notched an intraday record.

The Nasdaq composite outperformed the Dow and the S&P, rising 0.6 percent to close at 6,312.47.

Photo Credit: AP

White Powder Sparks Hazmat Scare in Terryville


Emergency crews responded to a hazmat situation on Agney Avenue, in the Terryville section of town on Friday.

According to police, someone found a white, powdery substance in a plastic baggie under a mailbox around 2:30 p.m.

Police, firefighters an ambulance, as well as crews from the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection and the U.S. Postal Inspector all responded to the scene.

The substance was taken to a state lab for testing, police said.

Photo Credit: Erica Smith

Trump Hires New Lawyer Amid Russia Investigation


President Donald Trump is adding to his growing roster of lawyers handling investigations into Russian interference in the 2016 election, NBC News confirmed Friday.

Veteran Washington lawyer Ty Cobb is the latest to join the president's legal team, a White House official said. Cobb will spearhead responses to media inquiries related to the ongoing Russia probes and work with attorney Marc Kasowitz, who is leading the Trump team.

The new hire comes at at time when a number of key figures — both inside and outside the White House — have retained legal counsel.

Cobb is a partner at Hogan Lovells, the same firm headed into a Supreme Court battle against the Trump administration on the president's controversial travel ban. He is a relative of the Hall-of-Fame baseball player with the same name.

Photo Credit: AP Photo/Evan Vucci/File
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