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Former Plainville BOE Employee Accused of Embezzling $40K


A Plainville Board of Education employee is accused of embezzling more than $40,000 from the Board of Education and forging documents during the scheme.

Maria Bourlogiannis, 59, was an employee of the accounts payable department at the time. According to police, she embezzled money from the Board of Education from March 2013 until December 2015. She also forged documents to assist in defrauding the board, police said.

The investigation began when discrepancies in the board’s finances were uncovered by the superintendent and reported to police on Aug. 1, 2016.

Police said that Bourlogiannis was terminated from the Board of Education on Aug. 16, 2016.

She was arrested Tuesday and charged with first-degree larceny, and second-degree forgery. She was released on a $50,000 bond and scheduled to appear in court on Aug. 21.

Photo Credit: Plainville Police Department

Ex-Psychologist Accused in Sex Assault of Former Patient


A former Farmington psychologist has been charged with the sexual assault of a former patient.

Police said the 19-year old woman went to police in September 2015 and reported that 67-year-old Dr. Daniel Affrunti, of Farmington, sexually assaulted her in his psychology office on Farmington Avenue. During the investigation, Dr. Affrunti’s license lapsed and the woman chose not to pursue criminal charges, according to police.

On June 15, the same woman told Farmington police detectives that she had been involved in an ongoing sexual relationship with Affrunti in 2016, after the initial investigation had been closed, police said.

That investigation showed the victim, a former patient of Affrunti, was still emotionally dependent on him, police said and Affrunti was arrested, surrendered to Farmington police Wednesday and was charged with second-degree sexual assault. Bond was set at $500,000.

Records posted on the Connecticut Department of Health website say Dr. Affrunti voluntarily agreed not to renew or reinstate his license in November 2015 and his license is inactive. 

It's not clear if Affrunti has an attorney. 

Photo Credit: Farmington Police

Woman Wanted for Questioning in Stratford Larceny


Stratford police are trying to identify a woman wanted for questioning in a larceny incident from July.

Police said the suspect pictured above is wanted for questioning in a larceny/fraud incident. The photo was taken at the Walgreens in Stratford on July 26, 2017.

No other details were immediately released.

Anyone who recognizes her is asked to contact Detective Jennifer Murolo at (203) 385-4127.

Photo Credit: Stratford Police Department

7 Juveniles Arrested After Chase from Westport to Norwalk


Seven juveniles from New Haven have been arrested in connection with a stolen vehicle case and police chase that started in Westport and ended in a crash Norwalk early Wednesday morning, according to police.

Westport police said they responded to Chapel Hill Road around 3:30 a.m. to investigate a report of a motor vehicle theft and saw a gray GMC Acadia speeding on West Parish Road. 

An officer tried to stop the vehicle, but the driver sped off onto the Post Road and tried to hit two police vehicles, police said. The officers were able to avoid the crash and the chase continued west on Post Road East, where Westport officers ended the pursuit because the speeds were high and the pursuit was dangerous, police said.

Norwalk police got involved when Westport police contacted them at 3:42 a.m. after the stolen vehicle fled along Route 1, police said.

A Norwalk patrol officer who saw the GMC on Westport Avenue near Dry Hill Road tried to stop the vehicle, but the driver sped and turned off the headlights, at which point the officer lost sight of the stolen vehicle but broadcast a description and a last know direction of travel, according to police.

Moments later, officers saw the vehicle on the Route 7 connector without the headlights on and tried to catch up to it, but they lost sight of it near exit 3, police said.

When officers arrived at the end the Route 7 Connector, they saw the vehicle on its side along the shoulder of Grist Mill Road and two boys who were outside the vehicle were arrested. Five more male juveniles were arrested after getting out of the car, according to police.

The juveniles were evaluated but none were injured.

Police said four of the boys were wanted in New Haven and one had been reported missing from New Haven.

One juvenile was charged with first-degree larceny, conspiracy to commit larceny in the first degree, interfering with a police officer, reckless operation, engaging in a pursuit and operating without a license.

The other six juveniles were charged with first-degree larceny, conspiracy to commit larceny in the first degree and Interfering.

Grist Mill Road was closed from around 4 a.m. to 7 p.m. for the investigation.

Photo Credit: Norwalk Police

Man Crashes Car After Being Grazed by Bullet in Hartford: PD


A 19-year-old man suffered minor injuries when he was grazed by a bullet and crashed his car on Norfolk Street in Hartford Wednesday morning.

Hartford police said the victim reported he was driving west on Norfolk Street when a bullet grazed him on the head. He crashed his vehicle into a garage near the intersection of Norfolk Street and Baltimore Street then flagged down a police officer.

The victim suffered minor injuries, police said. He has not been identified, but police indicated that he had an existing warrant for his arrest.

Police are investigating the incident.

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

Man, Woman Charged in West Haven Kidnapping


Two people have been arrested and charged in connection with the kidnapping of a woman from a West Haven home Tuesday morning. 

Police said they responded to Yale-New Haven Hospital at 2:40 a.m. Tuesday to investigate a domestic violence case and the victim said a man and a woman assaulted her at a West Haven home, forced her into the trunk of a car and drove to Milford, where she escaped and alerted a resident who called Milford Police, police said. 

Police identified the suspects as 31-year-old Jason Kaufman, of West Haven, and 29-year-old Jenny Santamauro, also of West Haven. 

The victim was sent to Yale-New Haven Hospital to be treated for injuries and West Haven detectives found Kaufman, Santamauro and 42-year-old Christopher Nussas, of West Haven, in New Haven where they were taken into custody.

Kaufman and Santamauro were charged with kidnapping in the second degree, assault in the second degree, reckless endangerment in the first degree and unlawful restraint in the first degree. 

Both were held on a $100,000 bond and were arraigned in Milford Superior Court. 

Police said Nussas was arrested on an outstanding warrant.

Photo Credit: West Haven Police

Wilfork to Officially Announce Retirement


Vince Wilfork is set to announce his retirement from the league at Gillette Stadium, where he used to play for 11 seasons.

The defensive tackle, who has played a total of 13 seasons in the NFL, will make his announcement Wednesday afternoon.

Wilfork hinted to his retirement in a commercial that was released on Monday.

Check back later for an updated story.

Photo Credit: FILE - Getty Images

Jerry Remy to Undergo Chemotherapy


Red Sox broadcaster Jerry Remy will begin chemotherapy treatment for his lung cancer this month, he announced in a statement Wednesday.

"I'm still recovering from the lung cancer surgery I had back in June and will soon enter the next stage of my cancer treatment," Remy said. "I've met with my doctors and I'll start receiving chemotherapy treatments late this month."

Remy confirmed the return of his cancer in June — his fifth relapse.

"I have some difficult challenges in front of me, but I plan to keep fighting this thing," he said Wednesday. "I'd like to thank everybody for their many thoughts and prayers and continued support."

Photo Credit: NBC Boston

Fight to Save Southington Middle School Sports Continues


The fight to revive middle school sports in Southington after programming was cut over budget concerns continues.

Thursday, the Southington Middle School Athletics Association will ask the board of education to approve their new plan to accept funds they’ve collected, as well as implement a new method of paying to keep kids on the field.

For Erika Simons, mother of a middle school student at Depaolo Middle School, hearing that sports funding was cut this summer from the board’s budget was a disappointment. “Getting kids involved in extra-curricular activities is very important,” said Simons, “so I didn’t like that they were cutting the middle school sports.”

Simons’ son wanted to be on the cross-country team this spring. Now, she and her son are realizing that dream may not become a reality.

Once the board of education announced they’d be cutting sports funding, a parent group set to work and has collected $10,000 in pledges to fund fall sports – boys and girls soccer, and girls volleyball.

Thursday, the Southington Middle School Athletic Association will ask the board to approve the association’s partnership with the school, and to implement a $100 activity fee per sport to help cover the costs.

For Kristin Moran, the fee’s expensive for her family since her son plays three sports.

“(I’m) starting to think now about what other options are out there as far as additional leagues and other resources,” said the Southington mother.

Association Board President Mike DeFeo said pay-for-play fees should cover half of the total transportation and coach costs – a $90,000 price tag.

Moran’s son will attend Depaolo next fall, but she’s waiting to tell her year-round athlete what his athletic future looks like.

“I knew he would be heartbroken,” said Moran, “and I’m sort of hoping that maybe the pendulum swings the other way by the time he reaches middle school.”

The fundraising deadline is Sept. 8.

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

Plainfield Man Accused of Producing Child Porn Video


A 30-year-old Plainfield man is accused of producing child pornography videos and images, police said. 

A federal grand jury returned an indictment charging Ryan Stone with one count of production of child pornography on Wednesday. 

In April, Plainfield Police received a complaint that said Stone was in possession of multiple sexually explicit videos and images involving children.

Police obtained a search and seizure warrant to locate the child pornography. As the investigation continued, police discovered Stone had produced the videos himself.

The Department of Homeland Security was requested for assistance in the investigation.

Federal officials found that Stone allegedly used a minor to engage in sexually explicit conduct between March 30 and April 1 for the production of a video.

Stone has been in state custody since April 18 when he was arrested and charged with criminal trespass in the first degree and criminal violation of a restraining order.

Photo Credit: Plainfield Police

Meriden Man Taking Sanctuary from Deportation Order Speaks


A Meriden father who sought sanctuary in a New Haven church when he was supposed to be deported Tuesday to Ecuador said he does not want to be separated from his children and is prepared to stay as long as he has the support of his family in the decision.

Marco Reyes, a father of three and the family's sole provider, learned in July when he reported to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, as scheduled, that he would have to leave behind the life he built in Meriden and head back to Ecuador by Aug. 8.

Instead, Reyes took sanctuary at the First and Summerfield United Methodist Church in New Haven with his family members.

U.S. Customs and Immigration officials said that a federal immigration judge issued a final order of removal for Reyes in 2009 and Reyes was granted a stay of removal to allow him to pursue legal options in his immigration proceedings but has since exhausted his legal options.

Reyes explained that he came to the U.S. in 1997 because he wanted to build a better life for his family. He did that by working a construction job as he and his wife raised their three children. He said he has no criminal record.

Reyes has been living in Connecticut with his wife and children since 1997 and the problem came in 2007 when the family was vacationing and accidentally crossed into Canada.

Federal immigration authorities apprehended Reyes as they tried to return and supporters said he has been checking in with ICE since 2016.

“I am very honest in this country. Very, very honest. I pay my taxes, I pay everything. So I don’t understand. Why me?” Reyes said. 

Reyes said that it is frustrating to be stuck at the church because he cannot provide for his family, but that all the support he has received from the community has been a blessing. Senator Richard Blumenthal has called on ICE to reconsider the order, saying the move is a result of the Trump administration’s “cruel and inhumane immigration policies.”

His 12-year-old daughter Adriana, who is staying at the church with her father, said she hated the thought of being separated and wished that President Donald Trump would consider what deportation does to families.

“He should think about all those families that their families are getting destroyed, separated – maybe they won’t get to see them for – maybe forever,” she said.

She also asked that people who wanted her father to leave stop and think about that the situation really means, and how they would feel if it were them.

“You don’t like when you’re separated from your family. You never want to go through that,” she said.

Shawn Neudauer, ICE spokesman for the New England area said that Reyes is now considered an ICE fugitive for refusing to comply with the removal order and will be arrested when encountered. It is ICE's policy not to apprehend people in sensitive locations like churches unless there are pressing circumstances.

"A federal immigration judge’s orders cannot be ignored. ICE and the courts can delay acting on an order to ensure all applicable legal processes and possible benefits are followed and/or reviewed, which occurred in this case. However, after these legal options are exhausted, ICE must still carry out the judge’s order in the absence of any other mitigating factors," Neudauer said in a statement.

Reyes is not the first Connecticut resident to seek refuge in a church while fighting deportation.

Nury Chavarria, a mother of four, who left Guatemala in 1993, when she was 19, sought sanctuary at Iglesia De Dios Pentecostal Church in New Haven, and has since been granted a stay that will allow her to remain in the country.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

New Haven Gang Members Charged in Federal Racketeering Case


Alleged members of New Haven street gang the Goodrich Street Boys (GSB) face federal charges as a result of a long-term investigation into shootings in the city, according to the US Attorney’s office.

Authorities said they have identified six members of the gang as being involved in at least 18 shootings in New Haven in 2016. Investigators allege that Milton “Reese” Westley, 19, Clifford “Cliff G” Brodie, 20, Sedale “Scope” Pervis, 25, Dejuan “Hot Boi” Ward, 20, Michael “MB” Belle, 18, and Michael “Mike Live” Via, 20, are all accused of conspiring to engage in a pattern of racketeering activity.

According to the indictment, the six accused were members of GSB, which had teamed up with another gang called the Fruit Town Puri against rival crime organizations in the city. The gang is suspected of distributing heroin, crack cocaine and marijuana and engaging in acts of violence ranging from assault to attempted murder.

The named suspects are believed to be involved in at least six gang-related shootings between September 2015 and May 2016 that injured five people. Additionally, handguns possessed by these suspects have been linked to 18 recent shooting incidents.

Westley, Brodie, Belle and Via were arrested Wednesday. Pervis and Ward had been previously arrested and are in federal custody. They all face various racketeering, firearm, and drug charges.

The arrests are part of Project Longevity – an initiative to reduce gun violence in the state’s major cities.

“Project Longevity aims to deter violence and not simply react to it,” wrote U.S. Attorney Deirdre Daly in a release. “However, if a group or gang, such as GSB, engages in gun violence, they will become the focus of all the law enforcement partners who participate in the Project Longevity Intelligence meetings held at the NHPD four days a week, and appropriate federal and state criminal violations will be charged.”

The investigation into GSB and other gang activity is ongoing. Members of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), and the New Haven Police Department, the FBI, Hamden Police Department and New Haven State’s Attorney’s Office have all taken part in the investigation.

Trump's Childhood NYC Home Hits Airbnb for $725 a Night


President Donald Trump's childhood home in Queens is now available on Airbnb, and you can stay in the 1940 Tudor-style house for just $725 a night. 

The five-bedroom, 4 1/2-bathroom, brick-and-stucco home in Jamaica Estates sleeps 20 and has a full kitchen, internet and cable TV, according to the listing. There's also plenty of meeting space and a giant cutout of Trump in the living room to keep people company as they watch "Fox News late into the night." 

If you plan a longer stay, the owner is offering a 20 percent weekly discount and a 40 percent monthly discount. Airbnbers would have access to all of the rooms except for the bedroom where the owner lives, according to the listing. 

The president's father, developer Fred Trump, built the home in the upper-middle-class enclave about 10 miles east of midtown Manhattan. The house features arched doorways, a fireplace and a sun room and the F train is just a short walk away.

Trump lived there until he was about 4, when his family moved to another home his father had built nearby. The Airbnb listing says the home hasn't changed much since the Trumps lived there, and notes it has no affiliation whatsoever with the White House, the president, Trump or the Trump organization. 

"The kitchen is original and the opulent furnishings represent the style and affluence in which the Trumps would have lived," the listing says. "This is a unique and special opportunity to stay in the home of a sitting president."

The house was offered to bidders last fall, but that auction date was canceled after publicity sparked a burst of last-minute interest and requests for more time.

City records show an investor, Michael Davis, ultimately bought the home for nearly $1.4 million in December.

The house went to auction again in January, with bids closing mid-month.

Auction house Paramount Realty USA said in March the house had sold for $2.14 million. The sale price represented a more than 50 percent profit for the seller. 

Photo Credit: Paramount Realty USA

Pastor Says God Gives Trump 'Authority to Take Out Kim Jong Un'


Megachurch pastor Robert Jeffress, a prominent supporter of President Donald Trump, said in a statement that “God has given Trump the authority to take out Kim Jong-Un.”

The statement Tuesday night from the popular evangelical preacher who heads First Baptist Dallas comes on the heels of Trump’s comments about continued nuclear threats from North Korea.

“North Korea best not make any more threats to the United States,” the president said Tuesday. “They will be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen.”

Jeffress has long been a supporter of the president, and has been previously outspoken on political issues. 

Jeffress was one of a few religious leaders who gave sermons at an official service on the morning of Trump’s inauguration.

More recently, Jeffress was among a group of pastors who laid hands on the president in the Oval Office. He also supported Trump's tweets last month announcing plans to ban transgender people from serving in the military. 

Jeffress is also known for previously claiming former President Barack Obama had paved the way for the antichrist.

He also called Mormonism a cult while backing Rick Perry for president in the 2012 Republican primary, though he later endorsed Mitt Romney. 

Here is Jeffress’ full statement to The Brody Files of the Christian Broadcasting Network:

“When it comes to how we should deal with evil doers, the Bible, in the book of Romans, is very clear: God has endowed rulers full power to use whatever means necessary — including war — to stop evil. In the case of North Korea, God has given Trump authority to take out Kim Jong-Un. I’m heartened to see that our president — contrary to what we’ve seen with past administrations who have taken, at best, a sheepish stance toward dictators and oppressors — will not tolerate any threat against the American people. When President Trump draws a red line, he will not erase it, move it, or back away from it. Thank God for a President who is serious about protecting our country.”

Teens With Brass Knuckles, Pepper Spray Attempt to Rob Home


Two teens carrying brass knuckles and pepper spray attempted to rob a home in Hartford on Wednesday. 

Hartford police responded to Beacon Street at 12:45 a.m. for a reported burglary.

The resident told police they heard male voices and immediately called 911. 

Responder officers were able to detain the two boys who had gained access to the home through the first-floor window, Hartford police said. 

The suspects, a 16-year-old and an 18-year-old, had had several items they took from the home, including the resident's car keys, according to police. 

Police also found the teens were carrying brass knuckles and pepper spray.

Leonardo Ramirez, 18, of Hartford, was charged with home invasion, possession of a dangerous weapon, larceny and criminal attempt of larceny. 

Industrial Accident in Southington Leaves Man Seriously Injured: FD


An industrial accident in Southington left one person seriously injured on Wednesday, fire officials said. 

Southington firefighters were dispatched to a forged steel production facility at 345 Atwater Street at 4:23 p.m. for a man with a laceration to his head. 

The man was transported to St. Mary's Hospital with serious head injuries, firefighters said. 

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has been notified and will be investigating, the fire department said. 

No other information was immediately available. 

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

CT Tax-Free Holiday Runs from Aug. 20 to Aug. 26


Whether you need to do back-to-school shopping or you’re looking to update your wardrobe, the week of Aug. 20 is the best time to do it.

The annual Connecticut tax holiday runs from Sunday, Aug. 20 through Saturday, Aug. 26.

This means there is a one-week sales and use tax exclusion for clothing and footwear costing less than $100. Learn more about what is exempt and what’s not here: 

Here are some examples of clothing and shoes that are exempt during the tax-free week when they are sold for less than $100

Examples of Clothing or Footwear That Are Exempt When Sold for Less Than $100:

  • Antique clothing
  • Aprons (kitchen)
  • Arm warmers
  • Athletic socks
  • Bandannas
  • Baseball hats
  • Bathing caps
  • Belts, suspenders, belt buckles
  • Bicycle sneakers (without cleats)
  • Blouses
  • Chef uniforms
  • Children’s bibs
  • Clerical vestments and religious clothing
  • Diapers (cloth or disposable, adult or child)
  • Dresses
  • Ear muffs
  • Employee uniforms (such as police, fire, mechanics, nurses, postal)
  • Formal wear gowns
  • Formal wear rentals
  • Foul weather gear
  • Garters
  • Gloves
  • Golf dresses and skirts
  • Golf jackets
  • Golf shirts
  • Graduation caps and gowns
  • Gym suits
  • Handkerchiefs
  • Hats, caps
  • Fashion boots
  • Jeans
  • Jogging suits, sweat suits
  • Leg warmers
  • Leotards, tights;
  • Lingerie
  • Nylons, hosiery -- Support hose specially designed to aid in the circulation of blood purchased by persons with medical need for the hose are exempt under Conn. Gen. Stat. §12-412(19) regardless of their cost.
  • Overclothes
  • Overshoes, rubbers, boots
  • Painter pants
  • Ponchos
  • Rain jackets, rain suits, rain wear
  • Rented uniforms
  • Robes
  • Sashes
  • Scarves
  • Scout uniforms
  • Shirts
  • Shoelaces
  • Shoes: aerobic, basketball, boat, running (without cleats), safety (suitable for everyday wear)
  • Ski sweaters, ski jackets
  • Sleepwear (nightgowns, pajamas)
  • Slippers
  • Sneakers
  • Socks
  • Square dancing clothes
  • Swim suits
  • Tennis clothing (dresses, hats, shorts, and skirts)
  • Ties (men’s and women’s)
  • Undergarments
  • Wedding gowns, headpieces, and veils
  • Work clothes

Photo Credit: Connecticut Department of Revenue Services

Sex Assault Reported at Jennings Beach Didn't Happen: Police


The sexual assault reported at Jennings Beach in Fairfield on Aug. 1 did not happen, according to police. They said the woman retracted her story.

They said the victim, an 18-year-old Bridgeport woman, told authorities that a man who was hiding in the greenery sexually assaulted her on a path from the beach to the east side of the parking lot around in broad daylight.

Police said they found no evidence to corroborate the victim’s report and she retracted the statement, saying she was not sexually assaulted and was not the victim of a crime.

It’s not clear if charges will be filed against the woman.

“Despite the outcome of this incident the Fairfield Police Department takes every report of sexual assault seriously and conducts a full and thorough investigation into all complaints. It is our hope that this discovery does not discourage future crime victims from coming forward and restores public confidence that our community is safe,” Fairfield police said in a statement.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Former U.S. Diplomat Criticizes Trump's Handling of North Korea


Yale Law School’s former dean has a unique take on the current conflict of rhetoric between North Korea and the United States. He spent four days in talks with North Korea’s former President Kim Jong Il.

"I went with Madeleine Albright and we spent four days there and met Kim Jon Il, the current president's father and we lived in Pyeongyang and had some extensive discussions," Harold Kho, who is now the Sterling Professor of International Law at Yale Law School, said. 

Koh said the president of the United States has an obligation to tone down conversations that reach near-hostile levels.

President Donald Trump recently told reporters in response to threats from North Korea’s current President Kim Jong Un, "They will be met with fire fury and frankly power the likes of which this world has never seen before."

Kho, who made two separate trips for diplomatic discussions with the previous North Korean leader, said those kinds of statements are unbecoming of the Commander-in-Chief.

"We are the adults here so we should be acting like the adults and it's a little bit worrying when you can't tell the difference between the rhetoric of the president of North Korea and the President of the United States," Kho said. 

From Kho’s perspective, the most significant development over the past week has been the unanimous United Nations Security Council resolution placing crippling economic sanctions on North Korea. He said if the conversations don’t improve, and the sanctions remain in place, then North Korea will remain in the conditions of a “fourth world country.”

"When you fly from Seoul which is the city of lights to Pyeongyang, there are no lights on the runway. It's totally dark and the people are completely dispirited,” Kho said.

Kho thinks the recent calming comments from Secretary of State Rex Tillerson were a result of the influence of Sung Kim, a veteran of diplomacy in the region. Kho said he hopes that kind of calming tone somehow makes its way to President Trump so he can start work toward using the power of the alliance with Russia and China to help steer relations with North Korea in the right direction.

Kho said, "This is not helpful, this is not Game of Thrones. We're not talking about fire and fury. It is the job of the American president to bring down the rhetoric and de-escalate and then to try to find common ground."

Photo Credit: AP

Key Republican Won't Run for Governor as an Upstart Surges


Republican State Senate Leader Len Fasano announced Wednesday morning that he will not run for the state’s highest office.

Fasano said the decision not to run came after discussions with his family.

"When you talk about family, no one is a solo actor," Fasano, the top Republican in the evenly divided state senate, said. "They've got other people that depend upon you and you've got to make a family decision and it wasn't in the best interests of my family that I pursue the next step up, running for governor."

Fasano said he received encouragement from other Senate Republicans and influential members of the GOP around the state but eventually decided against a campaign for governor.

"I think I've worked hard and I don't want to disappoint but like I said, family comes first and that's what I'm going to put first," he said.

One candidate that has surged from unknown status to a possible fundraising juggernaut is Prasad Srinivasan, a Republican state representative from Glastonbury.

When he announced his candidacy last year, many in political circles either rolled their eyes or were asking who Srinivasan was.

Srinivasan, an allergist of Indian descent, announced late Tuesday that his campaign has raised $250,000 in donations of less than $100, meaning he would be the first candidate from either party to qualify for a $1.4 million grant from the Citizens Election Program (CEP).

The CEP is a state taxpayer funded campaign funding mechanism designed to force candidates to solicit small amounts of money, with the intention of blocking state contractor, lobbyist, and other outside funds from influencing both statewide and General Assembly elections.

"The money that goes into it will be for the campaign that takes us to the convention, that takes us to the primary and we're going to use it as we need to do it to use it efficiently to make it work for the campaign," Srinivasan said during an interview Wednesday.

The CEP issued grant isn’t guaranteed. All applications are reviewed by the State Elections Enforcement Commission, and there is doubt over whether the money will even be available given the state’s budget crisis. Without a budget, and with sagging state revenues, it is not yet clear whether there will be the tens of millions needed to satisfy candidates that qualify for grants.

Srinivasan said he will keep campaigning and raising money even with that certainty.

He also said such a milestone at such an early stage, 15 months before any votes are cast and nearly a year before candidates are selected, could give him a boost heading into the Fall.

 "Am I getting name recognition? Yes. Am I the frontrunner? I don't know and then you guys are going to decide who the front runner is going to be and I hope I am. I feel I am the frontrunner," Srinivasan said.

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