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No BART Strike Monday, Gov. Steps In


WIth less than two hours to spare, Gov. Jerry Brown stepped in and averted a potentially crippling BART strike.

Gov. Brown called for a seven day board of inquiry investigation late Sunday, according to the union. 

The announcement came after 10 p.m. Sunday night, less than two hours before the strike was scheduled to begin.

The governor's announcement read: "Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. tonight appointed a board to investigate the contract dispute between Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) and its unions – effectively ending the immediate threat of service disruption."

BART issued a release that said it had asked the Governor to issue a cooling off period.

"On Sunday BART Board President Tom Radulovich sent a letter to the Governor laying out BART’s plan to focus all of its efforts on reaching an agreement. A cooling off period would, “allow us to continue negotiating while assuring the public that it will have transit service tomorrow and for another 60 days as we continue to bargain,” the letter to the governor stated.  "The formal impartial fact-finding that accompanies the cooling-off period will help clarify the points of difference between the proposals."

Union officials said they were disappointed that they were unable to get a contract, but acknowledged that there was good news in the announcement because it meant that service would not be disrupted for the 400,000 commuters who use BART every day for at least the next week,

Contract negotiations  were held all weekend with both sides at the bargaining table  both Saturday and Sunday for marathons sessions.

They met for nearly 13 hours Saturday and nearly 12 hours Sunday before the governor stepped in.

Going into the weekend it appeared the unions and BART management were far apart on the main sticking issues of pension, health care and wages. A 72 hour notice had been called for a possible strike that would begin at midnight Sunday night

Here is Gov. Brown's full response:

Dear Ms. Crunican, Ms. Bryant, Ms. Sanchez, and Ms. Hamilton:

At the request of the Bay Area Rapid Transit District, I am appointing a board to investigate the threatened strike that would disrupt public transportation services in the Bay Area.

This board is appointed under the authority of Government Code, § 3612, subdivision (a), because the strike will significantly disrupt public transportation services and will endanger the public’s health, safety, and welfare.

The three individuals appointed to the board of investigation are: Jacob Appelsmith, Chairman Robert Balgenorth Micki Callahan The Government Code prohibits any strike or lockout while the board completes its investigation. (Gov. Code, § 3612, subd. (b).) The board is directed to provide me with a written report within the next seven days.

For the sake of the people of the Bay Area, I urge - in the strongest terms possible - the parties to meet quickly and as long as necessary to get this dispute resolved.

Sincerely, Edmund G. Brown Jr.


Photo Credit: Getty Images

Man's Body Found Near Wadsworth Falls State Park


EnCon Police, from the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, are investigating after a body was found near Wadsworth Falls State Park in Middlefield Sunday afternoon.

According to officials, a person walking across the Cherry Hill Road Bridge noticed the body of a man lying face down on the rocks in the Coginchaug River at around 3:00 p.m.

The individual notified EnCon police of the discovery. The man was pronounced dead at the scene.

DEEP officials say there is no evidence of foul play and the incident appears to be an accident. They also say the area off Cherry Hill Road is well traveled.

"People walk frequently from the parking lot on Cherry Hill over the river to access the hiking trials and it was one of the park patrons walking across the bridge that saw the victim, " said Colonel Kyle Overturf from EnCon Police.

The exact circumstances behind the incident are not clear at this time.

The body will be taken to the Medical Examiner's office for identification and cause of death.




Exit of Route 9 South in New Britain Closed


Exit 25 of Route 9 South is closed in New Britain this morning because of a two-car crash.

Whether there are injuries is not known.

No other information was immediately available.

Burglars Targeting Houses, Cars in Stratford


There have been several recent residential burglaries in Stratford and police are urging residents to keep doors and windows locked when they are away from home.

Police said the burglaries are predominantly in the Lordship neighborhood and in areas west of Broadbridge Avenue, near the Bridgeport town line.

Stratford police advise residents to keep all doors and windows locked when you are not at home and lock your vehicle when it is unattended. 

If you have a home or car alarm, ensure that it is working properly and don’t forget to turn it on, police advise.

If you are a victim of a burglary, call the Stratford Police Department immediately at 203-385-4100.

If you see any suspicious activity, or if you have any information about the burglaries or any crimes, call police.

You can also call the anonymous tips line at 203-375-8477.

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Photo Credit: Google Maps

Man Accused of Waving Pellet Gun at West Haven Park


West Haven police have arrested a 43-year-old local man accused of waving a pellet gun in a West Haven park on Sunday.

Police responded to Glade Street Park on Sunday after receiving reports of a man waving a handgun and found Christopher Peckham, who had a pellet gun with some type of silencing device attached, police said.

Peckham, who lives on Glade Street, was arrested and charged with risk of injury to minors, second-degree threatening, breach of peace and weapons charges. 

He was held on $5,000 bond and is due in court in Milford today.

Photo Credit: West Haven Police

Newlywed Dies in Beach Boardwalk Crash


The woman killed in Saturday's crash on the Venice boardwalk was on a honeymoon with her husband after getting married two weeks ago in Italy, Italian newspapers reported on Sunday.

Alice Gruppioni, 32, was the newlywed daughter of an Italian businessman from Bologna, Italy. She died with her injured husband at her side at a Los Angeles hospital, the newspaper La Republicca reported.

The groom, Christian Casadei, suffered minor injuries in the 6 p.m. Saturday crash. Relatives from Italy arrived in Los Angeles late Sunday to join him.

Gruppioni reportedly ran a family business in her hometown, Rastignano, a village just south of Bologna. La Republicca reported that she and her husband were building a house there.

An aunt told NBC4 that Gruppioni was a businesswoman and a romantic who had dreamed of visiting California with her husband. She said Gruppioni's death was "a tremendous injustice."

Gruppioni was the daughter of Valerio Gruppioni, a businessman and former president of the Bologna soccer team.

Family members were rushing from Italy to Los Angeles, the newspaper reported, and an official from the Italian consulate office in L.A. was at the hospital as well.

City News Service contributed to this report.

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Suspected Drunken Driver Hits Police Officer


A Granby police officer was struck by a vehicle on Sunday evening and police have charged a Massachusetts man with operating under the influence.

Officer Mark Garofalo was out of his marked cruiser on Salmon Brook Street, Route 10, just north of Route 20 at 6:06 p.m. on Aug. 4, helping a disabled tractor-trailer when he was struck by a vehicle driven by Daniel Kupruck,  31, of Southwick, Massachusetts, police said.

An ambulance transported Officer Garofalo to Hartford Hospital and he was released late Sunday night.

Kupruck was not hurt. He was charged with operating under the influence, operating without insurance, operating under suspension, possession of drug paraphernalia and striking a police officer with a vehicle. 

He was released on $5,000 bond and is scheduled to appear in Enfield Superior Court on Aug. 12. S

Witnesses are asked to call Sgt. Mikan of the Granby Police at (860)844-5335.

Photo Credit: Granby Police

Taco Bell Teases New Doritos Locos Flavor


Taco Bell released a Vine video to tease yet another Doritos Locos Tacos flavor that will hit restaurants later this month.

The new, mystery flavor will join the popular Nacho Cheese Doritos Locos Tacos, which has become Taco Bell's most successful product launch in its 50-year history. The Cool Ranch flavor was introduced in March.

Rumor has it that the new flavor will be inspired by Dorito's chili-lime flavored Flamas chips. Nation's Restaurant News reported about a year ago that Flamas Doritos Locos Tacos were being tested at stores in Toledo, Ohio.


Photo Credit: Consumer Bob

4-Year-Old Mayor of Minn. Town Wins Second Term


The 4-year-old mayor of a small town in Minnesota was re-elected Sunday on a platform that embraced fundraising for charities and regular playtime.

Robert "Bobby" Tufts' name was drawn from a "ballot box" (a clear tub) at a festival in Dorset, a town of 22 people with no formal city government.

Anyone can vote and as many times as they like for $1 a vote. The proceeds goes toward organizing the Taste of Dorset festival.

Bobby was 3 years old when he won his first election. His mother Emma Tufts said the mayor's second term agenda includes fund raising for the Ronald McDonald's House Charities and new welcome sign for Dorset.

They have already raised $750 from a walk this summer and planned to donate half the money from Sunday's T-shirt sales to charity, according to The Associated Press.

When the incumbent mayor was asked how he felt about his victory, he made it clear that he was done answering questions.

"I want to be with the boys," he told his mother.

Photo Credit: AP

Women to Be Sentenced in "Gifting Table" Ponzi Scheme


Two shoreline women who led an illegal gifting club that defrauded participants out of more than $1 million in a three-year pyramid scheme will soon be sentenced.

An 18-count federal indictment charged Donna Bello, 55, of Guilford and Jill Platt of Guilford with defrauding the IRS, filing false tax returns and committing wire fraud.

The women pleaded not guilty to the charges during their arraignments in U.S. District Court in Hartford and Platt will the sentencing phase of the hearing is underway today. Exactly when they will be sentenced is not known.

Bello was the "ringleader and principal promoter" of the alleged pyramid scheme, according to prosecutors, and made at least $400,000 from the arrangement.

"She didn't profit whatsoever. She did it for philanthropic purposes, giving money back to people," Bello's attorney, Richard Marquette, said during one of the hearings.

When asked if she had anything to say about the charges as she left the courthouse, Bello said, "No, I don't. I'm sorry."

The indictment outlines exactly how the alleged scheme worked.

The pyramid had four levels: "Appetizers," "Soup and Salads," "Entrees" and "Dessert."

New members contributed a $5,000 "gift" to join at the "appetizer" level, older members moved up the pyramid, and the person at the top "dessert" level cashed in on the new member "gifts," according to court documents.  

From there, the pyramid split with lower level members moving up and recruitment starting again for eight new "appetizer" level members.

The women referred to their proceeds as "Green Beans" and sent emails to potential club members promising large tax-free financial gains, according to the indictment.

"They went to counsel to review the matter, to review the essence of what the government calls a Ponzi scheme, and legal counsel that they had told them it was legal," said Jonathan Einhorn, who is Platt's attorney.

Attorneys even participated in the club, according to Einhorn.

The indictment includes portions of numerous emails sent from the women to participants in the club.

In one email, Bello told a participant, "I believe within a year of your starting ... you will make $80,000 on your small investment."

Bello emailed another participant saying, "Keep it quiet because rather not have red flags raised."

When a participant complained to her, Bello replied in an email, "You chose to gift, your family chose to gift. You and your family r not victims. There were no promises made by me."

Bello explained to another participant in an email, "The tables are not illegal. All but a few gifts received have gone to charity. I do not have money to give to you. I'm sorry."

The women claim more than 70 people made it to the "dessert" level and that more than 20 of those women made it to the top more than six times, according to emails outlined in the indictment.

They also claimed in emails that more than $5 million has exchanged hands.

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut

Man Subdued After Leading Police on Chase


A West Haven man led police on a chase into a swamp while officers were executing felony search warrants on Sunday, according to police. 

As police confronted Justin Dauphinais, 30, at his 580 Main Street residence, he ran away and into a wooded swamp area, police said.

Police continued to chase Dauphinais, who was combative, police said.

Officers eventually subdued him and charged him with sixth-degree larceny, two counts of third-degree assault, risk of injury to a child and additional charges.

He was held on $80,000 bond and is due in court in Milford today.

Photo Credit: West Haven Police

Newtown Police Search for Missing Man


Newtown Police are trying to find a 50-year-old man who has been missing for almost a week.

Robert Hoagland was last seen at the Mobil Gas Station on Church Hill Road around 5:30 a.m. on July 30.

He is around 6-feet tall and weighs approximately 175 pounds.

He is bald and has blue eyes and was last seen wearing a white T-Shirt and khaki shorts. 

Anyone with any information should call Detective McAnaspie or Detective Frank at the Newtown Police Department at 303-426-5841.

Photo Credit: Newtown Police

Vernon Police Make 6 Arrests at Disturbance in Rockville


Vernon police have arrested six people after responding to several 911 calls reporting a disturbance in front of 90 Prospect Street around 10:45 p.m., on Sunday.

When police responded to the multi-family home, they found disorderly group gathered and tried to calm the situation, police said. 

Joshua Sanchez, a 24-year-old neighbor was agitated and a female was holding him back police said.

As officers tried to take him into custody, he tried to pull away from the officers, police said.

As officers were placing Sanchez in handcuffs, John Ortiz, 31, started to approach the officers and attempted to interfere with the arrest, police said.

Police then tried to take Ortiz into custody. As he was being handcuffed, he pulled his arms away and tried to run toward a nearby house and continued to resist until he was taken into custody, police said. 

Officers called for back-up. The crowd grew to around 20 people and 12 Vernon officers responded.

As more police arrived, officers heard a disturbance inside 90 Prospect Street, went inside and found a verbal dispute between two parties, police said.

As this was going on, Peter Frazier, 56, of 90 Prospect Street, began to cause a disturbance outside the residence, police said. 

Police said Frazier was intoxicated and began to threaten the officers and others people who were present, so they placed him under arrest.

As police were escorting him to a cruiser, Frazier began to struggle with the officers.

As officers were taking Frazier into custody, two other females began to fight on the sidewalk in front of 90 Prospect Street, so police separated them and arrested the women, who have been identified as Anne Armstrong, 26, of East Hartford, and Shelly Doucette, 50, of Vernon.

A 17-year-old girl was also arrested and released to her parent on a juvenile summons after she refused to leave the area of the disturbance, police said.

Frazier was charged with interfering with police and second-degree breach of peace. Bond was set at $1,500 bond.
Ortiz was interfering with police and second-degree breach of peace. Bond was set at $1,000 bond. Sanchez was charged with interfering with police and second-degree breach of peace. Bond was set at $1,500.

Doucette was charged with interfering with police and second-degree breach of peace and bond was set at $500, Armstrong was charged with interfering with police and bond was set at $500. The 17-year-old girl was charged with interfering with police.

Media Reactions to A-Rod's Big Day

Mom Drove Recklessly With Child in Car: Police


A Southington mother was arrested in West Hartford last week, accused of driving recklessly on the highway with a young child in the car.

Police stopped Gabrielle Turgeon, 23, of Southington, on Interstate 84 West around 1 p.m. on July 30 after she was seen speeding and weaving in and out of traffic, police said.

Turgeon’s 18-month-old son was in the car at the time, police said, and Turgeon also had drug paraphernalia.

She was charged with reckless driving, risk of injury to a child, speeding, drug paraphernalia possession and other charges.

Bond was set at $10,000. She is due in court on Aug. 8.

Photo Credit: West Hartford Police

Obama to Take Housing Questions in Zillow Online Roundtable


President Barack Obama will field online questions on Wednesday as part of his California tour to address homeownership.

On Aug. 7 at 1 p.m. ET, Obama will take questions about housing from homeowners, renters and potential homebuyers in an event that will be hosted by the CEO of Zillow, an online real estate database. The White House is encouraging Americans to submit questions via YouTube, Vine or Instagram using the hashtag #AskObamaHousing.

Here are three ways to submit questions:

  • Create a short video submission of your question on YouTube, Instagram or Vine. Share the video using #AskObamaHousing
  • Tweet your question using #AskObamaHousing
  • On Facebook, visit Zillow’s Facebook page to submit a question.

Photo Credit: Getty Images

Police Make 3 Arrests in March Attack


Watertown police have arrested three suspects in an unprovoked attack in a 7-Eleven parking lot in Oakville in March.

Three males sustained injuries during the attack in the 7-Eleven parking lot at 118 Davis Street on March 30, police said. Two of the three victims sustained broken jaws and one of them was transferred to Hartford Hospital so his fractured jaw could be repaired.

Police investigated, determined that four people were involved and have arrested two men and a juvenile. Police said more arrests are expected and police are seeking another suspect.

Police arrested Thomas VanDresar, of Oakville, on July 31. He was charged with second-degree assault and second-degree breach of peace, police said. Bond was set at $50,000 and VanDresar was arraigned in court in Waterbury on Aug. 1.

Francis DiMaria, also of Oakville, was arrested today. He was also charged with second-degree assault and second-degree breach of peace. Bond for DiMaria was also set at $50,000 and he posted it, police said.

Police have not released the juvenile’s name because of his age.

Newlywed "Robbed of Her Life" in Venice Crash


The family of a newlywed killed when a driver crashed through a crowd on the Venice Beach Boardwalk arrived in Southern California Sunday night as mourners continued to leave items at the site of Saturday's crash that injured 16 others.

An autopsy conducted Monday on the body of Alice Gruppioni, indicates that the 32-year-old died from blunt force trauma to the head and neck, according to the Los Angeles County coroner's office. The case was ruled a homicide.

Meanwhile, a fundraiser was planned in honor of Gruppioni and other victims.

"There's no words to describe our situation, our love," her husband, Christian Casadei, told NBC reporters in a tearful interview at the funeral home.

"I'm very sad because now Alice is not here with us," said her sister, Nike Gruppioni, as she broke down. "She's not here."

On Saturday, Alice Gruppioni was visiting the boardwalk -- a beachside destination that her aunt described as a dream destination -- on a honeymoon with Casadei two weeks after their wedding. They both were struck by a man driving a Dodge Avenger that police said was intentionally driven into the crowd.

"She was robbed of her life while living her dream visit to California with her husband," Katia Gruppioni, her aunt, told NBC4 in a text message. "This was a tremendous injustice. Alice was a remarkable young lady making her personal dreams come true."

Gruppioni is the daughter of Valerio Gruppioni, a businessman and former president of the Bologna soccer team. He is the president of Sira Group, a producer of heating radiators.

"Born in a very traditional Italian family, she became part of the family's business when she was only 19," Katia Gruppioni told NBC4.

Flowers, candles, a picture of Gruppioni and her husband were among the items left at a boardwalk memorial.The Candle Cafe and Grill is conducting a fundraiser Monday for the victims. The restaurant, one of several cafes lining the boardwalk, scheduled a vigil Monday evening for the victims.

Gruppioni's groom, Christian Casadei, suffered minor injuries in the 6 p.m. Saturday crash.

All 16 crash victims have been released from the hospital Monday afternoon.

Linda Alvarez, 75, a longtime tarot card and palm reader in Venice, was among those injured and released Sunday.

"She has bad bruises all over her head, her side, she has broken ribs," said Chelsea Alvarez, the victim's granddaughter. "She's pretty banged up. She had a concussion."

Despite that, Alvarez returned to work Monday. She had this to say about the man allegedly responsible for killing one and injuring 16 others:

"She wants to see him live life in prison," Chelsea Alvarez said of her grandmother.

Police arrested Nathan Campbell, 38, in connection with the hit-and-run crash on one of Southern California's most famous tourist locations -- home to galleries, restaurants, tattoo shops, skateboard parks and the famous outdoor weight room known as Muscle Beach. Surveillance video from nearby businesses captured the Avenger striking pedestrians as others ran for cover.

The driver left the scene and about an hour later, as police announced they were seeking the vehicle, a man walked into a police station in neighboring Santa Monica and told officers he was involved in the boardwalk incident, according to Los Angeles police. 

CLARIFICATION: A Los Angeles Police Department official on Monday told NBC4 that 16 people were hurt and one person was killed -- making 17 total victims, two of which refused treatment -- in the Venice boardwalk crash. Los Angeles police updated the department's earlier report that there were 12 victims total.

More Southern California Stories:

8-Year-Old Dies After Falling Into Washer


An 8-year-old Southern California boy died after drowning inside a washing machine, authorities said.

The boy, who was not identified, was hospitalized after falling into a washer on Wednesday at his home in Castaic.

Paramedics found him on the ground, next to a washing machine with his father at his side, Los Angeles County Sheriff's officials said.

The boy’s father told investigators he was outside working in the yard and went inside to check on his son.

When the father entered the laundry room, he saw the boy’s feet and legs sticking out of the washing machine, his face submerged in water, deputies said.

Detectives launched an investigation into the death, but said it appeared to be a tragic accident.

Authorities used the case as a warning to parents to always watch their children.

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2 Children Strangled by Escaped Python


Two children were killed Monday morning by a python that got loose from an urban zoo in Canada and slithered into an upstairs apartment.

Two boys, ages five and seven, were staying at their friend's home just above Reptile Ocean in Campbellton, N.B., when the snake strangled them, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police told NBC News.

The snake apparently escaped through Reptile Ocean overnight and managed to escape into the upstairs apartment through the building's ventilation system, according to police. It is not yet clear how the snake escaped, CBC News reported.

"The city is in shock," Deputy Mayor Ian Comeau said, according to CBC News.

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