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1,000 Watches Stolen from Clinton Crossing


Thieves smashed their way into the Fossil store at Clinton Crossings over the weekend and stolen 1,000 watches valued at a combined $175,000, according to police.

When the employee opened the store around 9 a.m. on Saturday, he or she discovered smashed display cases, according to police.  

Police said the thieves smashed the lock to the store, smashed display cases and stole around 1,000 Fossil, Michael Kors and Emporio Armani watches, police said.

The burglars were wearing masks and gloves. Police believe the burglary happened between 4 a.m. and 5:30 a.m.

Anyone with information is asked to call Clinton Police at 860-669-0451.

Photo Credit: Clinton police

New London City Council Votes to Keep K-9 Units


The dog fight in New London is apparently over. At least for now.

Even though the city is facing big money problems, council members voted unanimously Monday night to keep the police department's K-9 units.

Now it goes to Mayor Justin Daryl Finizio's desk where he has 10 days to sign or veto it.

"We lost it once, please don't let this happen again," said Carl Lee of New London, who along with other residents, feels the K-9 unit has become a tool of the trade. "Don't deprive our city residents of the importance of the work they do for us."

"The benefit of a strong canine unit to our public safety structure can't be overstated. If we get rid of the program, we eliminate it," said Dan McSparran of New London.

The unanimous city council vote for the ordinance mandates there be four dogs in the unit, provided Mayor Finizio signs off on it.

"We do have a demonstrated need for it," said City Councilman Adam Sprecace. "We've had the K-9 division in the city for a great number of years and when it is operating properly, I think it does everyone in this city a service."

"I think it's an asset to the city. I think it's an asset to officers," said councilman Anthony Nolan.

But not everyone believed the K-9 division to be an asset.

"And I feel the k-9 unit will be more of a liability to the city of New London than to provide public safety," said resident Debbie Phillips.

Some council members initially expressed reservations about the wording of the ordinance, but ultimately voted to approve it.

Mayor Finizio, on the other hand, made clear that he doesn't think a K-9 unit is necessary.

"Four dogs in 6.46 square mile city. A four-dog K-9 unit. Why four? Why not two? Why not three?" Finizio said, adding that the city has already lost more than $2 million in its public safety budget.

His concern is patrol strength and new technology for law enforcement.

"Do we want to put our limited resources toward more dogs instead of starting the hiring process?" Finizio asked.

The ordinance again now goes to the mayor's office. If he vetoes it, the ordinance will go back to the council, which can override the veto.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Mom Accused of Letting 10-Year-Old Daughter Shoplift


A West Hartford mother was arrested on Saturday, accused of allowing her 10-year-old daughter to shoplift.

Police arrested Sereisopheak Preap, 30, of West Hartford, at Lord & Taylor at Westfarms mall around 5:50 p.m. on Saturday, according to the arrest log.

Preap was charged with fifth-degree conspiracy to commit larceny, fifth-degree larceny and risk of injury to a minor.

Bond was set at $5,000. Preap was released and is due in court on Aug. 13. 

Couple Accused of Leaving Children Unattended to Shoplift


Farmington police arrested a couple accused of shoplifting and leaving their two young children unattended as they did it.

Police arrested Kimberly Ann Lopez, 43, and Carlos Luis Lopez, 57, both of New Britain, on Saturday night after bystanders called police to report that two young children had wandered into traffic.

The couple was arrested at Sports Authority at 7:09 p.m. Police said they were shoplifting and left their 3-and-5-year-old children unattended.

Both were charged with sixth-degree conspiracy to commit larceny, sixth-degree larceny and two counts of risk of injury to a minor.

Bond for Carlos Luis Lopez was set at $15,000 and bond for Kimberly Ann Lopez was set at $2,000.
Both are due in court on Aug. 13.

Photo Credit: Getty Images

4 Friends Shot as Masked Gunman Opens Fire on NJ Street


Police are looking for a masked gunman who approached four friends walking down a street in a northern New Jersey town early Tuesday and opened fire, wounding all of them in what authorities believed to be a targeted attack on a young woman in the group, authorities say.

Officials say no words were exchanged when the gunman fired up to nine shots at the 18-year-old woman, 20-year-old man, 18-year-old man and 17-year-old boy as they walked on Mission Street in Montclair around 1 a.m.

Police say a preliminary investigation suggests the shooting was targeted, and that the female victim was likely the intended target. She was shot in the chest and was the most severely injured of the four. Police say she had been targeted in a shooting last week, but was not hurt in that case.

Authorities said it wasn't clear why she was targeted.

Authorities said the 20-year-old man who was with her Tuesday morning was shot in the arm; the 18-year-old man was wounded in the buttocks and the 17-year-old victim was shot in the leg. All three were taken to the hospital in stable condition and are expected to be OK. 

Police said the suspect fled down Elmwood Avenue after firing the shots and hopped into a getaway car that was last seen heading east on Elmwood. 

Photo Credit: NBC 4 New York

Man Accused of Posting "Baby for Sale" Ad on Craigslist


A 23-year-old New York City man is accused of posting an ad on Craigslist offering to sell a 2-month-old baby for $100. 

The Staten Island district attorney's office said Paul Marquez, of Staten Island, admitted posting the ad twice last week, using photos of the baby and the phone number for the child's mother.

Marquez is charged with harassment and endangering the welfare of a child, both misdemeanor charges.

Prosecutors say he told them that he posted the ad to get back at the baby's mother, a 19-year-old woman he had been dating.

He is being held on $1,000 bail. He was listed as having a lawyer with Legal Aid, which does not comment.

Photo Credit: Getty Images

Nationwide Search Launched for Murder, Kidnapping Suspect


A San Diego man is the subject of a nationwide manhunt, the suspect in a double murder and possible double kidnapping.

Deputies were called to 2071 Ross Ave. in the unincorporated community of Boulevard around 8 p.m. Sunday to find the home and detached 3-car garage engulfed in flames.

Two people and a dog were found dead inside James Lee DiMaggio’s log-cabin style home Monday night. Officials said 41-year-old Christina Anderson was found, in addition to another body.

San Diego County homicide Lt. Glenn Giannantonio originally said the body was that of a child's, but has since said the body is badly burned and DNA testing will reveal who it is.

Deputies believe DiMaggio murdered Anderson and then set the structures on fire. Officials have put out a nationwide Amber Alert for DiMaggio and Anderson’s 8-year-old son Ethan and 16-year-old daughter Hannah.

The father of both children, Brett Anderson, spoke to the media on Tuesday, and said DiMaggio has "taken everything" from him.

Brett then had a message to his daughter: "Hannah, we all love you very much. If you have a chance take it, run, you will be found."

Ethan is 4-feet, 11-inches tall, weighing 65 pounds with sandy blonde hair. Hannah is 5-feet, 7-inches tall, 115 pounds with blue eyes, a nose stud, pierced ears and a belly button ring. She attends El Capitan High School.

DiMaggio is 40 years old, 5-foot 9- inches tall, 150 pounds, with brown hair and brown eyes. His beard and mustache have recently been shaved off officials said.

They are believed to be traveling in a 4-door, blue Nissan Versa with license plate 6WCU986.

“It’s believed that one or both of the children have been abducted by DiMaggio whose whereabouts are also unknown,” said Giannantonio.

Neighbors were in disbelief Monday. They say DiMaggio is a kind, giving and laid back person who the Anderson children considered an uncle.

They believe DiMaggio had planned to take Ethan camping or hunting and authorities may not be able to reach him because he's out of cell phone range.

Anderson was an old friend of DiMaggio who would come to visit him once or twice a month, according to neighbors. Giannantonio said Christina Anderson and DiMaggio were not romantically involved but have a close friendship.

They say the Anderson children got along well with other children in the neighborhood but they recently came more often.

Hannah's friend from school Hannah Darby told NBC 7 that she'd met DiMaggio a couple times, and said he was like a second dad to Hannah. Darby also said DiMaggio has taken Hannah on a trip alone before.

In the last two months things became a little weird between Hannah and Jim DiMaggio, said Hannah's close friend Marissa Chavez at El Capitan High School Marissa Chavez. She was in the car  with the two when DiMaggio said something the girls thought was awkward. 

"He said, 'If you were my age I would want to date you.'" said Chavez. "After that she didn't want to be alone with him."

DiMaggio currently works at the Scripps Research Institute. Court records show that he filed for divorce in 2003.

“We believe that if they are with DiMaggio that they are in danger,” Giannantonio said adding that FBI agents have been asked to help in the investigation.

Anyone who spots the children or DiMaggio should call 911.

Giannantonio could not disclose how Anderson was killed. He said the medical examiner will try and identify the burned remains of the child found in the rubble.

Anderson lived with her two children in Lakeside according to officials. The children were last seen on Aug. 3 officials said. The grandparents reported the children missing.

Officials also found remains of weapons found that were burned in the fire but would not reveal the number or type of weapons found.

New Haven Man Charged With Sexually Assaulting a Child


West Haven police have arrested a 23-year-old man wanted for the alleged sexual assault of a child related to him.

Edison Vidrio, of 227 Quinnipiac Avenue in New Haven, was arrested in New Haven for first-degree sexual assault and risk of injury to a child.

Investigators learned the assaults took place in West Haven over the course of several years and continued when the family moved to New Haven.

Vidrio was held on $50,000 bond and is due in Milford court Aug. 20.

Photo Credit: West Haven Police Department

Police Say Lock Your Doors After Several Car Thefts & Break-Ins


It took less than 30 seconds for car thieves to steal an unlocked Jeep Cherokee from a Cumberland Farms store in Naugatuck yesterday.

In a two-day span, burglars broke into 16 cars in Vernon.

These are just two of several car thefts and break-ins in several Connecticut towns over recent weeks.

The common thread running through the spate of thefts is that the owners are leaving cars unlocked, so police are asking residents to lock their car doors when leaving a vehicle unattended.

Between Aug. 4 and 5 in Vernon, burglars items from cars in the neighborhoods of Hany Lane, Skinner Road, Dart Hill Rd, Barbara Road and Emma Lane.

This is also happening in South Windsor and Ellington and investigators are trying to determine whether the cases in the three towns are connected.

In these cases, cash, sunglasses, phones, GPS devices and other electronics have been taken.

South Windsor police said thieves entered unlocked cars on Farmstead Drive, Greenfield Drive, Skyline Drive, Nutmeg Road North, Jessica Drive, Newmarker Road, Natsisky Farm Road, Leah Lane and Debbie Drive over the weekend.

Like many of the cars that have been broken into, the Jeep stolen from the Cumberland Farms store on Main Street in Naugatuck was unlocked. In this incident, the keys were also left in the ignition, according to police.

In some cases, victims have left the cars running, according to Naugatuck police. 

This is a crime of opportunity.

Police said car thieves have been hanging around in gas stations, convenience stores and public parking lots, just waiting for an opportunity to take vehicles when they are left unattended.

Naugatuck police remind residents never to leave your keys in an unattended car, even while running a quick errand. Always lock your car and pocket the keys.

Never attach a tag with your name and address to a key ring. If the keys are lost or stolen, the tag will lead the thief directly to your car and your home.

Avoid leaving an auto unattended in public parking lots for an extended period of time. A car is five times more likely to be stolen from an unattended lot than from the street or an attended lot.

When you park the car, remove valuable possessions from the seat. These items tempt thieves and should be locked in the trunk.

If your car is stolen, notify the police immediately and have the following information ready: your license plate number and state, the vehicle make, model, color, and year, the vehicle identification number and also provide a list of distinctive features and special accessories and their serial numbers.


Photo Credit: Naugatuck Police

Part of Route 85 Closed in Waterford


Only one lane of Route 85 in Waterford is getting by just past the Speedbowl after a delivery truck struck a telephone pole earlier, bringing down live wires.

Expect heavy delays in the area, according to the Waterford Police Department’s Facebook page.

The delivery truck was heading south on Route 85 on its way to make a delivery at Crystal Mall when it drifted off the road and hit a phone pole. Police said they believe the driver fell asleep.

Wires are hanging about 5 feet above the road and Connecticut Light and Power is at the scene, working on the pole.

During the closure, traffic was diverted from Wayhill Road to Butlertown Road to Lakes Pond Road, and back onto Route 85 when going north, and in reverse for southbound traffic, police said.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Middletown Couple Charged With Drug Trafficking


A Middletown man and his girlfriend were arrested this weekend on drug trafficking charges after police found crack cocaine in their Traverse Square home.

According to police, Cedric Bass, 32, originally of 222 Pearl Street, was sentenced to a year in jail in January on drug-related charges, but allegedly continued to sell crack cocaine after being released on parole.

Police searched 47 Traverse Square, where Bass had been staying with girlfriend Nikiya Bond, 28, after receiving complaints from neighbors.

The residence is part of a housing project located near the Idella Howell Child Development Day Care Center at 44 Hamlin Court.

While searching the home, police found drug paraphernalia and a pot on the stove lined with cocaine residue, authorities siad.

Bond was arrested and charged with possession of narcotics, possession of narcotics with intent to sell, possession of narcotics with intent to sell within a public housing project, possession of drug paraphernalia within 1500 feet of a school zone, operation of a drug factory and possession of less than half an ounce of marijuana.

She was released on a $50,000 non-surety bond and is due in court Aug. 16.

Bass was arrested and charged with possession of drug paraphernalia near a school zone, possession of drug paraphernalia in a drug factory, possession with intent to sell, distribution of controlled substances less than 1500 feet from a school zone, possession of narcotics and possession of less than half an ounce of marijuana.

He was held on a $150,000 surety bond and is due in court Aug. 16.

Bass is a convicted felon with a history of drug charges, violation of probation, second- and third-degree assault, possession of marijuana and driving under the influence.

Officers also arrested one other man at Bond’s apartment and two people who allegedly bought drugs from Bass and Bond, according to police.

Photo Credit: Getty Images

Man Arrested After Reportedly Assaulting an Officer


New Haven police arrested a 34-year-old man Monday night after he passed through a speeding checkpoint on Forbes Avenue and then assaulted the officer who pursued him, authorities said.

Jose Antonio Mendez was arrested after leading police on a chase. Mendez sped off on Forbes Avenue when an officer tried to pull him over for driving 30 mph over the speed limit, police said.

Police chased Mendez to the 400 block of Quinnipiac Avenue, where Mendez got out of the car and charged at the officer, according to police.

Another officer arrived at the scene and police struggled to handcuff Mendez, who was kicking, hitting and spitting at them, police said. One officer reported that Mendez had injured his arm and knee, police said.

After handcuffing Mendez, police found him to be in possession of two bags of marijuana and over $2,500 in cash. His driver’s license had expired, police said.

Mendez was arrested and charged with two counts of assaulting a police officer, interfering with a police officer, engaging police in a pursuit, failure to obey an officer’s signal, traveling too fast, operating a motor vehicle without a license and possession of marijuana.


Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Groton Play Area Closed Over “Cicada Killers”


No children will be digging in the sandbox at Poquonnock Plains Park in Groton for a while because of insects called “cicada killers.”

Cicada killers emerge in mid-July to early August and most of the adult insects die by September, according to the Dyce Laboratory for Honey Bee Studies at Cornell University.

Groton’s Parks and Recreation Department recently taped off the area near the sandbox as the insects nest and feast on larva from cicadas.

Jerry Lokken, manager of the recreation department in Groton, said the bees lay eggs in the sand.
For the most part, the insects are rather docile and only look scary. If you stay away from them, they'll stay away from you.
"They're not really a danger to people unless you go up and actively act hostile toward them," Lokken said.
There is little that the parks and recreation department can do. Because the wasps or bees are near where children play, pesticides are not an option.
Lokken said no incidents have been reported and the cicada killers should be gone in about a month.

University of Iowa Named Country's Top Party School


The University of Iowa has taken the top spot as the country's most hard-partying school, according to Princeton Review's latest rankings.

The honor was announced on Monday to coincide with the release of its latest book "Best 378 Colleges: 2014 Edition." Iowa dethroned last year's top pick West Virginia University, which fell to fourth place.

The college admissions consulting company also released its list of "stone-cold sober schools." Brigham Young University is holding steady at the top of the list for the 16th straight year. The honor has prompted a version of a drinking game tradition that includes downing some chocolate milk each time the school makes the list.

The Princeton Review surveyed an average of 333 students per campus and worked with school administrators to come up with the rankings. The party schools are judged on the amount of time students spend studying and how active Greek societies are on campus.

Rounding out the top five party schools are: University of California, Santa Barbara, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, West Virginia University and Syracuse University.


Here is the full list:


1. University of Iowa, Iowa City, Iowa

2. University of California, Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara, Calif.

3. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Urbana, Ill.

4. West Virginia University, Morgantown W. Va.

5. Syracuse University, Syracuse, N.Y.

6. University of Florida, Gainesville, Fla.

7. Ohio University, Athens, Ohio

8. University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, Wis.

9. Penn State University, University Park, Pa.

10. Lehigh University, Bethlehem, Pa.

11. University of Georgia, Athens, Ga.

12. Florida State University, Tallahassee, Fla.

13. DePauw University, Greencastle, Ind.

14. University of Mississippi, University, Miss.

15. University of Texas at Austin, Austin, Texas

16. Miami University of Ohio, Oxford, Ohio

17. University of Maryland, College Park, Md.

18. Tulane University, New Orleans, La.

19. University of Vermont, Burlington, Vt.

20. University of Oregon, Eugene, Ore.


1. Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah

2. Wheaton College, Wheaton, Ill.

3. College of the Ozarks, Point Lookout, Mo.

4. Thomas Aquinas College, Santa Paula, Calif.

5. U.S. Military Academy, West Point, N.Y.

6. Grove City College, Grove City, Pa.

7. Wesleyan College, Macon, Ga.

8. U.S. Coast Guard Academy, New London, Conn.

9. U.S. Naval Academy, Annapolis, Md.

10. Calvin College, Grand Rapids, Mich.

11. City University of New York-Brooklyn College, Brooklyn, N.Y.

12. City University of New York-City College, New York City

13. City University of New York-Queens College, Flushing, N.Y.

14. Mills College, Oakland, Calif.

15. Agnes Scott College, Atlanta/Decatur, Ga.

16. Franklin W. Olin College of Engineering, Needham, Mass.

17. California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, Calif.

18. Simmons College, Boston

19. Wellesley College, Wellesley, Mass.

20. Xavier University of Louisiana, New Orleans


Mayor's Accuser: I Asked For Help, He Asked for Date


A nurse and a U.S. Marine claim San Diego Mayor Bob Filner abused his elected office when he asked for a date in exchange for helping a wounded veteran solve a problem with Veterans Affairs.

Special Section: Mayor Under Fire

Vocational nurse Michelle Tyler and U.S. Marine Katherine Ragazzino spoke Tuesday about a meeting with Filner in which the mayor implied that he would help solve Ragazzino’s issue with the VA only if Tyler agreed to attend a public event with him or have dinner with him.

Ragazzino suffered a traumatic brain injury and PTSD while serving in Iraq.

The two women were meeting with Filner as a follow up to a previous meeting with then-Congressman Bob Filner two years ago.

In the mayor’s office, Filner allegedly asked Ragazzino to leave the meeting and then began giving compliments to Tyler.

Tyler described a conversation with Filner where he asked if she were single and then asked her to meet with him on a personal basis.

“It was extremely disturbing to me that he made it very clear that his expectation was that his help for Katherine depended on my willingness to go to dinner with him, spend personal time with him and be seen in public with him, “ Tyler said.

“I felt that his rubbing my arm and telling me help for Katherine was contingent on my going out with him was extremely inappropriate and unacceptable,” Tyler said.

“I was not there looking for a date.”

The women and their attorney Gloria Allred said they have sent a letter to San Diego’s City Attorney Jan Goldsmith asking for an investigation into the mayor’s behavior.

The women will be speaking with San Diego County Sheriff’s Department investigators Tuesday afternoon at the state Attorney General’s Office downtown, Allred said.

“I don’t appreciate being used as a bargaining chip to fulfill his sexual desires,” Ragazzino said wiping away tears.

“I hope that Mayor Filner will never have the opportunity or be in the position to do what he did to Michelle or to any other person again,” Ragazzino said.

Mayor Under Fire: Key Players

Allred has filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against the City of San Diego and Mayor Filner but said Tyler and Ragazzino would not be filing a lawsuit.

Mayor Filner has nearly a dozen accusers to date, but only one – Filner’s former communications director Irene McCormack Jackson - has filed a lawsuit alleging sexual harassment.

The San Diego Sheriff's Department and State Attorney General's Office requested a meeting with Allred and McCormack Jackson Monday to determine whether her complaint reaches the level of a criminal act.

McCormack Jackson accuses Mayor Filner of, among other things, grabbing her in the so-called "Filner Headlock," trying to to kiss her and suggesting she might do a better job if she came to work without panties.

McCormack Jackson was questioned on the same day her former boss was scheduled to enter a two-week behavioral therapy treatment center. The mayor's office has not disclosed the location of the center or the behavior or disorder for which the mayor is seeking treatment.

“He can run he can hide if that is what he is doing but the day of judgment the day of justice is coming,” Allred said.

“A resolution is, he needs to resign as soon as possible,” she said.

The mayor is scheduled to be deposed by the City Attorney's Office on Friday.

“I don't know if he'll be there or not to put it in plain English,” Allred said.

She said the deposition may be continued. If not, Filner will have to either give a sworn statement or plead the Fifth.

Allred then sent the complaint to the San Diego City Attorney so he could further investigate.

City Attorney Jan Goldsmith sent a copy of Tyler’s complaint to the U.S. Attorney's office for its consideration.

Goldsmith said Allred worded the complaint to sound like Mayor Bob Filner was offering his political influence for sex.

Goldsmith said it will be part of the investigation but it could possibly amount to state or federal charges. He said it could be a violation of the Hobbs Act, which is often used by federal prosecutors to convict politicians that use their office to gain favors or gifts.

“You take an oath of office there are federal and state laws that say you cannot have a quid pro quo,” said Goldsmith.

Mayor Under Fire: Interactive Timeline

Nine other women have come forward alleging the mayor made unwanted sexual advances. Among the Filner accusers are a university dean, a school psychologist, a retired Navy admiral and a community college administrator.

Scott Suspends Miami Lakes, Sweetwater Mayors From Office


Florida Gov. Rick Scott said he has suspended Miami Lakes Mayor Michael Pizzi and Sweetwater Mayor Manuel Marono from office after they were arrested by the FBI on public corruption charges Tuesday.

Both mayors accepted thousands of dollars in bribes in separate schemes, authorities said.

The mayors were arrested by agents at their City Hall offices, following a two-year public corruption investigation, the U.S. Attorney's Office and FBI said during a news conference Tuesday afternoon.  

RAW VIDEO: Miami Lakes, Sweetwater Mayors in Handcuffs

"This is a sad day for South Florida, this betrayal of our public trust is intolerable," U.S. Attorney Wifredo A. Ferrer said. "Our democracy suffers in these cases when elected officials use their power and political influence for personal gain instead of the public good."

Scott suspended the mayors through executive orders.

Footage showed FBI agents placing Marono, 41, and Pizzi, 51, who were both handcuffed, into cars for the ride to federal court in downtown Miami, where they made their first appearances Tuesday afternoon. Marono was ordered held on $250,000 bond, while Pizzi was ordered held on $50,000 bond. Neither man had much to say as he bonded out.

"There'll be a time," Pizzi told reporters.

The defendants, including two lobbyists who are also involved in the alleged bribery schemes, Jorge Forte and Richard Candia, have been charged with conspiracy to commit extortion under color of official right, authorities said.

Pizzi's lawyer, Amanda Maxwell, said that he is an attorney and a public official, "and a man of integrity. Today begins his fight for vindication.”

“We really have no comment at this time, other than to say that we want to let the process work its way forward,” Marono’s attorney Armando Rosquette said. “And anything that we will be saying on behalf of Mayor Marono will be said in court.”

VIDEO: U.S. Attorney Announces Bribery-Related Charges Against Mayors

Vice Mayor Ceasar Mestre is serving as interim mayor in Miami Lakes, which plans to move forward with a special election in 90 days. Mestre did damage control at Town Hall.

"We're all surprised and very saddened by the events that have happened today," he said.

Mestre emphasized, "I ask everyone to please remember one of our basic tenets in our constitution. Everyone is innocent until proven guilty."

It will be business as usual in Miami Lakes, he assured residents.

In Sweetwater, Vice Mayor and City Commission President Jose Diaz became acting mayor, The Miami Herald reported.

Candia, 49, and Forte, 41, are expected to turn themselves in to the FBI on Wednesday before they appear in federal court, the FBI said. It wasn't immediately known whether they have attorneys.

Candia agreed to cooperate with law enforcement on June 25, the criminal complaint against him and Pizzi said.

Marono is in his third term as Sweetwater's mayor, and Pizzi is in his second term in Miami Lakes.

"This is disappointing. Public officials must be held to the highest standards," Gov. Scott said in a statement. "While we wait to see the evidence, the fact remains that elected officials must be held to the highest standard."

According to Ferrer, Marono received more than $40,000 in bribes since 2002 and Pizzi had received $6,750 in bribes.

The investigation began in June 2011 after authorities received a tip of corrupt activity, Ferrer said. Working on the tip, the FBI created a fictitious federal grant program, Ferrer said. It was made available through AmeriCorps, criminal complaints said.

Undercover agents proposed to Candia that with with the aid of corrupt local public officials, they could get federal grant money that they would keep among themselves, authorities said. One undercover agent told Candia that "the play here is for the money, is for us to get the money and be able to use the money, you know, and just make money," according to the complaint against Marono, Forte and Candia.

Candia identified the two mayors as potential participants in the scheme, authorities said.

After Candia introduced Marono to the undercover agents, he got a resolution to be passed that authorized the agents' company to apply for federal grants on behalf of the City of Sweetwater, the Marono criminal complaint said.

Marono, working with Forte, accepted cash payments for his support of the grant scheme, and lied to an FBI agent posing as a grant auditor, Ferrer said.

Marono and Forte received $40,000 while Candia received at least $5,000 in kickbacks in connection with the Sweetwater scheme, authorities said.

Salaries of South Florida Mayors

Marono also used his position as president of the Florida League of Cities to float the scheme to other public officials to see if they were interested, Ferrer said. Forte and Candia also worked toward that end, and Marono and Forte received an additional $20,000 for the introductions, authorities said. But no officials were interested, Ferrer said.

Pizzi participated in a similar scheme in Miami Lakes and Medley, Ferrer said.

Candia introduced Pizzi, who also serves as Medley's town attorney, to the undercover agents to help implement the grant scheme, and he initially agreed to participate in exchange for $750 in campaign contributions, authorities said.

To help in the scheme's success, Pizzi backdated a document that endorsed the undercover agents' company, according to authorities. He also lied to and misled an undercover agent, whom he believed was a federal grant auditor, about the use of the grant money and the performance of the grantee, the Town of Medley, authorities said. For his help in Medley, Pizzi received a $1,000 kickback and other things of value, they said.

Later, Pizzi worked to get a resolution passed in Miami Lakes authoritizing the undercover agents' company to seek grant money for the city, according to authorities. He received cash payoffs of $5,000 for his efforts in Miami Lakes, authorities said.

At a billiard club in Miami Lakes on Feb. 28, an undercover agent put a zip-lock bag containing an envelope with $2,000 in cash and two cigars on the edge of a pool table, telling Pizzi the cigars were for him. Pizzi said he didn't smoke, but the agent reminded him that Candia had said Pizzi wanted two cigars, the complaint against Pizzi and Candia said. Pizzi then took the zip-lock bag into the men's restroom, and when he returned he did not have the bag in his hands, the complaint noted.

According to his bio on MiamiLakes-FL.gov, Pizzi was born and raised in Brooklyn and moved to South Florida in 1988. When Miami Lakes was incorporated in 2000, he was elected to the Town Council.

Hialeah and Miami Lakes Mayors to Box for Charity

He was elected mayor in 2008 and reelected in 2012. He also serves as the attorney for the town of Medley and received his J.D. from the University of Miami, where he was first in his class, his bio said.

Marono became the youngest person elected to the Sweetwater commission at the age of 23 in 1995 and was elected mayor in 2003, according to CityofSweetwater.fl.gov.

Later on Tuesday, police escorted Marono's family members to the door of his Sweetwater home. A line of police vehicles protected his privacy on the curb.

Marono relayed a message through his attorney Kendall Coffey.

"This has been 10 years of great progress for the city of Sweetwater, progress that will continue, and Manny looks forward to the opportunity to prove his innocence," Coffey said.

More Local Stories:

Photo Credit: CityofSweetwater.fl.gov, MiamiLakes-fl.gov

Report on Sandy Hook Probe Expected This Fall


More than seven months have passed since the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary that left 20 students and six educators dead and the report into the shooting is expected to be released in the fall.

Gov. Dannel Malloy’s chief of staff today met with the State’s Attorney for the Judicial District of Danbury and Chief State’s Attorney about the Sandy Hook investigation and learned that the state’s attorney expects to issue his report in the fall.

“The scale of the investigation is such that even a fall release of the State’s Attorney’s report is well within what would be expected from this type of investigation,” a statement from the state Division of Criminal Justice says.

“The victims’ families have been a priority throughout the investigation and are spoken with regularly by the State Police and the State’s Attorney and will continue to be,” the statement goes on to state.

Last week, Malloy spoke out after the Hartford Courant revealed that Newtown and State Police officers continue to speak at conferences around the country about their response to the shooting.

State Police said that, in the most recent conferences, officers are only talking about the response to the shooting and lessons learned.
In March, Gov. Malloy and lawmakers criticized state police for revealing secret details about the investigation at a conference in New Orleans.  After that, a preliminary report was released while lawmakers were crafting new laws. Since then Danbury State's Attorney Stephen Sedensky, the lead prosecutor in the case, ordered police not to discuss the details of the case.
Last week, Malloy said he is anxious for the state to finish the report as soon as possible.
"This is extremely painful to a lot of people," he said. "The sooner we get this report out the better it is for the families and everyone else."

Photo Credit: AP

Pedestrian Critically Injured in New Haven Crash


An East Haven woman is in critical condition after she was hit by a car in New Haven on Monday night, police said.

According to police, the 30-year-old woman was struck around 9:40 p.m. in the area of 243 Chapel Street. She was rushed to Yale-New Haven Hospital.

She suffered a severe leg break and head trauma, among other injuries, authorities said.

Police are still investigating and are not releasing any additional information at this time.

Check back for updates.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock

WATCH: Life-Sized Wall-E Replica Robot Comes Alive


A citrus farmer in Bakersfield, Calif., and his group of "Wall-E Builders" have created a real life, moving and talking Wall-E robot from scratch.

In honor of "Geek Week," Tested posted a video on YouTube of Michael McMaster explaining how the beloved Pixar character was built over the course of nearly six years, tech site The Verge reported.

McMaster said a fellow member of the R2 Builders Club suggested they start a Wall-E Builders Club in 2007, one year before the movie came out.

Making Wall-E life-sized was a challenge because of the animated character's roots on-screen. Thanks to Blu-ray's high definition format, screen grabs from the movie helped McMaster and his team replicate the details of the robot, he told Tested. 

"The first thing we found was that there known objects in the movie: we had a Rubik's cube, a VHS tape," he said. "We were able to extrapolate how large the hands were in relation to the body, how big the body was in relation to the head. That's the way we worked, sort of in reverse."

Not only does the Wall-E replica look like the Pixar character, he also talks and moves just like the one on film. McMaster and his team are still working on improving the robot's movement.

Even Pixar's animators told the "Wall-E Builders" they were "pretty close" to the the original scale of the character, McMaster said.

Check out the interview below: 

Photo Credit: AP

Connecticut's Top 10 Cheating Towns


An online dating site targeted for people who are already in relationships has revealed Connecticut’s top 10 cheating towns.
AshleyMadison.com's tagline is: “Life is short—have an affair," and they have studied data on its nearly 240,000 Connecticut users, who have the ability to identify as "attached", "single" or neither.

According to the site, the most cheaters are found in the following Connecticut towns. The numbers indicate the percent of overall cheating users from Connecticut that reside in each area.

  • Westport, 5.9 percent
  • Stamford, 4.6 percent
  • Ridgefield, 4.2 percent
  • Danbury, 4 percent
  • Trumbull, 3.6 percent
  • Darien, 3.6 percent
  • Fairfield, 3.5 percent
  • New Canaan, 3.5 percent
  • Norwalk, 3.4 percent
  • Wilton, 3.3 percent

The website also recorded data about time people use the site, profession, and relationship status.

New Cannan has the highest percentage of active members past 11 p.m. while Westport has the highest percentage of members with children. Danbury was noted to have the highest number of members who work in education and Fairfield has the most single users in the state.

Founder and CEO Noel Biderman claims that affluence is a typical trait in the most infidel neighborhoods.

"The proclivity to cheat often goes hand in hand with opportunity. Those with discretionary income and freedom to travel are often the most likely to stray," he said.

The site experienced 40 percent user growth in Connecticut since 2011 and is a hub of extra-marital affairs across 28 countries and 10 different languages.

Photo Credit: NBCPhiladelphia.com
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