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Prostitution Suspect Says She's the "Best on Stock Island": Deputies


A woman who allegedly took $40 for oral sex in the Florida Keys and told an undercover deputy she was "best on Stock Island" was arrested by the Monroe County Sheriff's Office.

Dorothy Austin, 45, met the undercover deputy on Friday, who told her he was stressed, the sheriff’s office said.

As a solution, Austin “offered sex as a de-stressor,” a news release from the sheriff's office said.

When the deputy offered $40, Austin said that for “that amount of money would take her time,” the sheriff’s office said.

After she accepted the cash, Austin was arrested and charged with prostitution.

Stock Island has a population of about 4,000 people.

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Photo Credit: Monroe County Jail

Trial of Man Charged With Killing Adoptive Mother Begins


The trial of a South Florida man accused of raping and killing his adoptive mother began on Monday.

Gerard A. Lopes, 23, is charged with premeditated murder in the death of 43-year-old Natalie Belmonte, whose bludgeoned body was found in a marsh near their Pembroke Pines home in July 2011.

Prosecutors claim Lopes, who has pleaded not guilty, sexually assaulted his adoptive mother before killing her. In a hearing held last week, state prosecutors sought approval to introduce DNA evidence they say shows the motive was sexual assault.

An autopsy showed that semen found in Belmonte matched Lopes’ DNA, but Lopes’ attorneys argue it's not relevant because the sexual relationship was consensual.

During that hearing, the state called a DNA expert, Dr. Martin Tracey, to the stand. Tracey testified the level of integrity of the DNA found shows the semen was deposited at the time of the murder.

"We know from other kinds of studies that I'm familiar with and teach at the university, the survival time for semen is about 3 to 5 days,” Tracey said.

But during opening statements on Monday, the prosecutor didn't introduce that argument.

Before the trial began, the lead detective in the case told the judge he overheard a jail conversation between Lopes and one of his attorneys, where Lopes allegedly said that he was going to say it was a consensual sexual relationship.

That attorney, Samantha Epstein, testified on Monday that "he asked questions such as, 'So they have to prove that it wasn't consensual?' — which is not at all the same as, 'I am going to say it was consensual.'"

Prosecutor Adriana Alcalde-Padron said he "strangled her, beat her, killed her and threw her away with no panties."

Police said security video from a neighbor’s house shows Belmonte and Lopes, who was 21 at the time of his 2011 arrest, leaving in the same car and stopping at a Walgreens before heading to a party.

The car returns with both individuals around 2:48 a.m. A short time later, Lopes is seen dragging a bag across the driveway and loading bags into the trunk. Belmonte's body would be found three days later near their Pembroke Pines home.

During last week's hearing, prosecutors called Belmonte's sister Michaela Teixeira to the stand and asked point blank about the possibility of a consensual sexual relationship.

"There's absolutely no way she had a consensual sexual relationship with her son,” she said.

Broward Circuit Judge Matthew Destry had ordered two prerequisites. If the state can establish a sexual relationship has serious negative consequences on Lopes, and secondly that the semen was deposited at or near the time of death, he'll admit the evidence. He also warned that if the state presents the argument into opening statements but fails to prove relevance, he'll grant a mistrial.

Belmonte's daughter Brianna said her mother treated Lopes "like a son."

Defense attorney Jose Reyes said, "There is no evidence of ill will."

Lopes' clothing was found in a dumpster with Belmonte's blood on it.

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LGBT Seniors Camp Out for One-of-a-Kind Housing


In a light jacket and baseball cap, Ellis Sacks sat patiently outside the William Way Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Community Center in Philadelphia early Monday, hoping to find a new place to call home.

“I pay a lot now for my condo, and I’m ready to downsize,” he said.

The 73-year-old wasn't alone.

A line of more than 100 like-minded seniors stretched down the 1300 block of Spruce Street in the morning hours, waiting to fill out an application to move into a first-of-its kind living community.

The John C. Anderson Apartments, just off of 12th and Spruce Streets in the heart of the Gayborhood, stands to become the region’s first haven for aging LGBT seniors. Currently under construction, the community features 56 one-bedroom units for those 62 years and over who make $33,000 or less a year.

Sacks, who lives solely on Social Security, says he will save more than $1,200 a month should he win a spot in Anderson. But more than the money, he says the move will also help him foster relationships – old and new – within the community.

“It’ll enhance the sense of community,” Sacks said. “A place to hang out that’s not a bar, that’s not sexually charged. It’ll just be a place for friends to be.”

A sentiment that was echoed many times by others standing in line.

“It would be nice to be moving back into the city to be moving into that community of people,” said a 63-year-old man who’s getting ready to retire and asked that his name not be used.

“We would hang out and think, ‘What’s it going to be like when we’re old?’” said lifetime activist Susan Silverman. A New York City resident, she plans to move south should she get a spot in the complex. “This [the LGBT housing] is one of the things we fantasized about.”

It’s estimated that there are at least 1.75 million LGBT seniors living in the United States, according to the U.S. Administration on Aging — a number that’s expected only to grow. However, affordable housing remains a key issue for that segment of the community.

“We owe the pioneers of our community a place to live in dignity within their community. They earned it, they deserve it and that’s what we’re doing,” said Mark Segal of The Dr. Magnus Hirschfeld Fund, the organization that’s spearheading the project.

The National Resource Center on LGBT Aging says several studies have found LGBT seniors face housing discrimination. A 2009 study in Michigan found 30 percent of same-sex couples were treated differently when buying or renting a home, while 33 percent said they would hide their orientation if they moved into a retirement home.

“We’ve had women who haven’t been allowed to bring their partners into the building after 23 years of being together. We have people who live in buildings where the staff pray around them, trying to pray the gay out of them,” Segal said. “We have people who aren’t out to their families and for the first time want to live in their community.”

Financial insecurity and a lack of cheap housing inventory is also more prevalent among the 65 and over LGBT community, according to the National Resource Center on LGBT Aging.

“People who came out in 1969… you would have been one-tenth of one percent of America who was out. And those people who were out, in those days, who are now in their 60s and 70s, well, they didn’t get 401ks. If you were out in those days, you couldn’t get a good job, and this building will serve people like that,” Segal says.

The Anderson Apartments will also allow the city’s LGBT organizations to hold events on site in the complex’s community room and offer health services tailored for gay, lesbian and transgendered individuals.

“It’s just terrific that after so many years we can take the housing needs of our seniors seriously and provide them the most beautiful apartments that you can get,” said William Way LGBT Community Center Executive Director Chris Bartlett.

While the Anderson Apartments are tailored for the LGBT community, you don’t have to identify as a member of the community to live there.

Jerry Bradford, a 67-year-old retiree who stood last in Monday morning’s line, said while he’s not a member of the LGBT community, the apartment building’s location and price are too good to pass up.

“I’m looking for better housing at a better rate, and I just wanted to apply,” he said. “Plus, it’s near my mother’s place.”

Applicants will be notified in 60 to 90 days as to whether they're chosen, and move-in will begin in January.

Contact Vince Lattanzio at 610.668.5532, vince.lattanzio@nbcuni.com or follow @VinceLattanzio on Twitter.

Photo Credit: NBC10.com - Vince Lattanzio

Man Punched in Possible "White Man" Bias Attack Dies


A 62-year-old white man who was allegedly punched and knocked out last week by a black man who declared he would attack the first white person he came across has died, law enforcement sources said Monday.

The man was one of three people allegedly beaten Wednesday in Union Square by the suspect, LaShawn Marten, 31.

NYPD's Hate Crimes Task Force is investigating.

Police said the suspect punched the 62-year-old man in the face, and then punched a 48-year-old person and an 18-year-old person, both also white. 

The 62-year-old slipped into a coma after the attack, and died Monday. The other victims were treated at hospitals and released.

The suspect "made statements to the effect that ‘I’m going to punch the first white man that I see,'" Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said last week.

The suspect's lawyer information was not immediately available. 


Hartford Officials Weigh City Car Policy After High-Profile Issues


When the Hartford City Council meets tonight, they are expected to evaluate the policy for allowing city employees to take home city-owned vehicles and the discussion comes amid some high-profile issues.

A Hartford Department of Public Works employee was charged with driving under the influence after crashing her city-owned car into another vehicle in Hartford on Saturday night, according to police.

Police said Rhonda Moniz-Carroll, a city employee, was driving the city-owned 2012 Ford Escape, which was totaled in the crash.

Caitlyn Greenabum, of Hartford, was in the other vehicle and was placed in the intensive care unit at St. Francis Hospital after the crash.

This collision is the latest of some high-profile issues connected to city-owned cars.  

Last month, Andrew Jaffee, the director of emergency services for the city of Hartford, was fired over several problems with how 911 dispatched emergency crews in the city.

He was also questioned over using his city vehicle to travel to his home in West Suffield, even though he was required to live in Hartford because he served as a department head.

In July, officials discovered that the mayor’s former chief of staff had been driving his former city car for weeks after leaving his city job.

City officials have been conducting an audit of all Hartford municipal vehicles.

If a proposal to limit the use of city-owned vehicles goes through, only the mayor, police chief, fire chief, director of public works and a few city employees would be able to continue using them.

Man Accused of Attacking 85-Year-Old Woman at Senior Complex


A Danbury man is behind bars, charged with breaking into an 85-year-old woman’s apartment and attacking her early Saturday morning.

The alleged assault happened at a senior housing complex on West Wooster Street in Danbury. For those who have relatives at Wooster Manor, the news came as a shock and an outrage.

“Right now I’m afraid for my mom because she lives here,” John Totten, of Danbury, said.

Police identified the suspect as Donny Jackson, 26, of Danbury. Officers said he broke into the apartment and beat the woman so hard she suffered several injuries including a broken hip.

“I could sit here and cry about it. I know the lady and I know her whole family,” Carol Roos, of Danbury, said.

When neighbors tried to intervene during the alleged attack, police said Jackson pulled out a gun and then took off.

Officers soon caught up with him, and the Danbury man went before a judge Monday morning.

He faces several charges including burglary, assault of an elderly person and criminal mischief.

Police said Jackson also has several outstanding warrants in other states. He was held on $1 million bond.

It is still unclear how he got into the building.

The Housing Authority at Wooster Manor did not return calls from NBC Connecticut.

Residents say they did hold a meeting about new security procedures after the incident.

The victim’s daughter showed up to Jackson’s arraignment. She said her mother is still in the hospital, but expected to be okay.



Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Hartford Proposes New Ordinance for City Cars


The City of Hartford wants to stop employees from taking home city issued cars after a series of high profile problems.

The weekend crash on Farmington Ave. and Prospect Ave. in Hartford got the attention of city leaders.

“This has to change,” explained City Councilor Ken Kennedy.

Police say Rhonda Moniz-Carroll, the Deputy Director of Hartford’s Public Works Department caused it.

She was allegedly driving drunk in her city take home car.

Just months ago, the Mayor’s former Chief of Staff took his city SUV without permission after he resigned.

Police found it vandalized by his apartment.

“Absolutely there is a problem with use and oversight of city vehicles,” explained City Council President Shawn Wooden.

On Monday night, the Hartford City Council introduced a new ordinance to get rid of these take home cars for supervisors and department heads.

The new ordinance would mean the Mayor, Police Chief, and Fire Chief would have take home cars. The idea now needs to be approved.

“The take home cars need to go,” Ken Kennedy added.

Mayor Pedro Segarra does not know how many workers have city cars.

He does not have a specific number and says there could be around 50.

City Councilors don’t know an exact number either.

An audit will be performed in the next few weeks to get those numbers.

They will vote on the ordinance in October.

Meanwhile, the Mayor fired Moniz-Carroll following her arrest on Saturday night.

“He knows what’s in a police report is hearsay,” said her husband, Kevin Carroll.

He says the drunk driving accusations were not true.

He said the Mayor made the move without having all the facts.

“There’s no due process that was given here,” Carroll added.

It is a decision the Mayor stood by.

“Obviously we expect our employees to comply with regulations,” Mayor Pedro Segarra said.



Photo Credit: Hartford Police/NBC Connecticut

Crabbers: Worst Maryland Crab Season in 20 Years


Restaurants all over the country are dealing with a shortage of Maryland crabs.

The stock in the Chesapeake Bay was low this year, which has suppliers looking to other places to keep up with demand.

Angus Phillips, who used to write the fishing and outdoors column for the Washington Post, and Gene Miller normally expect to catch a bushel a day when they go recreational crabbing on a tributary of the Severn River, but this year they're lucky to get enough for lunch.

“Normally when we have a down year we’ll see lots of females, lots of little crabs that aren’t big enough to keep,” Phillips said. “This year we're not seeing anything.”

“The taking of females, I’m sure the commercial guys are going to hate me, but sometimes someone’s gotta say, 'No more females,'” Miller said. “Take a year off. See what happens.”

Commercial crabbers are suffering financially from the shortage. Cantler's Riverside Inn in Annapolis buys from six or more crab suppliers, who tell them it is the worst crab season in 20 years.

“It’s definitely dropped off about 60 to 70 percent from what they were catching last year, without a doubt,” Cantler’s manager Dan Donnelly said. “I mean, that’s pretty dramatic.”

And the demand remains high. Cantler's is serving up tray after tray, seven days a week. Many of the crabs come from out of state.

"Well, we subsidize with Louisiana crabs, and they've been hard to get as well because of demand,” Donnelly said. “Of course, if they’re not here in Maryland, everybody’s going to Louisiana or Texas or Florida.”

The Bethesda Crabhouse, which has been in business since 1961, says it always has a good supply on hand. Manager Yen Lee showed a bushel of Louisiana crabs, which he says are as sweet as local crabs, though some local crab lovers disagree.

“The majority of crabs, even if they’re going to the shore, they’re getting the same stuff we’re getting,” Lee said. “I mean, there are local crabs but they’re very few and they tend to be on the smaller side, so the all-you-can-eat variety."

An expert fisherman, Phillips is puzzled by what caused the shortage.

"It's worse than it’s ever been, and I would like to hear somebody acknowledging it and giving us some idea of what the cause is," Phillips said.

Woman Attacked by Dog In New Haven


Mary Jane Giardi is recovering after a dog attack put her in the hospital for three days.

"The dog charges me and knocks me to the ground," Giardi said about the pitbull that attacked her in the middle of Wooster Park last week.

Even though it's a pitbull, she says the dog is not to blame, but its owners are.

"And all of a sudden out of the corner of my eye a dog coming was from the left," said Giardi, adding that it was too sudden for her to react. "And I'm lying there and it comes over and takes two bites out of my arm."

Giardi says she feels lucky a nurse was nearby.

"My wound was so deep I knew had to do something immediately so he came over with clean towels," said Giardi.

Her husband, John Colebaug, was surprised when his wife came home.

"The last thing you expect is she comes through the door drenched in the blood," he said.

They rushed to the hospital where doctors told them that Mary Jane's infection could have been worse if she hadn't come in sooner.

Later they called police and found out the dog did not have a rabies shot. On top of that, it wasn't licensed

"It's just amazing to me that I trusted that person who had them on a leash," said Giardi.

"And that's human error. That's not caring enough about your animal to take care of it," said Peter Webster of the Wooster Square Block Watch Group, who adds that he's seen the dog and its owner and doesn't go near it.

Colebaug says it's tried to attack their poodle before.

"If it had been a child or someone more elderly or frail or whatever…who knows," said Colebaugh.

Giardi spent three days in the hospital and now has a nurse coming to help her every day to make sure the wound heals properly.

"I hope I'm not just a statistic. I hope that this leads to something," said Giardi.

As of Monday night, animal control still had the dogs locked away.

If there is a prior police record for the dog, Mary Jane and her husband tell us it will be returned to its owner with just a misdemeanor. If the dog has been in trouble before it could be a crime.

Car in Police Pursuit Collides With MTA Bus, Dozens Hurt


Dozens of people were injured when a vehicle being chased by police collided with an MTA bus in the Bedford-Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn Monday evening, authorities say.

Law enforcement sources said when police pulled over a black Camaro and spotted a gun inside the car, the Camaro took off. The car then collided with a bus near Herkimer Street and Albany Avenue at about 4:45 p.m.

The FDNY says 43 people were hurt, including the driver and the passenger of the car, who had to be extricated. They were arrested by police. 

Forty-one passengers on the bus also reported injuries, most of them minor. Twelve people were reported to be in serious condition, and one was critical. 

They were taken to Kings County, Interfaith and other nearby hospitals. 

-- Shimon Prokupecz contributed to this report. 

New Haven Mayor Candidates Hit Trail


The four Democratic candidates for New Haven mayor hit the campaign trail on the eve of the primary.

Henry Fernandez, Toni Harp, Justin Elicker and Kermit Carolina all spent Monday greeting voters and making phone calls.

Primary voters will decide which candidate will go on to the general election as the Democratic candidate.

Whomever comes out on top in November New Haven will have its first new mayor in 20 years.

"I think this race is wide open," Fernandez said. "It's wide open tomorrow and it's wide open in November."

Justin Elicker, a city Alderman, is also gaining support among voters.

"I'm focusing beyond politics as usual and that speaks to folks in the Democratic primary and it speaks to non Democrats and unaffiliated members as well," he said.

Kermit Carolina, the principal at Hillhouse High School, continues to criticize what he calls the New Haven establishment.

"We have an establishment that has been in place for the past 20 some odd years," Carolina said. "They've ignored the needs of the people."

Toni Harp, the state senator, is the party endorsed candidate who has been considered to be the favorite.

She said if she wins on Tuesday, she will still win in November, despite the fact that her three opponents plan to challenge her as independents in the general election.

"It will show that I have the majority of Democrats behind me," Harp said. "This is a Democratic city I would expect that they would be behind me through November."

Polls open at 6 a.m.


Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area

Family of Kidnapped Man Speak Out


Christopher "TJ" Jefferson was kidnapped and murdered last week and his family is now grieving the second murder of a relative in three months.

"Why would you do that? Why would you kill my brother," Ancilla Herrera, Jefferson's sister, asked.

With her two daughters and close friends, Herrera sat near where her younger brother was kidnapped on Bond Street in Hartford Thursday afternoon.

"They told him to meet him over there and just took off with him. I don't know. It's senseless," said Herrera.

Portland Police found 26-year-old Jefferson dumped along the side of the road, beaten and shot. He later died from his injuries.

No arrests have been made.

"You didn't have to kill him. He didn't bother nobody; like that for people to just kill him," said Herrera. "Whoever you are, just turn yourself in. Just turn yourself in."

For the family, this is the second murder to hit them in three months.

"My sister Georgette was murdered in New Haven a few months ago," said Herrera.

Forty-year-old Georgette "Candi" Alston died on June 3 when authorities say her boyfriend, Frank Moore, beat Alston and then set their third-floor apartment on fire with her still inside.

Moore has been charged with her murder.

NBC Connecticut asked Hartford Police if these two cases are connected but were told authorities are not releasing any details right now regarding motive for Jefferson's murder.

"It's traumatic. It's traumatic," said Herrera.

As the memorial for Jefferson on Bond Street grows, all his family can pray for now is that his killers are found.

"I love my brother. I care about my brother," said Herrera. "We want justice for my brother."

A vigil for Jefferson takes place Tuesday at 6pm at the site of the memorial on Bond Street in Hartford. The family is asking anyone who can to make a monetary donation to help them cover funeral costs.

NASA Aims Again for Manned Missions


NASA’s dreaming big dreams again, aiming for a manned asteroid mission in the not-so-distant future. That means big money for California and a boost - of solid rocket booster proportions - to the state’s once-robust aerospace industry.

After a couple of touch-and-go years with the retirement of the Space Shuttle Program and cancellation of the Constellation Program, NASA is back in the game. Its new manned capsule and launch system will have us break free of low Earth orbit and rendezvous with asteroids, even the moons of Mars and the Red Planet itself.

NASA invests almost $3.5 billion a year in California. From heat shields to thundering rockets and parachutes that bring home astronauts safely, it all adds up to critical jobs.
With the shuttles retired, NASA is now focusing on the Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle and its Space Launch System (the biggest, baddest rocket ever).

On a brisk morning in the Arizona desert’s Yuma Proving Ground, a group of Southern Californians gathered in the pre-dawn hours. They worked alongside a team from NASA’s Johnson Space Center and YPG’s personnel on Orion strapped in the back of a Boeing C-17 transport aircraft.

Light winds blew through the open hatch at the back of the big aircraft and that was good news - a perfect day for this mission that would send Orion plummeting out of the back of the C-17, 25,000 feet above the desert.

This mission would intentionally fail a key stabilizing parachute called a drogue. If something goes wrong, Orion’s crew must stay safe. With one drogue parachute out, that means the capsule will be coming through the atmosphere at a much higher velocity and with less stability when the main parachutes open and that could end up with parachutes entangled, very bad news.

But Airborne Systems, part of HDT Global, factored in all the contingencies as it developed this system for NASA. If something doesn’t deploy, the rest of it better kick in to make up for the failed parachute.

This day would test that.

As the sun rose over the distant mountains, you could hear the sounds of choppers coming in - loaded with personnel to help retrieve the parachutes once Orion launched from the back of the C-17 and descended to the desert floor.

With binoculars pointed skyward someone spotted the aircraft and its 21,000 pounds of precious cargo “Oh there it goes! There it goes!”

Orion shot out of the back of the C-17. If all went perfectly, two drogues would have deployed slowing and stabilizing the capsule’s mad descent. Three pilots would deploy to then pull out the main parachutes.

This mission intentionally failed one of the drogues, yet Orion landed fine, bottom-down on the Arizona desert.

“It performed flawlessly. We were a little bit concerned about how stable it would be,” says Adam Erskine of Airborne Systems.

The nation’s aerospace industry was beyond concerned when the Obama administration cancelled the Constellation Program in 2010. It was supposed to replace the Space Shuttle Program while exploring deep space and jobs were on the line.

“It was tumultuous. At a personal level it was chaotic for folks,” says Stuart McClung with NASA’s Orion Program.

Constellation gone. The shuttles retired. It was more blows to Southern California’s once-dynamic aerospace industry.
From 1990 to 2010, Los Angeles County alone lost almost 94,000 jobs. More than one year after Constellation died, NASA finally announced Orion had “survived.”

That came as incredible news for aerospace.

“It was relief. I had just finished staffing up to support the program and when there was a threat of it going away that would have been a huge impact on our company,” says Airborne Systems’ Kurt Hempe.

Thousands of Southern Californians are working on Orion and SLS and the technology that goes into these systems is key to the aerospace industry as a whole.

“It’s very important,” Hempe said. “Orion is not only important for Orion itself, it’s really paving the way for other commercial space companies as well. The lessons that we learn from the testing that we’re doing on Orion will benefits all those programs.”

It’s NASA technology, already propelling private companies such as "Space X" and bolstering a beleaguered aerospace industry as Southern Californians help America head back to the moon and beyond.

NBC4’s Lucy Noland and photojournalist Joel Cooke traveled to Houston’s Johnson Space Center, met the hard-working employees of Santa Ana, California’s Airborne Systems and headed out to the Yuma Proving Ground in the Arizona desert to capture this next chapter of manned American space flight.

Watch her exclusive report above.

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Affordable Care Act Round-Up: 31 Million Still Uninsured


The Affordable Care Act is expected to extend health insurance coverage to millions more Americans come Jan. 1, but there will still be millions more without coverage. 

Left behind: Stories from Obamacare's 31 million uninsured

  • The Affordable Care Act is expected to extend health coverage to 25 million Americans over the next decade, but that will still leave a projected 31 million people without coverage by 2023.
  • Among those excluded are undocumented workers and poor people living in the 21 states that have declined to expand Medicaid under the ACA.
  • As a result, free clinics are planning to step up their efforts to focus on undocumented workers who can't buy insurance on the new online marketplace. Other clinics are also thinking about offering free dental care. (The Washington Post) 

North Carolina Hospital Closes, Citing No Medicaid Expansion  

  •  A small hospital in a coastal North Carolina community will close and its parent company partially blames the state governor's decision not to expand Medicaid under the ACA. 
  • The state's Republican Gov. Pat McCrory signed legislation in March blocking Medicaid expansion and the creation of a state-run health insurance exchange. 
  • The new funding dedicated to Medicaid expansion will reduce the money that hospitals get to treat the uninsured and poor, leaving hospitals with a shortfall. (The Huffington Post) 

Photo Credit: Getty Images

Cal Worthington, Famed Car Salesman, Dies at 92


Cal Worthington, the famed car salesman who appeared in TV commercials urging viewers to "Go see Cal," has died at 92.

Worthington, a decorated World War II bomber pilot who went on to build a car sales empire that grew to about two dozen dealerships in five states, was widely known for his wacky commericals featuring his "dog" Spot. His trademark ads, a fixture on the West Coast airwaves, starred Worthington and a rotating cast of exotic animals, including an elephant, a tiger and a killer whale, standing in for an actual dog.

Worthington died Sunday after watching football with his family in his home in Orland, a small town about 100 miles north of Sacramento, Worthington's lawyers said. No cause of death was released.

The Oklahoma native left his home to join the war, eventually flying 29 missions over Europe and serving as lead pilot over some of the first American attacks on Berlin, according to a statement prepared with Worthington's family. He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for his heroism.

After the war, Worthington began selling used cars outside of a post office in Corpus Christi, Texas, according to The Sacramento Bee. He made his way to Los Angeles in the 1950s, where he opened a dealership and later made a fortune in car sales. At its peak in the 1980s, his company was reportedly bringing in $323 million in annual sales.

He is survived by six children and nine grandchildren.

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Photo Credit: Getty Images

Car Carrying Three Girls Hits Pole in Waterbury


Witnesses helped free three girls who were in a car that struck a pole in Waterbury around 2:30 a.m. 

Witnesses heard two loud booms, went to investigate and saw that a car that had slammed into a pole in the area of 1400 East Main Street and Hamilton Park Road.

Three girls were inside the vehicle and people rushed to get them out. There were no serious injuries, police said.

“(T)he transformer had blown and there was a car that had hit the whole transformer. The whole pole (had) fallen on top of the car,” Melissa Cagle, of Waterbury, said.

Power was knocked out, but has since been restored and the street was closed, but has since reopened.

No additional information was immediately available.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Mt. Diablo Fire at 3,243 Acres, 60 Percent Contained


Hundreds of firefighters from across California's Bay Area region and state worked furiously to contain 60 percent of the "Morgan Fire" near Mount Diablo State Park on Tuesday morning, downgrading the size of the fire to a little more than 3,200 acres.

"Last night was a turning point," Cal Fire spokeswoman Tina Rose told NBC Bay Area. "We're not out of the woods, but we had a really aggressive firefight and they just put it into the box."

The manpower, coupled with cooler temperatures and more humidity, helped the 700-strong firefighting team get the upper hand on the fire, which was only 20 percent contained late Monday.

MORE: Weather Forecast for Morgan Fire

Airplanes with special infrared technology also assessed the actual fire damage and revised the charred acreage from 3,700 acres – reported Monday – down to 3,243 acres on Tuesday morning.

The fire's lack of growth was a relief for the 100 homeowners whose homes were threatened by the brush fire, which had quadrupled in size since it started on Sunday at 1 p.m. along Morgan Territory Road, the local landmark for which it is named.

"You sort of freeze up," said Paul Seaman, who lives four miles from the fire and worried that if the winds changed, his home and property could be affected. He then pondered aloud:  "What's the most precious thing to take with you?"

Four firefighters have suffered minor injuries battling the blaze.

MORE: Morgan Fire Prompts Smoke Advisory

Since Sunday, the dry weather, high temperatures and the steep rugged terrain of the mountainous area had presented major challenges for Cal Fire, the East Contra Costa and Contra Costa fire protection districts, San Ramon Valley Fire, East Bay Regional Parks and other law enforcement agencies working the blaze. And on Tuesday, faced with better weather conditions, Rose said teams would be "hitting it really hard from the air and from the ground" to get the fire fully under control.

"This has been an unusually dry season,"  Cal Fire Capt. Steve Kaufmann told NBC Bay Area. "It's dramatic fire behavior. It definitely presents a new hazard for us."

Mount Diablo, which stands more than 3,800-feet high and appears to be a double pyramid from many angles, is part of a state park that consists of 20,000 acres. The site, which is about a 45 miles outside of San Francisco, a popular hiking spot for many in the Bay Area.

PHOTOS: Mt. Diablo Morgan Fire

The fast and furious pace of the smoke billowing in and around the mountaintop on Monday prompted the Bay Area Air Quality Management District to issue warnings for residents of Alameda, Contra Costa and Santa Clara counties. Spokesman Tom Flanningan said people who smelled the smoke should shut their windows and stay indoors. Ash was falling from the sky like snowflakes in East Bay cities such as Danville and Dublin.

MORE: Cal Fire Incident Command Details

Fire officials said the fire's size should not reach the size of the Rim Fire, which has burned more than 250,000 acres in the Stanislaus National Forest near Yosemite since Aug. 17. But to be sure, a total of 500 firefighters were expected to help on the lines Monday, and special crews were being positioned to protect historic buildings in the area.

Because of the fire's initial reach, the Contra Costa County Sheriff's Office has issued more evacuations:  Trail Ride Road, Russelmann Park Road, East Trail Road, Upper Trail Road and Lower Trail Road, in addition to Curry Canyon Road and Oak Hill Lane, are under mandatory evacuation.

Roads were also closed to anyone except residents. Those included portions of Marsh Creek Road, Morgan Territory Road and Deer Valley Road.

The Clayton Community Library at 6125 Clayton Road  was set up as an evacuation center, and the Contra Costa County Fairgrounds was being used as a safe place to take horses, cattle, hogs, sheep and  goats. (For information call 925-673-0659 and 925-757-4400). The Heather Farms Equestrian Center in Walnut Creek was also taking in large animals. (For more information, please visit: www.ecwc.org or call 925-939-2929.)


NBC Bay Area's Jodi Hernandez, Kyle Bonagura, Vince Cestone, Tim Bollinger and Shawn Murphy contributed to this report.

Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area

Shelton Woman Dead After Two-Car Crash


A 69-year-old Shelton woman who was involved in a two-car crash in Shelton last Wednesday morning has died.

The crash happened at S. Constitution Boulevard and Ivy Brook Road at 9:10 a.m. on Sept. 4, according to police.

Kathleen Lilley, 69, of Shelton, was driving east on Ivy Brook Road and collided with a Ford that Christopher Struber, 25, of Ansonia, was driving south on South Constitution Boulevard, according to  police.

Lilley was taken to the hospital and has since died, according to police.

A passenger in the Volkswagen was also taken to the hospital with minor injuries.

Struber was not taken to the hospital.

Police are continuing to investigate.

Any witnesses or people with additional information can call the Shelton Police Traffic Division at (203) 924-1544.

New Canaan Cop Suspended for 10 Days


A New Canaan police officer accused in a physical altercation at Tequila Mockingbird Restaurant in New Canaan while off-duty on Feb. 23 has been suspended for 10 days after an internal investigation into the incident.

Police said someone went to the New Canaan police department at 11:45 p.m. on Feb. 23 and reported being involved in a physical altercation with Lieutenant Frederick Pickering, an off-duty New Canaan Police Officer, at the restaurant at 6 Forest St.

The complainants also told police that someone in the group with Pickering used racially offensive language. 

Pickering was placed on administrative leave in March, according to New Canaan Police, and the department conducted an internal investigation, which revealed that Pickering did not use racially offensive language.

Investigators determined that Pickering did commit some violations, including unlawful or oppressive use of authority, and Article 34-General Article, of the New Canaan Police Department’s Manual of Discipline, Rules & Regulations.

The State's Attorney also reviewed the case and said in June and said there would be no arrests.

“After a thorough review of all the evidence presented, I have concluded that there is insufficient evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that any specific person has committed a crime," State's Attorney David Cohen said in a statement released by New Canaan Police.


and determined that there will be no arrests.


Photo Credit: NBC Philadelphia

TS Humberto Expected to Become Hurricane Wednesday


Tropical Storm Humberto remained a tropical storm with maximum sustained winds of 70 mph Tuesday night, but the National Hurricane Center in Miami forecasts it to become a hurricane Wednesday.

As of 11 p.m., Humberto was moving northwest at 7 mph about 270 miles west of the southernmost Cape Verde Islands.

It is expected to strengthen during the next 48 hours. If it does become a hurricane on Wednesday, it would be the first of the 2013 season.

A turn toward the north at a slightly faster speed is expected during the next two days, with Humberto forecast to head northward Wednesday night and Thursday.

There were no coastal watches or warnings in effect for Humberto.

Meanwhile, tropical storm conditions were occurring on Bermuda as the reformed Tropical Storm Gabrielle slowed as it neared the island. A tropical storm warning was in effect for Bermuda, which Gabrielle was expected to pass near or just west of overnight, according to the NHC.

Gabrielle, which formed and dissipated last week, regenerated Tuesday morning near Bermuda. By 11 p.m., it had maximum sustained winds of 60 mph as it moved north at 8 mph about 25 miles south-southwest of Bermuda.

Gabrielle was expected to turn toward the north-northwest with a decrease in speed overnight or early Wednesday.

A storm surge of two to three feet above normal tide levels is expected on Bermuda and rough surf conditions will continue to affect Bermuda through Wednesday. Rainfall will be between two and four inches with isolated maximum totals of six inches possible.

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Photo Credit: National Hurricane Center
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