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Ex-Child Care Workers Arrested


Two former Minnieland Academy at The Glen employees have been charged with abusing several toddlers in their care, Prince William County Police announced Monday.

Kierra Nicole Spriggs, 24, of Woodbridge and Sarah A. Jordan, 29, also of Woodbridge, were both charged with two counts each of cruelty or injury to a child and assault and battery.

Between January and August of this year, investigators say, Spriggs and Jordan allegedly assaulted and abused at least three children between the ages of 1 and 2 at the Woodbridge daycare.

Authorities began their investigation earlier this month after a report from the Virginia Department of Social Services claimed workers at the childcare facility stomped on children's bare toes, covered their mouths with blankets and sprayed them with full pressure hoses, among other alleged abuses.

Additional charges are pending.

Parents told News4's Northern Virginia Bureau they noticed changes in their children’s behavior during the time of the alleged abuse.

Shanna Greisen said before she pulled her 21-month-old son out of Minnieland, he dreaded going to daycare.

"He would just cry," she said. "He would throw himself on the floor, you know. Just, 'No, Mommy; no, Mommy'."

She also noticed her son’s new fear of water.

"He won't go in the bathtub," she said. "He won't go in the big bathtub... The only way we can bathe him is in the sink."

Minnieland says it fired the teachers involved. Minnieland has 55 locations in Northern Virginia.

"If something did happen, I just hope that it's exposed and there are appropriate consequences," Greisen said.

Minnieland COO Chris Schuster directed the Northern Virginia Bureau to a video posted by the company’s owners, Jackie and Chuck Leopold.

In the meantime, parents are consulting attorneys to determine whether they want to take legal action against Minnieland.

Stay with NBCWashington for more on this developing story.



Snow This Morning, Rain Later


This morning, residents of the northwest hills of Connecticut are waking up to a light coating of snow and that is just the beginning of weather that will complicate travel this holiday week. 

After 6 p.m., a chilly rain, mixed with some sleet in the hills, will develop.

Rain should break out across the state and increase in intensity throughout the night.


If you plan to traveling for Thanksgiving on Wednesday morning, a lot of rain will likely make for a tough drive.

Very heavy rain will fall through 9 a.m. on Wednesday, with more periods of light to moderate rain continuing through 2 p.m.  In all, 2 to 3 inches of rain are possible.

Later on Wednesday, the conditions will be blustery with gusty winds. But drier air is moving in, so the roads will dry out nicely.

The storm is expected to cause only some poor drainage flooding because it has been a dry season so far.

Conditions are expected to be clear for motorists driving on Thursday.

State police are setting up roving patrols and DUI checkpoints over the long holiday weekend.


Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

School Bus Crash in Tolland


A school bus was involved in a crash on Browns Bridge Road in Tolland, according to state police.

No injuries are reported and the scene is now clear.


Photo Credit: Getty Images

TSA Expedited Screening Program Launches a Bradley


As Connecticut residents get ready to fly for Thanksgiving, an expedited TSA screening program is launching at Bradley International Airport.

The program is called TSA Pre✓, and allows travelers to get through security could take less time while leaving your belt, shoes and jacket on while you go through security.

You will also be able to keep your laptop in its case and leave liquids and gels in your carry-on luggage.

Several airlines are offering this service to frequent fliers as a perk, but other travelers will have to pay an $85 fee to enroll for five years.

The approval process can take around two to three weeks.

The following airlines are participating in TSA Pre✓: Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Hawaiian Airlines, United Airlines, US Airways, Virgin America and Southwest Airlines
To qualify, you must be a United State citizen and fill out an application. Learn more about the program and the application process on the Transportation Security Administration Web site.

For the most part, passengers said they like the sound of this.

As residents begin their Thanksgiving travel, there is already a TSA Pre-check line at Terminal A.

Some frequent fliers taking advantage of that especially with the long wait due to thanksgiving travel.

The program, which launched in Indianapolis and the Washington, DC area, is expanding and the official launch at Bradley will be announced at 10 a.m.

Photo Credit: AP

Obama Heckled on Deportation


A University of California, Berkeley graduate who has been vocal about championing the rights of undocumented people heckled President Barack Obama on Monday during a speech in San Francisco's Chinatown on immigration reform.

Ju Hong, 24, of Alameda, who graduated with a political science degree last year from Cal, was standing behind Obama when he began shouting.

"I need your help. My family will be separated on Thanksgiving," he said. "Please use your executive order. You have the power to stop deportation."

Others at the Betty Ong Center in San Francisco joined Hong and shouted, "Stop deportation, yes we can."

RAW VIDEO: Obama Heckled in San Francisco

Obama firmly insisted that he does not have the constitutional power to bypass Congress on the issue.

When the Secret Service rushed in to whisk Hong away, the president said Hong could stay, and the audience cheered in response. Hong later told NBC Bay Area that he supported Obama but has been disappointed about his efforts on immigration reform.

"I respect the passion of these young people," Obama said, noting they're fighting to keep their families together. "But we're also a nation of laws, that's our tradition."

"The easy way out is to yell and pretend I can do something" without addressing the laws that require such deportations, he said. "It's not just a matter of us saying we're going to violate the law."

"Ultimately, justice and truth win out," Obama said.

MORE: President Obama Talks Immigration, Fundraises in SF, LA

"We look like the world -- you've got a president named 'Obama,'" the president said. "What makes us Americans is our shared belief in certain enduring principles, our allegiance to a set of ideas, to a creed, to the enduring promise of this country."

Later, people who worked at his organization, ASPIRE, stated that Hong is not going to be ripped apart from his parents during the holidays, but that he can't go visit extended family in South Korea, because of his undocumented status.

Hong came to the United States when he was 11 with his mother and sister on a tourist visa, but told reporters later that they ended up staying after the paperwork expired.

Hong is currently a research assistant at Harvard University and serves on the DREAMer Advisory Committee at the International Institute of the Bay Area, according to his LinkedIn profile.

Previously, he listed himself as an outreach coordinator at  the Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance, a legislative intern for San Francisco and a senator at Associated Students of the University of California.

While a student at Cal, Hong was featured in a UC Berkeley Campus Life YouTube video in 2012,  produced in conjunction with a $1 million grant from the Evelyn and Walter Haas Jr. Fund for scholarships to go to undocumented students. At the time, UC Berkeley had 200 undocumented students from 20 countries.

In Hong's video profile
, he talked about how he had lived an upstanding life all the way through high school, earning a 3.8 GPA and participating in student activities, only to learn of his tenuous legal status while filling out college applications.

He said he spoke out publicly about his undocumented status because staying "silent would be worse."

NBC Bay Area's Cheryl Hurd contributed to this report.

PHOTOS: Obama Visits California

Photo Credit: Cheryl Hurd

Fire Breaks Out at Berlin Recycling Company


Fire broke out this morning at a recycling company on Christian Lane in Berlin.

A police officer said Recycling/Automated Material Company handles everything from glass bottles to cardboard boxes and employees work overnight, so several people were at work when the fire broke out.

The employees smelled smoke, then the alarms started going off and they had to be evacuated.

The fire is out, but firefighters have to check a lot of equipment inside the facility and it is not clear when employees will be allowed back inside.

The cause of the fire is not known, but it appears to be mechanical.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Fire Damages Bristol Home, Car


A house and a car were heavily damaged in a fire in Bristol early this morning.

The fire at the single-family raised ranch at 120 Claire Street was reported at 12:37 a.m., according to Bristol Police.

Firefighters and police officers responded to a fire. 

It was quickly brought under control, and no residents were injured, but there is extensive damage to the house and a car that was parked in the garage.

The fire marshal’s office is investigating. 

One Dead in Hamden Crash


A 36-year-old man died in a crash on State Street in Hamden Tuesday morning.

Emergency crews responded to the crash at 2260 State Street, near Ridge Road, around 8:45 a.m.  The crash closed State Street for more than an hour.

According to police, Joseph Manacchio, of Hamden,  was killed when his vehicle crossed the center line and hit another vehicle driving in the opposite direction on State Street. 

The driver of the other car, a 56-year-old from Ansonia,  had to be extricated from the vehicle, and was transported to Yale-New Haven Hospital with non-life threatening injuries. 

Police are asking any witnesses to the crash to call Officer Stephen DeGrand at 203-230-4030.

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Fire at A.C. Petersen


Fire is reported at A.C. Petersen Farms Restaurant at 240 Park Road in West Hartford.

The restaurant has been a fixture in the state since the early 1900s.

This is the second fire at the restaurant since July, when fire started on the roof and spread to a storage area that houses the electrical unit.  

We have no additional information. Check back for details.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Author of "Orange is the New Black" Coming to Hartford Stage


The hit Netflix original series, “Orange Is the New Black,” is based on the memoir of a woman who served time in a Danbury prison and she will be in Connecticut next month to give a talk and sign her books.

The Netflix show is based on the 2010 best-selling memoir by Piper Kerman, "Orange Is the New Black: My Year in a Women's Prison," which chronicles her journey in the Danbury Federal Correctional Institution after being indicted on charges connected to her involvement in a lover’s drug smuggling operation.

The Harriet Beecher Stowe Center calls the stories Kerman wrote of the women she met while in prison "compelling, moving and often hilarious" and said they raise "issues of friendship and family, mental illness, the odd cliques and codes of behavior, the role of religion, the uneasy relationship between prisoner and jailor, and the almost complete lack of guidance for life after prison."

The book and series has prompted a national discussion on challenges women face in the prison system and Kerman now serves on the board of the Women's Prison Association.

If you are not familiar with the story, Kerman was a 22-year-old Smith College graduate romantically tied to Nora Jansen, a woman connected to West African drug lord and ended up transporting a suitcase of drug money from Chicago to Belgium, she wrote in a column in Marie Claire.

“International baggage claim in the Brussels airport was large and airy, with multiple carousels circling endlessly. I scurried from one to another, desperately trying to find my black suitcase. Because it was stuffed with drug money, I was more concerned than one might normally be about lost luggage,” is how Kerman began the column she wrote for “Marie Claire” in March 2010

Kerman also talked about the book in an interview with WAMC. Listen here.

The main character of the Netflix show is Piper Chapman, played by Taylor Schilling, who experiences difficulty adapting to the hardships of prison life for during her 15-month sentence.

Because of overwhelming demand, the local talk will take place at Hartford Stage, at 60 Church Street, at 7 p.m .on Thursday, Dec. 12.

Tickers are $25 or $20 for members of the Stowe or Twain museums. You can call 860-280-3130 or buy them online

Park in the garage next door to Hartford Stage and mention the event for discounted $6.50 parking rate.

Women on Our Own, an artistic outreach program made up of women re-entered the community after serving in prison will perform. 

Photo Credit: Getty Images

Winds Threaten Macy's Balloons


Fierce winds expected to exceed 35 mph on Thanksgiving Day are threatening to ground the beloved cartoon balloons that float through Manhattan in the Macy's parade.

Parade organizers from Macy's say 16 giant balloons, some of which fly as high as five stories, might not be able to go if sustained winds reach 23 mph, with gusts of at least 34 mph. 

Sustained winds on Thursday are forecast at 15 to 22 mph, with gusts between 35 and 40 mph.

The larger balloons this year include Hello Kitty, Spider-Man, Toothless the Dragon, Greg from "Diary of a Wimpy Kid," the Pillsbury Doughboy, SpongeBob Squarepants and Buzz Lightyear.

Organizers say 36 smaller balloons, including a pair of pumpkins, a candy cane and a football, would still likely be able to go up even if the larger ones were grounded.

A commission set the wind speed limits in 1998 after a serious accident amid high winds the year before. Two people were seriously hurt when a Cat in the Hat balloon slammed into a metal pole.

Depending on the conditions, some giant balloons, which are about three times as big as the smaller ones, could fly at lower heights. Each balloon has different limits, depending on its dimensions.

The larger balloons each have between 70 and 100 handlers, plus a "flight management team" of 12 people, Macy's says. They are each anchored by two vehicles and monitored by an NYPD sergeant.

Macy's says organizers and the NYPD will look at "real-time" conditions, not forecasts, and will decide Thursday morning which balloons can fly, and how high.

The 2.5-mile parade starts at 77th Street and Central Park West and ends in Herald Square.



Heavy Congestion on I-84 West in West Hartford


Two lanes of Interstate 84 West in West Hartford are blocked because of crash near exit 40 in West Hartford and there is heavy congestion for several exits.

The crash at exit 40 appears to involve a car and a tractor-trailer.

State police had no immediate information about the crash.  

Traffic cameras also show heavy congestion at exits 42 and 43. 

National Turkey Pardon


President Obama is scheduled to officially pardon a turkey Wednesday, in keeping with a tradition that started in 1963 by John F. Kennedy.

But for the second year in a row, you can cast your vote to decide which bird will win the title of America's National Thanksgiving Turkey. This time around the match-up pits "Caramel" versus "Popcorn."

Each bird has a profile on Whitehouse.gov/turkey that includes recordings of their gobbles, stats about weight and "favorite songs" to help voters choose which bird they think is the most pardon-worthy.

"Caramel is a steady and deliberate bird that enjoys soybean meal and rocking out to Lady Gaga," a statement on the White House blog said. "When Popcorn is feeling peckish, he can't stop snacking on his namesake, corn, and has been known to strut around to Beyonce's "Halo."

Last year
was the first time the American public was given a vote on which of two turkeys would get the honor of a presidential pardon. People were invited to cast their votes on the White House Facebook page and choose between two birds: Gobbler and Cobbler.

While Cobbler was named the official National Turkey, both birds were sent to live out their lives at George Washington's Mount Vernon Estate and Gardens.

This year, voters can share their votes on Facebook or use the hashtags #TeamCaramel or #TeamPopcorn on Instagram and Twitter to cast votes. The deadline for voting is 8 p.m. Tuesday.

While voters are encouraged to cast their votes, the White House website claims the tradition is "all gravy" and that both turkeys will live out their lives at Morven Park's Turkey Hill in Leesburg, Va.

Even so, only one bird can be given the honor of being the National Thanksgiving Turkey.

The pardon is scheduled for 1:15 p.m. ET.

Photo Credit: FILE-AP

7 Injured in Oakland Shooting


Seven men were shot on an East Oakland street early Monday evening, causing the police chief of the city to decry the violence and ask for the public's help in finding the shooters.

"This is really kind of outrageous," Oakland police Chief Sean Whent told the Oakland Tribune after arriving at the scene. "Six o'clock at night isn't that late at night. (There were) a fair number of rounds fired out here, so (this is) really pretty brazen stuff on the street corner at that time of day."

Whent told the newspaper he was unsure at this point if all were the intended targets, or if some of the victims - all men between the ages of 23 and 31 - were innocent bystanders.

As of Tuesday morning, one of the men was still in critical condition and six were in stable condition at both Highland Hospital in Oakland and Eden Medical Center in Castro Valley. They all were expected to live.

MORE: Aerial View of Shooting Scene in East Oakland

Still, the number of gunshots fired - and right about dinnertime - had many people on edge.

Police Officer Johnna Watson said the city's ShotSpotter system and multiple phone calls of shots fired near the corner of 96th Avenue and Olive Street sent police scrambling to the intersection just after 6:08 p.m.

Officers found multiple victims in the sidewalk area there, and more victims turned up at a hospital a short time later.

No motive has been established and no suspects have been arrested.

Watson said police believe that people in the area witnessed the shooting and are urging anyone with information to contact Oakland police by texting TIP OAKLANDPD to 888777 from your cell phone or call the toll-free tip hotline at 855-TIPS-247 (855-847-7247).

Man Accused of Taking Pornographic Photos of Autistic Boy


A Woodstock man accused of taking pornographic photos of an autistic 13-year-old boy has been arrested on federal charges.

Authorities said Ryan Harding, 28, of Woodstock, worked at an organization that provides services to people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and that is how he had access to the victim.

Federal authorities are not identifying the organization Harding worked for, but said he had unsupervised access to autistic boys for hours at a time.

He would take children out into the community as a form of treatment, according to authorities. Some of the children are nonverbal.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office claims that Harding drove the 13-year-old boy to a convenience store on October 14, went into the restroom with him and use his iPhone 5 to take sexually explicit photographs of the child. 

Harding was arrested today on a federal criminal complaint and charged with production, receipt, and possession of child pornography.

According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Harding downloaded child pornography between July 16 and October 30 through an online peer-to-peer file sharing program and authorities found 1,043 photos and 144 videos of child pornography on his laptop and thumb drive.

He told investigators that he gets sexually aroused while looking at child pornography, according to the criminal complaint.

Harding appeared in court today and is being detained.

Foodshare Reaches Turkey Goal, Needs Cash


This morning, Foodshare still needed 2,000 turkeys to provide Thanksgiving dinners for Connecticut families in need. 

This afternoon, they reached their goal. People flocked to the Bloomfield facility and brought in enough birds to meet the goal of 20,000.

“The generosity of the people of greater Hartford is truly remarkable,” Foodshare president Gloria McAdam said. “But it was close. Historically, Monday has been our busiest day, often meeting our goal that same evening. But this year the parking lot was quiet, until today. That’s never happened. And while we’re enormously grateful it did finally happen, we were nervous.”

During the month of November, donations provide a traditional Thanksgiving dinner for people who are struggling.

This is only part of the drive, however. 

As of today, Foodshare has received $614,131 in donations, but still needs to raise $300,000 before the end of November to fund hunger work throughout the year.

Learn more on the Foodshare’s Web site.

To donate: 


East Haven Mayor Wants to Hire Civilian Dispatchers


Over a three-month span, the East Haven police department signed off on 777 overtime shifts at a cost of more than $280,000, according to a report in the New Haven Register.

Mayor Joseph Maturo has previously said he wants to hire civilian dispatchers and has sent a letter to the union about his intention.

“Both Chief Larrabee and I have been monitoring the amount of hours that our officers have worked due to our previous and current staffing levels. Although we have been working tirelessly to increase those levels, we have been somewhat stifled by continued retirements, resignations and other DOJ related matters, that have created a significant amount of extra hours for the remaining dedicated men and women protecting our community. As the Union has expressed, the extra workload that our officers have had to maintain, certainly affects their quality of life and has been wearing on each of them and certainly not a preferable schedule for our department." Maturo said in a statement.

The union president previously told NBC Connecticut that the police officers are working 16-hour days and they would prefer more police officers to the overtime pay.

"Officers are enduring double shifts almost every day, and they're getting ordered in all the time, every week,"  Union President  Bob Nappe said.  "This hacks into their personal lives.  They can't conduct themselves in a way that they should.  They're tired."

Mayor Maturo issued a news release earlier this month saying that is not what the union said when he recently met with them.

Maturo said his administration has been monitoring the amount of police overtime that the town has had to pay over the last two years, both for financial ramifications on taxpayer and for the number of hours officers are working.

“This was discussed recently at a general meeting of Local 1662 of the Police Union which I attended. While Union President Nappe seems to be expressing that his members are overworked and desiring of less hours, it was not the sentiment that he expressed to me during that discussion,” Maturo said in a statement.

The mayor said he offered to consider hiring three or four “floating officers” to work available overtime shifts and added he’s been working on civilian dispatching, which  would release more officers for street duty and  cut down on overtime.

Mayor Maturo said he has sent a letter to the East Haven Police Union, Local 1662 informing them of his intention to hire qualified civilian dispatchers to replace uniform officers who now perform that responsibility at the police department.

He is also asking the union to waive a 180-day notice requirement so he would be able to effect this change as soon as possible.

“As has been stated previously, my administration, Chief Larrabee and the Board of Police Commissioners are continuing to look at every avenue to be able to bring our department up to acceptable staffing levels as quickly as humanly possible. We continue to thank the dedicated men and women of our department and will continue to provide them with the resources needed to achieve our stated goal of becoming one of the best Police Departments in the state," Maturo said.

Since 2011, five officers have been arrested, there have been eight retirements, one disability and five resignations, Maturo said.

“I am still proud of the men and women of our department who are protecting our citizens doing a fine job despite all of the problems within their department. I believe in the present direction of our department and applaud all our officers working tirelessly to make this the best police department in the state,” Maturo said.

Photo Credit: AP

Two on Leave As Cheating Probe Continues


Two officials at a Hartford elementary school are now on leave as the district continues to investigate a cheating scandal related to standardized tests.

The principal of the Betances Early Reading Lab, Immacula Didier, and the school's literacy coach, Linda Liss-Bronstein, were both placed on leave last week, according to Matthew Poland, the chairman of the city's Board of Education.

A letter from Dr. Christina Kishimoto, the district's superintendent, sent out last week alerted parents that an interim principal, Delores Cole, is now in place at the school. 

The letter states, "We took this necessary action to avoid any disruptions or distractions to your child's education at Betances, while the district investigates CMT testing irregularities that occurred last spring."

The moves come after a state investigation determined hundreds of answers on the school's standardized tests were erased and changed.  That investigation also found only three employees at the school had access to the exams, including the two now on leave.

The two will remain on leave until the district's investigation wraps up, according to Poland.  He said the city is planning to hire an outside investigator to determine what happened and who's responsible.

It's the second CMT cheating scandal in Connecticut in recent years.

The state is now in the process of transitioning to computerized testing, in part to make sure such a problem does not happen again. 

Some districts, including Hartford, will try the online testing system this spring, according to the state Department of Education. All districts will be required to use the computerized testing the following year, according to the state.


Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Pot Falls From the Sky in San Diego


Bundles of pot fell from the sky over San Diego, arriving in an airdrop from a plane that originated in Mexico, federal officials said Tuesday.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents seized more than 260 pounds of marijuana bundled and tied to a metal cage from a field near Brown Field Airport, less than two miles north of the U.S-Mexico border.

Agents said the marijuana was delivered to a drop location north of the airport around 4:15 a.m. Monday by an ultra-light aircraft.

The bundles of pot were tied to a cage that’s used to hold cargo in that type of aircraft, officials said.

When federal agents caught up with the illegal delivery, they took two people into custody. Ten bundles of marijuana with an estimated street value of $157,000 were seized, officials said.

Border Patrol's Office of Air and Marine (OAM) spotted and tracked the plane as it crossed the border and returned to Mexico without landing.

The suspects are a 32-year-old undocumented immigrant and a 49-year-old legal permanent resident.

Citizens can report suspicious air and marine activity and remain anonymous by calling (866) AIR-BUST (866-247-2878). 

Photo Credit: U.S. Customs and Border Protection

Hundreds of Leopard Sharks Spotted


Hundreds of leopard sharks swam alongside kayakers and paddleboard surfers off the California coast Tuesday.

NBC 7 news helicopter captured video of the interaction between humans and sharks.

The sharks, named after spots on their backs that resemble those of a leopard, are a common sight in La Jolla where the shallow waters are often calm and hold plenty of food.

Normally the sight of a shark in the water would be frightening to surfers or kayakers but not so with these creatures.

Leopard sharks pose no danger to humans unless provoked and can grow up to 6 feet when fully matured.

Experts at the Birch Aquarium with the Scripps Institution of Oceanography said it's not unusual to see leopard sharks off the coast in the fall and winter months. The only difference is there are fewer in number than in the summer.

Photo Credit: NBC 7 News
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