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Former Senator's Brother Pleads Guilty to Impersonating Officer


The brother of a former Massachusetts senator has pleaded guilty to impersonating a police officer in Connecticut and falsifying a military discharge certificate.

Bruce Brown, 47, of Wolcott, was arrested in August after commandeering a boat in Old Lyme, drawing a gun and handcuffing a minor in the victim’s home and lying on a pistol permit application about the conditions of his discharge from the U.S. Coast Guard, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

He has also gone by the names Bruce Browne, Spenser Brown, Spenser Browne, Agent Brice and Detective Brice, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said. Brown pleaded guilty in federal court Monday.

Authorities began investigating after an Old Lyme resident called police Aug. 8, 2013 to report seeing a man with a gun in town wearing military-style clothing. Earlier that day, Brown had identified himself as a U.S. Coast Guard officer and commandeered a boat, then stopped two other boats and a jet ski to ask the operators for their licenses, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.

Police searched Brown's blue 2004 Ford Crown Victoria and found a police badge, bulletproof vest, multiple sets of handcuffs, three handguns with loaded magazines and ammunition, a knife and a police baton, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Brown was subsequently arrested and charged with impersonating an officer.

After being released on bond, he threw four other law enforcement badges into the Chestnut Hill Reservoir in Wolcott, according to prosecutors. He later told authorities and a state police dive team recovered the badges Sept. 27, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.

In March, Brown went to the home of an acquaintance who thought he was a federal law enforcement officer. Brown allegedly told took the acquaintance’s underage sons up to their rooms, drew his gun and handcuffed one of the minors. According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Brown then brought them into the garage, pointed his gun and confiscated a backpack containing what appeared to be marijuana.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office said Brown was discharged from the U.S. Coast Guard “under other than honorable conditions” in 2002, but altered his discharge paperwork when applying for a pistol permit last February.

He pleaded guilty Monday to two counts of impersonating a federal law enforcement officer and one count of falsifying a military discharge certificate. Brown could serve up to seven years in prison and will be sentenced May 19.

The Department of Homeland Security Office of the Inspector General, Coast Guard Investigative Service, Connecticut State Police and local police from Wolcott, Bristol and Southington contributed to the investigation.

Photo Credit: State Police and NBCConnecticut.com

Community Leaders Raise Money to Buy Crown Market


Community leaders are raising money in an effort to save the Crown Market, a 74-year-old West Hartford landmark in danger of closing its doors for good due to economic challenges.

A fundraising initiative could save Crown Market, which is struggling to stand the test of time.

Community leaders Henry M. Zachs, Alan Lazowski and Brian Newman, among others, are working to raise money in hopes of buying the kosher market and renegotiating the lease, according to a news release from the Crown Market.

The market announced last Tuesday that it would be closing.

Owner Mark Bokoff, who bought the Crown in 2009, said tough economic conditions, increasing competition and “one of the worst winters on record in a decade” have dealt the Crown Market a serious blow.

Community members reacted immediately to the news, vowing to do everything in their power to keep the Crown alive.

“We felt like the only choice we had was to spring into action and figure out what we could do,” Rabbi Ilana Garber said last week.

“As evidenced by the almost 1,650 names on a change.org petition to keep the doors open, the market has been a part of the fabric of the West Hartford community and of the lives of multiple generations of families,” said representatives of the Crown in a release on Monday.

As of Tuesday morning, there are more than 1,700 signatures on the petition.

The new deal would allow for renovations and would create “new types of offerings” at the market, the release says. It would also put the market on “strong financial footing” and set it up for success in the years to come.

“We are blessed to have a community that cares so deeply about saving this precious asset, as well as saving valuable jobs,” Zachs said, in a statement. “We are honored to be part of this local community-wide effort, all working together toward the common goal of ensuring that the Crown Market, a fixture in West Hartford for nearly a century, can continue to thrive for future generations.”

The Crown was founded in 1940 and has been known as “The Good Food Store.”

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

State Police Trooper Charged With Drunken Driving


A state police trooper is facing drunken driving charges after crashing his police cruiser in Ashford last week, according to state police.

State police spokesman Lt. Paul Vance said 43-year-old David Lavoie crashed on Route 44 in Ashford shortly after midnight Wednesday. Lavoie’s police cruiser was heavily damaged and the trooper was injured.

He was treated Windham Hospital. After his release, Lavoie was charged with drunken driving and failure to maintain a lane, Vance said.

A sergeant responding to the crash took Lavoie’s handgun and other police equipment, according to state police.

Lavoie was released from custody after posting $500 bail and is due in court March 5.

State police are investigating the incident and have placed Lavoie on administrative duty, Vance said.

NJ Mayor Meets With Prosecutors


The mayor of the town where allies of Gov. Chris Christie created traffic jams last fall has met with federal prosecutors.
Tim Donohue, the lawyer for Fort Lee Mayor Mark Sokolich, confirmed the meeting in a statement issued Monday.
Donohue said Sokolich voluntarily met with members of the U.S. Attorney's Office in Newark on Friday to discuss the lane closures at the George Washington Bridge last September. But Donohue said neither he nor Sokolich would provide further comment on the meeting due to the ongoing criminal investigation.
Emails and text messages subpoenaed by a New Jersey legislative committee have revealed that an aide to Christie emailed a high-level Port Authority of New York and New Jersey official and told him, "Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee."

Photo Credit: AP

1990 Fla. Cold Case Murder Solved


A cold case murder has been solved after more than 23 years, Coral Springs Police announced Monday.

Retested DNA evidence identified Oba Chandler as the suspect in the November 1990 slaying of 20-year-old Ivelisse Berrios Beguerisse, police said. Chandler, 65, was executed in 2011 for three Florida murders from 1989.

Just after midnight on Nov. 27, 1990, two men returning from a fishing trip discovered Beguerisse’s lifeless body lying on the side of the street in a then-undeveloped part of Coral Springs.

"Our victim had ligature markings around her ankles and wrists," said Det. Dan Cucchi with the Coral Springs Police Department.

"[She] did nothing to deserve this. [She] was picked at random," said Det. Brian Koenig.

The Sunrise woman never made it home to her husband after finishing her shift at a Swim Sport store in the Sawgrass Mills mall. Her car was found in the parking lot of the mall. Two tires had been slashed.

"It was always suspected that the subject had lured her into a vehicle as a Good Samaritan and then later killed her," Cucchi said.

She had also been sexually assaulted. At the time DNA swabs were collected for the victim's rape kit but the crime lab could not find evidence to connect a suspect to the crime.

But now the case has been solved, thanks to advances in technology in the intervening years.

"It was matched to Mr. Oba Chandler," Cucchi said.

Chandler was executed via lethal injection in November 2011. He was sent to death row for the grisly murders of three tourists, Joan Rogers and her two teenaged daughters Michelle and Christie. They were found floating in Tampa Bay in 1989. The women were nude from the waist down. There were concrete blocks tied around their necks.

"They also were bound with rope and tossed overboard, it was believed while they were still alive," Cucchi said.

Before being put to death, Chandler's last statement was "you are killing an innocent man."

Chandler was looked at as a suspect after he was arrested in the Rogers murders because of proximity.

"He had spent a couple months living in Sunrise, Florida just about a mile and a half from the Sawgrass Mills mall, " Koenig said.

It was Koenig and Cucchi who decided to have the DNA tested once again after being assigned the cold case last summer. The Broward Sheriff’s Office Crime Lab notified the detectives on Feb. 5 that they were able to obtain a positive suspect DNA profile from the evidence submitted. After sharing the news with Beguerisse's family, they shared it with those who worked over two decades to find her killer.

"It was near to their heart for a long time and some of the investigators that worked it from the beginning, they have since retired from here," Koenig said.

Photo Credit: NBC 6 South Florida

Hamden Apartment Fire Injures 3, Displaces Dozens


Three people were taken to the hospital after a late-night fire at a Hamden apartment complex and 25 people were displaced.

Fire broke out around 11 p.m. at the Aspen Glen apartments, at 318 Aspen Glen Drive, a popular home for students at nearby Quinnipiac University.


The fire chief said the fire started in a first-floor apartment, then spread to the second and third floors.

Officials also said there was a partial roof collapse.

Icy conditions made it difficult to fight the fire, but the flames were under control in about an hour and no firefighters were injured.

No information was available on the condition of the victims or how the fire started.

Quinnipiac University tweeted overnight that students affected by the fire will be given a room on campus.

Property management is assisting other residents with housing.

The American Red Cross is also assisting.

Robber Offered Clerk Half the Cash


Connecticut police have arrested a Moosup man accused of robbing one Xtra-Mart and trying to rob another by offering the clerk half the cash in the register.

State troopers responded to a report of an attempted robbery at the Xtra-Mart at 439 Hartford Turnpike in Killingly at 8:25 p.m. on Monday and spoke with the clerk.

She told officers that the robber ordered her to empty the register and said he would give her half, according to a news release from police. Instead, she told the man to leave and threatened to set off the alarm.

It worked and the man left, heading south toward Railroad Avenue.

At 9:41 p.m., troopers received a report of a robbery at an Xtra-Mart five miles away, at 19 Putnam Road in Pomfret.

The robber had implied he had a gun and took money from the register, according to police.
The description of the man indicated he was the same person who attempted to rob the Killingly store, police said – 25 to 30 years old, wearing a tan Carhartt jacket and black winter hat.

Troopers started looking for the man in Pomfret and found someone matching the description on Woodstock Road.

Police identified Ernest Lamiotte, 27, of Potvin Street in Moosup, as the suspect through surveillance video from the Pomfret store. A State Police K9 was brought in and police recovered money stolen from the store.

Lamiotte was arrested, held on $10,000 for the attempted robbery charge in Killingly and $50,000 for the robbery charge in the Pomfret case.

He is due in court today.

According to court records, Lamiotte has a record of prior arrests. In 2013, he was convicted for engaging police in a pursuit, reckless driving and driving under the influence.

In 2008, he was convicted on a third-degree larceny charge as well as driving under the influence.

Second Suspect in West Haven Home Invasion Arrested


When two intruders broke into a home on Myrtle Avenue in West Haven in December, the residents fought back. They subdued one and stabbed another, according to police.

Police arrested one suspect in December. The residents overpowered Roderick Lewis, 25, of New Haven, disarmed him and subdued him until police arrived, police said.

The residents stabbed the other intruder several times, but he was able to run, police said.
Police have identified him as Daniel Schebell, 25, of Lombard Street in New Haven/

Police said he had fled the state and was arrested on Monday.

Schebell was charged with two probation violations and bond was set at $100,000.

Police said additional charges are coming in connection with the home invasion case.

Photo Credit: West Haven Police

Office Manager Accused of Embezzlement


The officer manager of a Milford tile company has been arrested, accused of stealing almost $30,000 from the business over the course of a year.

On Thursday, investigators from the Milford Police Department arrested Antonina Yovino, 56, of Cutlers Farm Road in Monroe on an outstanding warrant for her arrest.

Police had received a complaint from Yovino’s employer, The Bargain Tile & Stone Company, about missing funds after several suppliers complained about not being paid, police said.

According to authorities, Yovino is accused of taking $29,100 from the business from July 2013 to January 2014.

Investigators executed a search and seizure warrant on Thursday at Yovino’s home and found additional information about the investigation.

Police said Yovino was conducting business transactions involving her own business, NY Studio Stone LLC, and Bargain Tile & Stone.

Police ask anyone who has information or concerns about regarding Yovino’s activities to call Detective Robert Nash at (203) 783-4730, email rnash@ci.milford.ct.us or submit a tip online.

Photo Credit: Milford Police

Fire Damages House in Waterbury


Crews responded to 37 Giles Street in Waterbury and officials said there was heavy fire at the three-family house when firefighters arrived.

No injuries are reported, according to police.

Ice and snow posed problems for firefighters.

How many people have been displaced is not clear.

The address is not listed on the Waterbury assessor's Web site.

The cause of the fire is under investigation.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Driver Charged in Fatal Hit-and-Run Crash in New Haven


The driver implicated in a fatal hit-and-run crash that happened over the summer will be turned over to New Haven police today.

Jamario Williams, 31, of New Haven, was arrested Feb. 6 in West Virginia, eight months after police say his car struck and killed 27-year-old motorcyclist Christopher Ferguson.

Police said Ferguson was riding his motorcycle on Dixwell Avenue June 5 when Williams’ car pulled out in front of him and the two collided. Ferguson was killed in the crash.

Williams waived extradition on Feb. 19 was due to be turned over to New Haven police today.

He’s charged with negligent homicide and making an improper turn.

"Got Milk?" Is Out, "Milk Life" In


Say goodbye to the iconic slogan "Got Milk?" that sparked the series of humorous milk mustache commercials.

After two decades, the milk industry is replacing the catchphrase with the new tagline "Milk Life."

The new campaign is designed highlight the nutritional benefits of milk and to get consumers to rethink the drink, Milk Processor Education Program CEO Julia Kadison told Ad Age. MilkPEP is an industry marketing program funded by milk processors.

"A lot of people don't know that milk has protein, so it was very important to make that connection between milk and protein," Kadison says. In addition to focusing on protein, she says MilkPEP wants to make milk "relatable, relevant and meaningful to Americans." 

The "Got Milk?" line was created by the advertising agency Gooby, Silverstein & Partners and originated in 1993 as a rebranding initiative for the California Milk Processor Board.

In 1995, MilkPEP licensed the well-known slogan. The phrase rose to popularity in the campaign's ads, which featured about 300 celebrities such as Bill Clinton, Elton John, Steven Tyler and David Beckham.

The California processors, which are still partnered with Goodby, will continue the "Got Milk?" campaign in California.

MilkPEP's "Milk Life" slogan was designed by the advertising agency Lowe Campbell Ewald in hopes of not only conveying the power of protein after drinking milk, but also boosting milk sales. Per-capita fluid milk consumption has declined by 25 percent since 1975, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

MilkPEP plans to spend more than $50 million on the campaign, Ad Age reported.

The new tagline ads will be released today, featuring ordinary people and reflecting milk as a key ingredient to a healthy and active lifestyle.

Crash Victim's Mom Wants Harsher Penalty for 90-Year-Old Driver


A 90-year-old woman has been charged with negligent homicide in connection with the crash that killed a motorcycle driver in New Haven last September, and the victim's mother is enraged that the driver got off without a felony charge.

According to New Haven police, 90-year-old Nancy Cassella, of Bethany, was driving eastbound on Fountain Street/Route 243 when she turned onto Seneca Road, cutting off a motorcycle traveling in the opposite direction.

The motorcyclist, 34-year-old Brian McCarthy, of North Haven, was killed in the crash.

His mother, Terri McCarthy, said he was rushed to the Yale-New Haven Hospital emergency room, where he went into surgery and was stabilized. She thought her son would pull through, but doctors told her they couldn't stop the bleeding. Brian McCarthy died at the hospital.

"It's devastating," said Terri McCarthy. "It's beyond. You can't imagine the pain of losing your child. You can't even imagine it."

Cassella was arrested and charged with negligent homicide and making an improper turn, which Terri McCarthy said was far too lenient a punishment.

"I thought it was a felony," she said. "I mean, she killed my son with her motor vehicle. ... You took a father of three small children, my only child. And a misdemeanor – isn't that like a traffic ticket? Seriously?"

Terri McCarthy said Cassella should not have been behind the wheel that day.

"I know she's a 90-year-old woman. So you don't want her to go to jail because she's 90 years old," Terri McCarthy said. "Well, if she's too old to go to jail, she was too old to drive."

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Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Man to be Charged With DUI After Fatal Crash


Police are looking to arrest the man accused of driving under the influence during the crash that killed his backseat passenger in New Haven last month.

According to police, 43-year-old Dieter Delgado lost control of his BMW after exiting Interstate 91 onto State Street in New Haven just after 1 a.m. Jan. 10.

The car struck a utility pole, killing rear passenger Walter Ruiz, 36, of New Haven.

Police said Delgado was operating under the influence. He and his front-seat passenger, 39-year-old Patrick Ghyssels of Branford, were taken to Yale-New Haven Hospital for treatment of non-life threatening injuries. Ruiz was pronounced dead at the scene.

New Haven police have obtained an arrest warrant charging Delgado with second-degree manslaughter with a motor vehicle, second-degree assault with a motor vehicle, operating under the influence, failure to drive in the proper lane and driving with a suspended license.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Suffield Police Arrest Accused Snow Blower Thief


The Enfield man accused of stealing snow blowers and other equipment from Suffield homes was arrested on eight warrants today, according to Suffield police.

Police said 33-year-old Randy Krah, of Oak Avenue in Enfield, stole the equipment over a period of several months, from Sept. 2013 to Jan. 2014. Authorities believe he is responsible for additional thefts in the area.

He was arrested on eight warrants today and is charged with:

  • One count of third-degree burglary
  • Seven counts of third-degree criminal trespass
  • One count of fourth-degree larceny
  • Five counts of fifth-degree larceny
  • One count of criminal attempt at fifth-degree larceny
  • One count of sixth-degree larceny
  • One count of third-degree criminal mischief

Krah was held on bond and is due in court tomorrow.

Christian Rocker Admits Murder


The singer of the Grammy-nominated Christian metal band As I Lay Dying has pleaded guilty to his role in a murder-for-hire plot.

Tim Lambesis entered a guilty plea to one felony count of solicitation of murder in San Diego court Tuesday, admitting that he hired a hit man to kill his estranged wife.

As a result of a plea agreement, Lambesis could serve nine years according to a court clerk.

The Carlsbad resident was arrested in May 2013 on charges of solicitation of another to commit murder and conspiracy to commit a crime.

Prosecutors alleged that Lambesis approached a trainer from his gym and asked if the person knew anyone who could kill his wife, Meggan Lambesis of Del Mar.

"He wanted to know if maybe I could find someone to do it for him," personal trainer Brett Kimball testified at a pretrial hearing.

Lambesis provided the undercover agent with an envelope containing $1,000 cash for expenses, his wife’s address and gate codes, pictures of her and specific dates when he would have the children and thus, an alibi.

Lambesis explained he wanted his wife dead because she was going to get up to 60 percent of his income and would not allow their children – ages 4, 8, and 10 – to go on tour with him, the deputy testified.

Court documents reveal Meggan Lambesis had filed for divorce in September 2012 to end the couple’s 8-year marriage.

In the divorce records obtained by the Associated Press, Meggan Lambesis claims the rocker had become "obsessed with bodybuilding" and was distracted with the children, even falling asleep once while watching them.

She also claimed he has spent thousands of dollars on tattoos.

Lambesis is out on $3 million bail. Sentencing is scheduled for May 2.


Photo Credit: NBC 7 News

Man Stabbed at New Haven Home


Police are investigating after a man was stabbed at a home on Sherman Avenue in New Haven this afternoon, authorities said.

Police said the victim was stabbed at 104 Sherman Avenue around 3:30 p.m. Tuesday. He was taken to the hospital and is listed in stable condition.

No additional information was immediately available.

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Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Attacked For Wearing Google Glass?


A woman says she was taunted and robbed in San Francisco for wearing Google Glass.

The woman, Sarah Slocum, mentioned on Facebook that she was in a bar in the Haight-Ashbury neighborhood Friday night showing off the wearable computer accessory when someone took it from her face and ran, while another told her that she and her techie friends were "destroying the city," according to the San Francisco Chronicle. 

Slocum said she chased the assailant who she says took the Google Glass and retrieved it, but another person had taken her purse and cellphone.

The incident comes amid mounting tension between techies and other San Francisco residents who feel the tech workers are driving up costs without adding infrastructure or bettering neighborhoods.

While Slocum reportedly wasn't doing anything annoying or rude, Google has released a list of do's and don'ts for using Glass so users won't annoy people. None of them warn users to beware of class warfare.

Photo Credit: Getty Images

Koala Escapes Zoo Enclosure


A curious koala escaped its enclosure at the San Diego Zoo Tuesday, spurring a search and eventual stakeout by keepers, zoo officials confirmed.

According to Jenny Mehlow, public relations spokesperson for the San Diego Zoo, the koala – named "Mundu" – somehow made his way out of his habitat. When zookeepers noticed the koala was missing, a search ensued.

Mehlow said keepers eventually found the koala high above in a tree outside the exhibit.

Mehlow said the koala appeared to be in good condition. As of 1 p.m., zookeepers were maintaining a close eye on the animal and planned to wait until the zoo closed for the day to lure him down from the tree. The zoo was set to close at 5 p.m.

By 5:45 p.m., zoo officials said Mundu was back in his exhibit, safe and sound.

Mehlow said Mundu was born in 2012 and is just entering the curious phase of his young life.

Though the zoo’s koala exhibit features a live “Koala Cam,” the camera did not capture Mundu’s escape, Mehlow said.

Ted Molter, spokesperson for the San Diego Zoo, said Mundu may have grabbed a branch just outside the exhibit and quietly swung his way out.

“He was born in 2012 so he was just recently weaned from his mom and as a young male with spring time coming he's becoming very much aware of being a young male so that sent him into a little bit of exploration mode," Molter explained.

The koala exhibit, dubbed the Conrad Prebys Australian Outback, opened in May 2013 with 21 koalas. The exhibit spans three acres and is also home to other marsupial species including wallabies, wombats and short-beaked echidna.

The koala harem yards at the Conrad Prebys Australian Outback allow visitors to get close to the animals and watch the marsupials as they sunbathe, nap and eat while perched in the trees.

The San Diego Zoo has had a long-standing koala program and currently boasts the largest breeding colony of Queensland koalas outside of Australia.

This koala escape isn’t the first mishap involving a wayward animal at the San Diego Zoo or San Diego Zoo Safari Park.

In June 2013, the San Diego Zoo Safari Park asked for the public’s help to find a painted stork that got swept up in a wind gust and flew off zoo grounds.

In March 2013, two striped hyenas were able to get past one of the barriers inside their enclosure at the zoo, temporarily escaping. In that instance, the zoo was placed on lockdown until the hyenas were found by keepers.

Photo Credit: Ken Bohn/San Diego Zoo

Feud Between Malloy and Jindal Continues


One day after his White House dust-up with Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy is not backing down.

"He knew what he was doing," said Malloy, in an interview with NBC Connecticut on Tuesday. "He was trying to steal people's headlines and make a point."

Following a bipartisan governor's meeting Monday, Jindal came out of the White House and criticized some Democratic agenda items, including minimum wage.

"I think there are things we can do instead of waving the white flag of surrender instead of declaring this economy to be a minimum wage economy," said Jindal. "I think America can do better."

That's when a visibly agitated Malloy stepped in.

"Let's be clear that there are differences here, but you just heard what is probably the most partisan statement that we've heard all weekend," said Malloy.

The feud has gained national attention.

Malloy appeared on MSNBC's Morning Joe and Hardball Tuesday.

The fight over the minimum wage even spilled over to Twitter on Tuesday, with both men taking shots.

In an interview with NBC Connecticut, Malloy made a jab at Jindal's national aspirations.

"Oh no, no, he wasn't trying to position himself as the darling of the far right... and I'm being facetious," Malloy said sarcastically.

Malloy benefits from the national spotlight as well, as he faces a competitive re-election fight.

Central Connecticut State University Political Science Professor Jerold Duquette said that nationalizing the Connecticut governor's race only serves to benefit Malloy.

"He wants the national narrative to dominate the governor's race because it allows him to rise above the criticisms that his opponents are able to lodge against him," said Duquette.

Photo Credit: Getty Images
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