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Liquor Store Robbery Suspect Appears in Court


A Bristol man accused of robbing and brutally attacking a 50-year-old man at a liquor store on Tuesday night was arraigned in Bristol Superior Court on Wednesday.

Police arrested Kevin Whittingham, 22, of Bristol, in connection to the crime and a judge increased his bond to $75,000.

The victim, Kevin Masciotra, had asked two men who were being rowdy to quiet down at K&S Liquors on Park Street, according to police. The men started arguing with him and followed him to his car when he left the store. 

Masciotra was getting into his car, one of the men closed the door on his arm. The men then punched him and he fell to the ground, hitting his head and losing consciousness, police said.

When he regained consciousness, he was covered in blood and his wallet was missing, according to police. 

"They hit him with something. It must have been a bottle or a crowbar," said Masciotra's daughter, Alyssa. "The whole left side of his face was puffy. He was bleeding."

She rushed to the scene after Kevin Masciotra called and told her he had been attacked.

Police said Kevin Masciotra had broken facial bones. He was taken Bristol Hospital and transferred to Saint Francis Hospital in Hartford.

Alyssa Masciotra said her father is still in the hospital and will need surgery.

As police were conducting an unrelated investigation on Laurel Street, they recognized one of the suspects from the victim’s description and arrested Whittingham. They're still looking for his accomplice.

He told police that he knows the the store owner and was there with another friend when Masciotra entered the store and was being rude.

He said he told Masciotra to stop acting that way, bought a bottle of alcohol and left the store, but his friend stayed behind.

Whittingham denied hitting Masciotra at the liquor store or taking his belongings, according to police.

He told police he found the credit cards on the ground at Park and Divinity streets, picked them up and kept walking until officers stopped him, police said. The credit cards police found on Whittingham belonged to the victim and his mother.

Whititngham was charged with second-degree robbery, second-degree larceny, third-degree assault and conspiracy to commit on all three of the charges.

He's due back in court Aug. 28.

Police are investigating and ask anyone with information to call the Bristol Police Department at 860-584-3011.

Photo Credit: Bristol Police

Geico Insurance Banner Falls on Bay Area House


One Bay Area couple can now say for certain their house is covered by insurance.

A 4,000-square-foot Geico insurance banner being towed by a plane came loose and fell directly on their house Friday in Fremont.

"I heard a thump," says Sarah Clark, who was inside when banner landed on her home. "When I looked out the front gate I thought it was pouring rain because it kind of made it look that way. And it sounded like a windstorm, or maybe rain, but I knew it wasn't raining."

When Clark looked out her back door that's when she saw the massive sign.

"I saw a gigantic piece of fabric over the gazebo and I was thinking it's a parachute or hot air balloon," Clark says. 

Ameer Hassan was driving on Interstate 880 just a few miles away when he saw the sign fall.

"I saw the banner flying sideways and I've never seen anything like that before," Hassan says. "I didn't know if it was heavy enough to destroy anything."

The pilot of the plane says he was trying out a new rope that failed to hold the sign. The FAA is investigating the incident.

Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area

Police Arrest Suspected Heroin Dealer


Police searched a Sullivan Drive home in the Central Village section of Plainfield on Tuesday and arrested a resident there after finding heroin packaged for sale, police said.

Officers seized 19 grams of heroin that Seth S. Scaplen, 25, had packaged to be sold when police were conducting a narcotics search of his 6 Sullivan Drive home, police said.

After executing the search and seizure warrant, police charged Scaplen with possession of heroin and possession of heroin with intent to sell.

Jordan Star-Barker, 20, was at Scaplen's home at the time of the search and police arrested her too because she was wanted on a failure to appear charge connected to a case involving first-degree robbery, second-degree assault and home invasion charges, police said. Police did not release information on the home invasion case related to Star-Barker's previous charges.

Police set Scaplen's bond at $20,000 and he is scheduled to appear at Danielson Superior Court on Aug. 4. The court set Star-Barker's bond at $500,000 and she is scheduled to appear at Danielson Superior Court.

Plainfield police encourage residents to report "suspicious and/or narcotic activity" to the department's anonymous tip line at 860-564-0765 or to officers to aid the town's effort to reduce illegal narcotics activity in Plainfield.

Photo Credit: Plainfield Police Department

Nearly 200 Train to Become National Guards Officers


The mornings start early at Camp Niantic, where 180 candidates from 17 different states are training and hoping to become officers in the National Guard.

Before the sun comes up, they are up doing sit-ups and pull-ups in a program that is 14 months long. The first two weeks are spent completing rigorous tasks at Camp Niantic, and after that, they spend weekends training in their home states.

“They’ve probably been about the most challenging two weeks of my life,” Mykel Kuslis, a candidate from Milford, said.

The training is tough physically and mentally. On some days, candidates spend up to 14 hours in a classroom.

“They cover army history, army training, army leadership, and other things an officer needs to know,” David Lord, a training officer at the Officer Candidate School said.

The learning goes hand in hand with the physical training. During one drill, called lines of knowledge, candidates are asked to answer a question while doing pull-ups. If they get the question wrong, they have to do even more physical training.

And this is only a small part of the officer candidate school. The training includes land navigation, squad and platoon tactics.

It is a journey that is over a year long, and one candidates say is worth it to be able to one day call themselves officers in the National Guard.


Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Man Pleads Guilty in Connection With Murder-for-Hire Plot


A New London man has pleaded guilty in connection with a 2012 homicide that federal officials describe as a murder-for-hire plot to take over a drug operation.

According to the U.S. Department of Justice, the attack and homicide of Javier Reyes, 36, was connected to a "Green Garages" operation in which marijuana, cocaine and other narcotics were distributed from a series of garage bays as 12/14 Walker Street in New London.

Officials said former members of the enterprise were attempting to take over the drug operation and Jose Rosado, Jr. and others were paid to attack Reyes, 36.

On the night of Sept. 12, 2012, Reyes was found outside his apartment at 187 Huntington St. He'd been stabbed several times, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.

He was transported to a local hospital, then flown by helicopter to Yale-New Haven Hospital, where he succumbed to injuries.

Video surveillance taken at the time of the attack shows Rosado carrying a bat and another individual creeping toward Reyes, then running away from him about 15 seconds later, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.

Reyes has been in police custody since he was arrested in January. He pleaded guilty on Tuesday.

Fire at Super 8 Motel in Cromwell


Firefighters from Cromwell and Berlin have responded to a fire at the Super 8 Motel at 1 Industrial Park Road in Cromwell.

A truck driver who is staying at the motel said guests were evacuated after an electrical fire in a bathroom on the third floor, but officials have not confirmed that.

No additional information was immediately available.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Suspicious Fires Destroy Avon Little League Equipment


Police and fire officials are investigating suspicious fires that destroyed a shed full of Little League equipment at Avon's Sperry Park early Wednesday morning.

Avon police called officials from the Avon Little League around 3:30 a.m. on Wednesday to tell them that a shed on their field had been destroyed, Little League officials said.

Police are now calling the fires suspicious and said at least one person was seen leaving the area when the flames broke out.

Authorities believe the person traveled from Fischer Drive to Ensign Drive, BIckford Drive and ended up on Climax Road.

Police said a resident called to report fire coming from the park around 3:15 a.m. and authorities arrived to find the shed engulfed in flames.

The building was originally used as a snack shack, but is now mostly used for storage and contains a freezer unit, merchandise and equipment, including pitching machines. The value of the equipment is worth is unknown.

According to police, a second fire was burning in the grass near a concession stand. The stand also sustained damage in the blaze.

It took firefighters about 15 minutes to put out the fires because a live power line was down.

The cause of the fire is under investigation, but the Avon Fire Marshal said there has been vandalism in the area and police are trying to determine if this is connected to the fire.

The Avon Little League is a non-profit organization, so they need to figure out what they are going to do about replacing what was lost.

Anyone with information about the fires should call Avon police at 860-409-4200.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Man Charged After Gun Found During Search at House Office Building


Just days after a congressional staffer was arrested for allegedly bringing a gun into the Cannon House Office Building, a second man has been arrested for the same offense, police said.

U.S. Capitol Police told News4 that officers discovered a 9mm Ruger handgun during an administrative search at the entrance to Cannon's rotunda. It happened around 9:20 a.m. Wednesday.

Ronald William Prestage has been charged with carrying a pistol without a license, said police spokesperson Shennell Antrobus. 

Prestage is not a congressional staffer. RollCall.com reported that he is a veterinarian and farm operator who is also president-elect of the National Pork Producers Council. He may have been on Capitol Hill to lobby on agriculture issues, the site reportedm.

He has a concealed carry permit in South Carolina, according to records, reported RollCall.com.

Prestage's arrest came five days after Ryan Shucard, the press secretary for Rep. Tom Marino of Pennsylvania, was taken into custody and charged with carrying a pistol without a license, a felony.

"It was a total accident," Shucard told News4's Darcy Spencer Friday afternoon.

Earlier this week, he pleaded not guilty to the charge.

Bill Tighe, the congressman's chief of staff, said Shucard has been placed on unpaid leave.

Photo Credit: Inset: Hannah Hess/CQ Roll Call; background: News4

2 Charged in Hartford Shooting That Left Victim Critical


Two men are facing charges in connection with a shooting in Hartford last month that left a 25-year-old man in critical condition.

According to police, Jonathan Weaver was riding in a car stopped at the intersection of Albany Avenue and Oakland Terrace the evening of June 14 when a man identified as 28-year-old James Dudley, of East Hartford, walked up to the car and shot him.

Weaver drove into the intersection, struck a Volkswagen Beetle, then continued to Saint Francis Hospital. He was listed in critical condition and underwent emergency surgery, police said.

Police obtained arrest warrants for Dudley and his alleged driver and accomplice, 23-year-old Tyvonne Gooden, of Manchester, on Monday. Both are convicted felons who had been previously arrested in Hartford. Dudley was already in federal custody on unrelated charges, police said.

Dudley is charged with first-degree assault, carrying a pistol without a permit, criminal use and possession of a firearm and first-degree reckless endangerment.

Gooden was arrested Wednesday on Garden Street and is charged with conspiracy to commit first-degree assault and criminal liability for first-degree assault.

Police said Weaver survived the shooting and is recovering from his injuries.

Photo Credit: Hartford Police Department

Flying Tire Kills Driver on Highway


A woman traveling northbound on the Bishop Ford Freeway was killed Wednesday morning when she was struck by a tire that came off a vehicle headed in the opposite direction, a spokesperson with the Illinois State Police told NBC Chicago.

First responders had to free Jovanka Mijatov, 64, who was pinned in her white 2011 Nissan Versa by "debris" after the 6:10 a.m. crash, Illinois State Police Trooper David Roman said.

Mijatov, of Schererville, Indiana, was taken by ambulance to Advocate Christ Medical Center in Oak Lawn, where she was pronounced dead.

Nearby, a green 1997 Chevrolet Blazer driven by 48-year-old Mariana Blanco, of Hammond, Indiana, was pulled over to the side of the southbound lane without a left rear tire.

Blanco faces three citations: driving without valid insurance, driving without valid registration and driving with unsafe tires.

Traffic on the freeway was backed up for nearly 10 miles, to Interstate 80. Commuters got by the accident scene using just one lane until about 9 a.m.

Man Stole Elderly Woman's Purse, Used Charge Cards


Police are searching for the man who stole an 80-year-old woman's purse inside a Waterford supermarket Wednesday morning, then tried to use her charge cards at a nearby bank.

According to police, a man approached the elderly woman while she was getting a cart inside the Stop & Shop supermarket on Straits Turnpike around 10 a.m. Wednesday.

He grabbed her purse, knocking her to the ground, and drove off in a newer-model black Nissan Altima or Maxima, police said. The purse contained money, personal documents and charge cards.

Police said a bank located at Chase Avenue and Thomaston Avenue in Waterbury contacted them 15 minutes later to report that the women's cards had been used in several locations until they were declined.

Officers searched the area of the declined transaction and found the woman's purse, which had been hidden, police said.

The suspect also tried to use the woman's checks at the Stop & Shop store on Reidville Drive in Waterbury, according to police.

Police are still searching for the suspect and getaway car. The victim was shaken up but not injured.

He's described as a white man with a brown goatee. Police believe he's 25-35 years old and said he was wearing a Detroit Tigers baseball cap marked with the letter "D."

He was wearing a black T-shirt with flames and a design printed on the front, along with blue-and-white plaid shorts and sneakers, police said.

Anyone with information on the robbery is urged to call Watertown police at 860-945-5200 or Crimestoppers at 860-945-9940. Calls will remain confidential.

Photo Credit: Watertown Police Department

New Canaan Public Works Employee Struck By Car


A New Canaan Public Works employee suffered serious injuries when he was struck by a car while spray painting the intersection of New Norwalk Road and East Avenue on Wednesday morning, according to police.

The employee has been identified as 71-year-old Benjamin Olmstead, of Norwalk. Police said the car that hit him was driving northbound on New Norwalk Road and turning left onto East Avenue.

According to police, the driver stopped and stayed at the scene. Olmstead was taken to Norwalk Hospital for treatment. His condition is unknown.

An accident reconstruction team comprised of New Canaan and Wilton officers is investigating.

Testimony Ends in Sterling Trial


Testimony ended Wednesday in the trial to determine whether Donald Sterling's estranged wife can sell the Los Angeles Clippers in a proposed $2 billion deal with former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer.

Shelly Sterling, who had testified early in the trial, was expected to be the final witness, but her husband's lawyers decided not to call her back to the stand.

Instead, they called Dr. Jeffrey Cummings to discuss the protocol of examinations such as the ones given to Donald Sterling to determine his mental competency and ability to act as owner.

Most of his testimony drew objections from Shelly Sterling's attorneys, and the judge said he didn't see how it would help him reach a decision.

"It's exasperating because he should see that the reports of these people are based upon examinations conducted in circumstances which Dr. Cummings said he's never seen before," Donald Sterling's attorney Max Blecher said outside of court.

"The incompetency is just a ploy, a ruse, a distraction so they can get rid of Donald Sterling who didn't want to sell the team," Blecher said.

Shelly Sterling's attorneys rested their case Tuesday and finished with testimony that the Clippers face oblivion if the team's censured owner keeps control of the franchise.

Clippers Interim CEO Richard Parsons testified on Tuesday that coach Doc Rivers said he will leave if Donald Sterling stays, as well as players and sponsors.

Parsons said he fears there would also be an exodus of key players, including team captain Chris Paul, who also is black and heads the NBA players union.

Parsons was about to give an account of his conversations with Paul but was stopped by an objection by an NBA lawyer who said it would be an invasion of privacy. The judge upheld the objection.

The trial will not be in session for the rest of the week. The two sides are scheduled to return for closing arguments on Monday.

The trial was full of emotion and drama, especially for a probate-court trial to determine technical legal and financial questions.

Most of the fireworks came from Donald Sterling, who shouted at attorneys for both sides, denounced the NBA and its commissioner for trying to oust him from the league over racist recordings, and at one point called Shelly Sterling a "pig" as she left the witness stand.

Donald Sterling also filed a new lawsuit against on Tuesday his wife, the NBA and league Commissioner Adam Silver that alleges fraud, breach of contract, unfair business practices and infliction of emotional distress. He claimed, among other things, that he was tricked into being examined by psychiatrists to establish whether he was mentally competent.

Patrick Healy contributed to this report.

Photo Credit: AP Images

Police Seek Suspect Who Robbed Elderly Woman: Cops


Police ask for the public's help in identifying a suspect who robbed an elderly woman at Stop & Shop in Watertown, police said on Twitter.

Watertown police tweeted a photograph of the suspect on Wednesday afternoon.

Police also tweeted a picture of the suspected vehicle used in the robbery.

More information will be provided when it becomes available.

Photo Credit: Watertown Police Department Twitter Account

Babies Get Herpes After Ritual: DOH


Two more infants were diagnosed with herpes in New York this month after undergoing ritual Jewish circumcisions, the Health Department says.

In both cases, the infant boys were born to mothers with full-term pregnancies and normal deliveries. They were circumcised using the direct oral suction technique practiced by some Orthodox Jews eight days after their birth, and developed lesions on their genitals shortly thereafter, the Health Department said.

Their conditions Wednesday weren't immediately clear.

NYC to Require Consent for Oral Suction Ritual

There have been 16 confirmed cases of herpes since 2000 in newborn boys after circumcisions that likely involved direct oral suction, including three in 2014, according to the Health Department. 

Two of the infants died and at least two others suffered brain damage.

During the ancient ritual, the person performing the circumcision attempts to cleanse the wound by sucking blood from the cut and spitting it aside. Authorities say the saliva contact could give the infant herpes, which is harmless in adults but could kill newborns.

In 2012, the Board of Health voted unanimously to require anyone performing circumcisions that involve oral suction to obtain written consent from a parent or guardian. The consent form delineates the potential health risks outlined by the Health Department. 

A group of Orthodox rabbis sued in an attempt to block the regulation, but a judge sided with the city.

The parents have to sign a form acknowledging that the city Health Department advises against the practice because of risks of herpes and other infections.

LA Ex-Councilman Convicted of Fraud


Former Los Angeles City Councilman Richard Alarcon was convicted Wednesday on some of the voter fraud and perjury counts against him in a trial stemming from accusations that he lied about where he lived so he could qualify for public office.

Alarcon was convicted on four of 16 felony counts against him for living outside a district he was elected to represent. The jury cleared him on the other counts. His wife, Flora Montes de Oca Alarcon, was convicted of three counts, and acquitted on three others.

Alarcon, 60, faced seven counts of fraudulent voting, six counts of perjury by declaration and three counts of perjury in an application for a drivers license. His wife was charged with six felony counts: three counts each of perjury by declaration and fraudulent voting in elections in 2007, 2008 and 2009.

Sentencing is scheduled for Sept. 10. Richard Alarcon faces up to six years in state prison and would be barred from holding elected public office. Flora Montes de Oca Alarcon faces up to five years and four months in state prison and would be barred from running for public office.

The panel was asked to decide whether the couple lied about where they lived between 2006 and 2009 so that Richard Alarcon could qualify for public office in Los Angeles' 7th Council District.

Outside of court Wednesday, Alarcon said he had no comment, but added, "I know I'm innocent."

Deliberations in the month-long trial began last week after prosecutors argued that the Panorama City house that Alarcon and his wife claimed as their "domicile" appeared to neighbors, utility employees and mail carriers to be vacant. Prosecutors contended the Alarcons really lived outside the 7th Council District in Sun Valley.

Under state election law, a residence for voting purposes is defined as a permanent home where one intends to remain and return after an absence. The law does not detail how much time must be spent at the address for it to qualify as a "domicile."

The defense claimed that the prosecution had not even come close to proving the charges against the two. Defense attorneys argued that the Panorama City house underwent renovations and remained the couple's permanent residence because they planned to return there after construction.

Photo Credit: KNBC-TV

Grandmother Left Child Alone in Car: Police


A Stratford grandmother was charged with leaving her grandchild alone in a car on Wednesday.

A passerby noticed the 3-year-old child alone and in its car seat in the back of a car in the parking lot at 444 Ferry Boulevard around 2:30 p.m.

The car's windows were closed, the doors were unlocked, and the car was not running, according to police. Officers said the air conditioner was running, even though the engine was not on.

Rosanna Sinatra, 59, came out of a store and told police she was inside for about five minutes. She told the officers she didn't want to disturb the toddler because the child was sleeping, according to police.

The toddler was not injured, police said.

Sinatra was issued a misdemeanor summons charging her with leaving a child under 12 unsupervised in a motor vehicle.

She is scheduled to appear in court on July 29.

New Fire Chief, Recruits for New Haven


With the formal oath of office, New Haven welcomed its newest leader, Fire Chief Allyn Wright.

Wright has been on the job for a few months now, and one of his main goals is to increase manpower at the department.

He got started on Wednesday with 45 recruits who attended the first day of the fire academy.

“We have a lot of vacancies, and what we basically want to do is minimize the overtime. Chief Egan along with myself, have been working very diligently to get this done,” said Wright.

The fire department currently has about 120 slots to fill. The new class of recruits will cover about a third of those vacancies, and Wright says another class will start in the fall.

“We're just going to make a small dent right now,” said Wright.

As for the recruits, they have about 15 weeks of training ahead of them, and they're excited about it.

“The good parts, and even the stressful parts, that's how you learn, and that's how you become better, and just interact with other people, help each other, and just learn,” said recruit Yaniris Cardona.

They all come from different backgrounds and professions, but all 45 have a desire to be a big part of the New Haven Fire Department.

“My uncle was a fireman for the New Haven Fire Department, retired about three to four years ago, so it's definitely an honor to here. It's been a long process, so I'm just really just happy to be here,” said Harry Bosley, another recruit.

“I love the city of New Haven," said recruit Daniel Del Prete. "I have four young children. I'm expecting my fifth, and would love nothing more than to work and help in the city that I love, and that I'm raising my family in.”

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

State Police Arrest Suspects in Killingly Home Burglary


State police have arrested two men in connection with the theft of more than $100,000 of collectible items from a home in Killingly in January.

Hector Camacho, 29, of Danielson and John Gee, 50, of Woodstock, were charged this week with first-degree larceny by possession.

The arrests come after police Rhode Island and Massachusetts helped recover the stolen property. It’s now in the custody of Connecticut State Police Troop D in Danielson, according to state police.

Police said the investigation is ongoing.

Photo Credit: NBC10.com

Waterbury Condos in Disrepair, Authorities Intervene


"For rent" and "for auction" signs outside Bradley Gardens condominiums in Waterbury reveal all is not well in the complex.

Inside some of the apartments and condos, residents report mold and damaged walls, a day after city government officials went into the Bradley Avenue condo complex to document evidence of neglect.

Ashfaq Butt led a tour of several buildings, pointing out missing emergency lights and gaping holes in the ceilings in common areas.

In one apartment, he showed not just missing ceiling panels but a disconnected toilet. The owner is living with his son in New York, trying to get his condo fixed.

The owner of GW Property Maintenance, was not available for comment when NBC Connecticut called the property management company Wednesday.

"They've been collecting a lot of money every month," said Dee Vigant, a resident of Bradley Gardens for 26 years, "and they've done nothing for us for the past two-and-a-half years."

She said that's how long a vine has been growing up the side of one of the buildings, a vine stretching from the ground to the roof.

On closer inspection, it's a lush case of poison ivy.

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