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$18M Seized From Pharmacy Owners


Feds have seized more than $18 million from the accounts of owners of a Massachusetts compounding pharmacy tied to a deadly, nationwide fungal meningitis outbreak.

U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz announced the seizure on Tuesday, saying the money was taken from the accounts of Barry Cadden and Carla and Douglas Conigliaro.

Authorities say they've taken about $1.5 million from Cadden, a shareholder and former head pharmacist of New England Compounding Center who was among the 14 indicted in connection to the 2012 outbreak that killed 64 people and sickened dozens of others. He's been charged with 25 counts of second-degree murder along with mail fraud and conspiracy.

About $16.8 million has been frozen in accounts held by or connected to Carla Conigliaro, 51, of Dedham, Massachusetts, who is the majority sharehold of the compounding pharmacy, and her husband Douglas.

Both of them were among the 14 people indicted in December, and are charged with transferring assets after allegedly transferring millions after the outbreak, shortly before the pharmacy's petition for bankruptcy and after a bankruptcy court issued orders prohibiting it. 

Photo Credit: NECN

Border Drones Ineffective: Report


A costly drone program along the Southwest border may not be paying off, a new report from the Department of Homeland Security Office of the Inspector General said.

The program spans eight years and has cost taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars, yet the report found it has yet to prove its value. Inspector General John Roth concluded that with these findings, the $443 million funding the program would be best moved elsewhere.

"Notwithstanding the significant investment, we see no evidence that the drones contribute to a more secure border, and there is no reason to invest additional taxpayer funds at this time," Roth said.

In the report, the OIG found that the average hourly cost of operating a drone was $12,255, a significant jump from the U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s Office of Air and Marine’s original estimated cost of $2,468 per hour.

Total flight time of the drones fell short of the OAM’s 16 hours per day goal every single day of the Fiscal Year 2013 the report analyzed. In fact, due to weather, the drones were only airborne for 22 percent of the goal hours, the report found.

The report also found that the costly program was credited with helping in less than two percent of CBP apprehensions of people illegally crossing the border.

The program was originally thought to run throughout the entire Southwest border on a nearly 2,000 mile stretch from Texas to California, the CBP said. The IG report said actual deployment of drones was limited to a 100-mile stretch in Arizona and a 70-mile segment in Texas, a much shorter area than originally thought.

NJ Friends Found Hanged Days Apart


Two friends' deaths just days apart have left a small South Jersey community and the teens' high school in mourning as a new year gets underway.

Ado Halkic, a 15-year-old student at Burlington Township High School, was found hanged in his bedroom inside his family's home on Jan. 1, a short time after he asked his dad to order him chicken wings, his father Adam Halkic told NBC10's Cydney Long.

Four days later, his good friend and fellow Burlington Township HS student, Mike Steve, 18, was also found hanged inside his Burlington City home -- a home he and his family had recently moved to, according Halkic.

Despite their age and grade differences -- Halkic was a freshman and Steve a senior -- the two were longtime friends who trained together at the JBM Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Academy in Edgewater Park for about eight years, said Halkic.

"It has been shocking news for us that two of our students, one who was 15 and another who was 18, have committed suicide," JBM Gym Director Victor Lopez said in an email to NBC10. "Both of them were a part of our Jiu Jitsu Academy that we treated as extended family..."

The high school released a statement regarding the boys' deaths. Read the full statement here,

"Needless to say, the past few days have been painful for our entire community. Our thoughts and prayers go out to all those who have been touched by the sudden death of two of our high school students," the school said. "It is in times like these that we need to come together as a community to support each other."

Both the high school and the jiu jitsu academy held events Tuesday night to offer guidance and support on how to cope with losing a child.

What prompted the boys' deaths is unclear at this time. 

SUICIDE PREVENTION: If you know someone who needs help, you can contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline by calling 1-800-273-TALK (8255).


New Haven Unveils 9 New Snow Plows


Nine new plow trucks have been introduced in New Haven as part of the city's new snow plan, which has been in place since the fall.

“These heavy duty machines will patrol the city's major arteries as conditions warrant," explained New Haven Mayor Toni Harp. "These reinforcements will free up smaller trucks for the city's smaller neighborhood streets.”

They're equipped with state-of-the-art technology to make public works crews more efficient clearing snow from city roads and to save the city resources.

“We're going to be more efficient on what we do throughout the city and the placing of material. We're not going to be wasting material. We have the assistance of computerized programs in these new vehicles,” said New Haven's Chief of Operations Jeff Pescosolido.

The city is prepared to use these new trucks as soon as snow accumulates.

Right now, the focus is on the cold weather. Warming centers have opened at the city's libraries, and patrolling police officers will be on the lookout for anyone who needs a warm place to stay.

“This is the beginning of the winter. We feel that we're equipped, and if things change, and we need to increase capacity, we'll do what we can to make sure all of our residents are, in fact, safe,” explained Deputy Emergency Management Director Rick Fontana.

New Haven’s shelters will also have extra beds available in case more people need to spend the night out of the cold.

Homeless Man Found Baby in Dumpster


The homeless man who found the body of a missing 3-week-old girl as he picked through a dumpster south of San Diego was "mad as hell" that anybody would hurt a newborn, he told NBC 7.

Harold Sherman found Eliza Delacruz dead in a bag of trash behind an Imperial Beach shopping center Sunday, a day after the baby's parents and uncle were shot and wounded in their Long Beach home.

"It hit me: That's a baby — that's a baby, man," Sherman, better known in the neighborhood as Freddy, told NBC 7 of the moment he realized what he had found. "My conscience wouldn't let her go."

"I wanted to cry, and then I got angry. I was mad — mad as hell, bro," he said.

Police are asking for the public to help find Eliza's killer and have offered a $25,000 reward for information on who left her in the dumpster.

"I'm still freaked out by what happened. I could not let that be the child’s last resting place,” Sherman said.

Sherman regularly picks through dumpsters for cans, and the dumpster where he found the newborn, behind Giant Pizza King at Palm Avenue and Rainbow Drive, is on his regular route.

On Sunday, as he ripped trash bags open to scan for cans, he found what looked like a baby doll. But when he touched the baby, her skin was ice cold.

It was then Sherman realized he had found a dead baby. 

Sherman said he had to get out of the dumpster and sit down for a minute to take it all in and to try and understand how anyone could throw away a baby.

At first, he was afraid to tell anyone about the baby, because there is a steep fine for canning in dumpsters — but he decided against keeping quiet, because it was the right thing to do.

Sherman's good friend Marrianne, weakened by a stroke, called him a "kind soul" and said he still comes to her home to help around her house.

“He tries to keep up some of the plumbing and things like that for me," Marrianne said.

"A flush of emotion came over me," Sherman said. "I got my cart and my bike, and I came over to the next dumpster and sat down and it just — it hit me. That’s a baby. That’s a baby, man, and what's a baby doing there, you know? How could that happen? How would anybody just do that?"

Police say the baby was taken from her Long Beach apartment Saturday. Investigators are trying to track down the man they say shot her parents and uncle, then grabbed Eliza.

How she ended up in the seacoast neighborhood of Imperial Beach is still a mystery. Well-wishers have been stopping by a growing memorial to bring by flowers as they mourn the child.

“Sickening, just sickening and to think that this happened in our neighborhood, it's horrible,” resident Thea Draude said.

But the discovery of Eliza’s body is a lead for detectives working around the clock to find her kidnapper, and perhaps much more.

“God bless him — for not only the baby but for the parents, at least they don't have to stay wondering,” IB resident Michelle Nunez said.

Detectives are hoping to find more clues on security video to lead them to who might have taken her.

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Guilty Plea in Navy Bribery Scandal


A senior U.S. Navy official pleaded guilty Tuesday to his involvement in a widespread bribery ring in which classified information on ship movement was traded for cash, prostitutes and luxury travel.

U.S. Navy Commander Jose Luis Sanchez, 42, admitted to bribery and conspiracy to commit bribery in a plea deal.

From 2009 to 2013, Sanchez accepted prostitutes, luxury travel, entertainment  and $100,000 cash from Malaysian contractor Leonard Francis, known in military circles as "Fat Leonard," the plea agreement says. In exchange, Sanchez gave Francis, the CEO of Glenn Defense Marine Asia (GDMA), classified Navy ship schedules and other proprietary, internal information.

According to the plea deal, Sanchez would forward internal emails to Francis when they mentioned competitors or investigations into overbillings by GDMA, which coordinated and scheduled goods and services for Navy ships coming into port.

In one example, an email chain from 2011 shows Francis asking Sanchez to "swing" a Navy fuel purchasing decision "our way," the plea deal says. Sancez's response: "ask and you shall receive... we worked this out this morning." That same month, a Navy ship purchased fuel from GDMA during a Thailand port visit.

In May 2012, Francis paid for Sanchez's five-night stay at the Shangri-La, a luxury hotel in Singapore, the plea agreement states. Two months later, Francis footed the bill for Sanchez's travel from Asia to the U.S. --  a cost of over $7,500.

Investigators estimate Sanchez received items worth at least $30,000 — but no more than $120,000 — from his relationship with Francis and GDMA. Prosecutors claim Francis overcharged the Navy for more than $20 million in services.

Francis has denied wrongdoing in the case. He's in federal custody awaiting trial.

Sanchez was arrested in November 2013, one of seven defendants in the investigation and the highest-ranking official to accept a plea agreement. He will be sentenced on March 27.

U.S. Navy Petty Officer First Class Dan Layug admitted to accepting $10,000 in cash, travel and a "bucket list" of video games and gadgets from a foreign defense contractor in exchange for providing classified information.  

Edmond A. Aruffo, retired Lt. Commander, pleaded guilty to a conspiracy charge. He was Operations Officer on USS Blue Ridge. The 20-year military veteran said he used kickbacks from GDMA to take Navy officials on lavish dinners.

Senior U.S. Navy criminal investigator John Beliveau II pleaded guilty to bribery charges.

Leonard Francis’ cousin, Alex Wisidagama, was a company manager. He pleaded guilty to conspiracy to defraud the U.S. government.

Also charged in the investigation is Commander Michael Vannak Khem Misiewicz.

Police Seek Out Hartford's Homeless as Bitter Cold Arrives


As bitter cold descends around the state, police officers in Hartford are searching the city for those in need of a warm place to stay.

"We've got to look out for folks that may not necessarily be able to look out for themselves," explained Hartford police Sgt. Jeffrey Morrison.

Police patrolling the city are taking a closer look at the side streets and alleyways of Hartford, keeping an eye out for some of the city's most vulnerable.

Scanning under bridges and places that help deflect the wind, Morrison found blankets and sleeping bags but no one settling down for the night. The frigid weather can be a dangerous time for the homeless, so police want to make sure they have somewhere to go.

"Hypothermia can set in very quickly, especially if you're not properly layered up, if you don't have the proper clothing, you don't have the proper shelter," Morrison said.

Even if Hartford shelters reach capacity, police will make sure to find the homeless someplace safe to weather the storm.

"Sometimes we have to go out of town. We have to bring them out to Manchester, East Hartford, New Britain, Tolland," Morrison explained. "They really need to be out of this cold. It's not healthy, not safe for anybody."

As the temperatures continue to drop over the next few days and wind chills dip below zero, police will make the rounds at places outside where the homeless are known to spend time.

"All police officers, our primary job is a caretaker, the preservation of life and property," said Morrison.

Governor Cancels Trip to White House Because of Flight Delays


Gov. Dannel Malloy will not be attending a meeting at the White House with President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden because weather conditions in Washington, DC, are causing flight delays.

Malloy was scheduled to fly to Washington, DC on Tuesday morning, go to the “Third Annual Executive Committee Meeting” organized by the National Governors Association, and return in the early evening

However, the governor’s flight was delayed to the point that he would not have been able to attend this meeting, so he will remain in the Hartford area today, according to his office.


10 Lieutenant Positions Cut From New Haven Fire Department


The New Haven Board of Alders is making changes at the city fire department.

The board voted unanimously Monday night to cut 10 lieutenant positions worth about $800,000. City officials said the cut positions, which are not currently filled, will allow the department to hire more entry-level firefighters.

“What that ultimately does is give us room to add more firefighter one and twos, and will ultimately reduce the overtime,” explained New Haven Mayor Toni Harp.

The move comes as part of the city's overall plan to revamp the department.

“We are in the process of looking at the procedures and protocols in place, making sure they're in line with the national bodies that govern that sort of thing, and making sure that we're using technology efficiently,” said Harp.

However, New Haven’s fire union argued against eliminating the positions and said there should have been more discussion before any decisions were made. He said he's skeptical the move will save money.

“I think that's New Haven fuzzy math, $800,000. There are no savings. Somebody has to show me on a piece of paper that they saved us $800,000. It's not correct,” said union president Lt. James Kottage.

Kottage said the city just announced new promotional exams, but now is limiting the opportunities for veteran firefighters to advance.

“That's 10 lost opportunities. They've been in the budget for the last 50 years. There should have been discussion as to how to eliminate these positions, work with the union, work with the firefighters, work with the city. All of us should be communicating a little better, and that's not happening,” said Kottage.

One thing the city and fire union can agree on is that the cuts will not affect public safety. They both said New Haven firefighters will continue to respond quickly to every call.

"Prom Angels" Gives Gowns to Girls in Need


Free formal wear is now available to high school girls in Meriden who can't afford to buy their own prom dresses, thanks to a new initiative called Prom Angels.

"Right now our goal is to collect as much dresses, accessories, shoes, jewelry as we can. That way we can build the closet," explained Melissa Kasperzyk, the force behind Prom Angels.

Kasperzyk said the idea arose during one of her routine closet clean-outs.

"I have a ton of dresses and I wanted to get rid of them," she said. "I was going to sell them to a consignment shop, but rather than sell them, I chose to give them away."

She set up a Facebook page with details about where to drop off the gowns.

Kasperzyk said she hopes to distribute the donations to girls recommended by guidance counselors at the three high schools in Meriden in March, in time for prom season.

Governor Activates State Severe Weather Protocol


As the temperatures plunge, Gov. Dannel Malloy has activated the state’s severe cold weather protocol from today through Saturday.

“We must continue to protect the most vulnerable during these severe cold weather outbreaks,” Malloy said in a statement. “I urge anyone in need of shelter to call 2-1-1 and encourage local communities to consider opening warming centers or other facilities to assist people in need.”

The high for today will be in the low 20s and dip down to around 12 degrees tonight. Expect a cold morning Thursday, with lows -5 and 5 degrees and wind chills as low as -25.

Wind chill watches have been issued for Hartford, Litchfield, Tolland and Windham counties from Wednesday evening through Thursday morning.

By activating the protocol, the Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection, the Department of Social Services, the Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services and the Department of Housing are directed to coordinate with 211 and the state network of shelters.

This also activates the DESPP’s Division of Emergency Management and Homeland Security WebEOC communications network, an online system that allows local, regional and state emergency management officials and first responders to share up-to-date information about a variety of situations and conditions, monitor capacity at shelters across the state and allow 211 to act as a clearinghouse to assist in finding shelter space for those who need it.

Photo Credit: FILE/Getty Images
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Driver Tries to Fight Cops to Evade Sobriety Test: PD


A driver tried to assault two Bristol police officers during a motor vehicle stop Tuesday evening.

William E. Dodge, 51, of Bristol, walked away from officers and tried to get into his home while they were trying to administer a field sobriety test, police said. He wouldn't listen when they told him to stop and he grew physically combative when they blocked him from entering his door, police said.

He tried to fight with the officers and police were able to bring him into custody after the struggle, police said.

Neither officer was injured.

Police charged Dodge with two counts of attempted assault on a police officer, interfering with a police officer, operating under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs, operating under a suspended license, two counts of failure to obey a stop sign, driving the wrong way on a one-way street, failure to signal, possession of less than a half-ounce of marijuana and possession of drug paraphernalia.

He is being held on a $15,000 bond until his appearance in Bristol Superior Court on Wednesday morning.

Man Charged in West Hartford Craigslist Robbery


West Hartford police have arrested a local man suspected of robbing another man who was trying to sell his iPhone on Craigslist.

The victim called police around 9:30 p.m. on Tuesday, said he’d been robbed and identified Martel Davis, 23, of West Hartford, as the alleged robber, police said.

The victim, who was selling an iPhone on Craigslist, said Davis contacted him about the iPhone, so they met on Westphal Street.

During the meeting, the victim took a photo of Davis to record the transaction, but when it was time to pay for the phone, Davis got out of the victim’s car and tried to get away, police said.

When the victim asked Davis what he was doing, he turned, pointed a BB gun at the victim and fired it toward him, according to police.

Investigators found Davis at his Oakwood Avenue home and also located the BB gun, police said.

He was arrested and charged with first-degree robbery, fifth-degree larceny, disorderly conduct, reckless endangerment, and carrying/brandishing a facsimile firearm.

Bond was set at $100,000.

Photo Credit: West Hartford Police

Man, 69, Charged With Harassing Sexual Assault Victim


A man who called someone multiple times who made a sexual assault complaint against him has been arrested, police said.

Police learned in a sexual assault investigation that Galen Shepherd, 69, of Glastonbury, contacted the victim numerous times even though his probation officer told him not to do so, police said.

The nature of the sexual assault complaint is unknown, but Shepherd is listed in the state's sex offender registry for a third-degree sexual assault conviction.

Officers took him into custody on a warrant and charged him with second-degree harassment.

Shepherd posted his $1,000 court-set surety bond.

He is scheduled to appear in Manchester Superior Court.

Photo Credit: Department of Emergency Services & Public Protection

I-84 Reopens After 6-Vehicle Crash


Interstate 84 east has reopened in West Hartford after a crash involving a tractor-trailer and five other vehicles.

The crash is near exit 43 and the highway was closed to one lane while emergency crews were on scene.

There is no word on injuries.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Man Threw Lit Firework Into Neighbor's Apartment: Cops


A 58-year-old Waterbury man was arrested after launching fireworks in a neighbor's apartment unit, according to Waterbury police.

The neighbor told police that Alan Zawacki knocked and threw a lit Roman candle into the apartment he opened the door.

Zawacki ran down the hall as sparks flew from the Roman candle, police said.

By the time firefighters and police responded, the firework had been put out, police said.

Zawacki hid from police in the closet in his bed room, where they ultimately found him, police said.

Police charged Zawacki with reckless burning, first-degree reckless endangerment and breach of peace, police said.

He appeared in Waterbury Superior Court on Tuesday and the judge set hit bond at $25,000, according to police. He is also forbidden from seeing the victim, police said.

Photo Credit: Waterbury Police Department

Woman Assaulted at Work Speaks Out


A San Diego woman who was brutally beaten and sexually assaulted at her workplace Sunday wants everyone to know she is not a victim.

Milan Leone’s voice sounded strong Tuesday as she spoke with NBC 7 about what happened to her. It is NBC 7’s policy not to identify victims of sexual assault. But Leone, considered by one friend to be a “fighter,” wants to share her story to help others.

At 5 feet 4 inches and 110 pounds, Leone managed to fight off her attacker and grab for a phone in the middle of the violent beating. Officials say Leone could be heard on 911 pleading with her attacker.

The shop’s surveillance camera captured what happened, according to owner Matthew Shlemon. He said he watched the video and saw Leone grabbed from behind and punched at least 15 times.

“She fought. She fought tooth and nail and the decisions she made potentially saved her life,” Shlemon said.

As the attacker walked away to lock the shop door, Leone can be seen on the video grabbing the phone and dialing 911, her boss said.

Leone told NBC 7 she did not know Jason Stey, the man arrested in the attack.

She and Stey had a five-minute interaction once when Stey came in to purchase something at the smoke shop.

On Sunday, however, deputies say Stey left his job mid-shift at Dogtopia, walked across San Marcos Boulevard and into the smoke shop.

Investigators with the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department said Stey attacked Leone and in the process also punched a dog when it tried getting between them.

He was arrested at the scene of the attack and was booked into the Vista Detention Facility for numerous charges including rape by force/fear.

On Tuesday, deputies said Stey attempted suicide in his cell. He was rushed to Tri-City Medical Center and then Scripps La Jolla Trauma Center, officials said.

On Wednesday morning, deputies confirmed Stey died at 10:10 p.m. Tuesday. There has been an investigation launched into his death.

Court records show Stey had been arrested at least five times before, and the District Attorney's office says Stey served a prison term in 2011 for assault with a deadly weapon and carrying a concealed dirk/dagger.

People throughout the county are coming together to support a young woman, Sheriff’s officials said.

Shlemon created a gofundme site to support Leone, whom he calls “a friend” and “like a baby sister.”

“She doesn’t want to feel like she’s a victim. She wants to feel like she conquered this,” said Schlemon.

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Politicians Say Magazine Massacre Violates Free Speech


Connecticut politicians weighing in on the mass shooting that killed at least 12 people at a Parisian satirical news magazine Wednesday are calling the attack an affront to free speech and democracy.

U.S. Rep. Elizabeth Esty (D-5) is calling for President Barack Obama to provide support to France after the shooting massacre at Charlie Hebdo in Paris France that resulted in the death of journalists and police.The tragedy happened after the satirical publication named Muslim Prophet Muhammad the editor-in-chief of its next issue, which featured an illustration of the Prophet on the cover, NBC News reported.

“My thoughts and prayers are with the victims of this horrific terrorist attack and their loved ones. As a global community, we value the freedom of the press," Esty said in a statement. "I strongly condemn today’s abhorrent assault on this basic tenant of free societies. I urge President Obama and his administration to offer President François Hollande and French officials all available U.S. assistance to bring the perpetrators to justice.”

U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Connecticut) also weighed in, stating that the attacks are a violation of "freedom and democracy."

"Today we stand in solemn solidarity with our friends and allies in France and condemn in the strongest terms the cowardly terrorist attack this morning at the offices of Charlie Hebdo," Murphy said in a statement. "An attack against this newspaper - against journalists, cartoonists, and editors - is a strike at the most fundamental ideals of freedom and democracy. I’m absolutely appalled by the extremists who have once again demonstrated that they have nothing to offer but violence and fear. My heart goes out to the victims, their families, and to the people of France as they remember the compatriots who were lost today. "

His fellow U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Connecticut) called the mass shooting "senseless," "heinous" and an "assault free on speech across the world."

"My heart is with the victims and their families," Blumenthal tweeted.


Photo Credit: AFP

Police Dog Injured During Hit-and-Run Investigation


A North Haven police dog was badly injured while helping to investigate a hit-and-run in New Haven on Monday night.

The K9, Zeus, badly injured one of his back legs while searching for a driver who fled the scene after a crash that sent a car into a body of water, according to police.

The dog went through surgery at Central Animal Hospital and is expected to be out of service for several weeks while he heals from this injury.

North Haven Police said they started investigating at 6:45 p.m. on Monday when New Haven police asked for help to find the driver of a black BMW who had collided with a vehicle, causing the victim’s car to go off the road and land in water, police said.

The driver of the BMW fled, heading north on Interstate 91 with one tire deflated, police said, and the last report of a sighting was from a witness who reported seeing the vehicle leaving the highway and heading onto Montowese Avenue in North Haven, according to police.

Officers searched the Montowese area and found the unoccupied BMW on Quinnipiac Avenue, near Moulthroup Street, police said.

Officer Brennan and Zeus responded and the dog traced the scent of the driver through a residential area. While going over a metal fence, Zeus suffered a serious injury to his rear leg and was transported to the animal hospital, where he underwent surgery.

Photo Credit: North Haven Police

Man Sentenced in Triple-Fatal Arson


A 51-year-old New Haven man will be sentenced on Tuesday in connection with a fire that killed a mother, her 8-year-old son and 18-year-old niece in the Fair Haven section of New Haven in 2011.

The fire on Wolcott Street in March 2011 killed 42-year-old Wanda Roberson, her 8-year-old son, Quayshawn and her 21-year-old niece, Jaqueeta Roberson.

In April, a federal jury found Hector Morales and his 26-year-old son, Hector Natal, guilty on several charges. Authorities said Natal set the fire in a drug dispute with another person in the building. 

Morales was found guilty on one narcotics charge, three charges of accessory to arson after the fact resulting in the deaths of Wanda, Jaquita and Quayshawn, two witness tampering charges and one conceal/destruct evidence charge

Natal was found guilty on one narcotics charge, one attempted arson charge and three arson charges resulting in the deaths of Wanda, Jaquita and Quayshawn, as well as two witness tampering charges.

Morales will be sentenced at 11 a.m. on Thursday.


Photo Credit: Family Photos
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