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Local Students Can See "Selma" for Free


A national effort is underway to allow students to celebrate a national movement.

From Jan. 16 through Jan. 19, Martin Luther, King Jr. Day, Connecticut students in grades seven, eight and nine have the chance to see the movie "Selma" for free at select theaters around the state.

“I think it is fantastic,” said Sandra Kelsey, of Avon. “I think it is a wonderful opportunity for kids to go see these films and learn about history.”

The AMC Lowes in Plainville is one of 10 local theaters that will feature the film, which depicts King’s dangerous struggle to secure equal voting rights.

According to Scott Esdaile, president of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People in Connecticut, the takeaway is tremendous.

“A lot of people just focus on the 'I have a dream' speech. They don't understand all of the sacrifices that Dr. King had to make,” said Esdaile.

Free admission is possible thanks to a fund created by a number of people and families who hope at least 8,000 local students wo;; be inspired by the film’s message of resilience and hope.

Yeissmin Quinones, of New Britain, said the movie provides a perfect platform to educate students.

“They see things in a book they don't put interest, you put it in a movie they are going to remember it," Quinones said. "It’s almost like you put it on social media they are going to remember it.”

In fact, students will take to social media to share their responses to the film, along with the hashtag "#Selmaforstudents."

Students interested in attending must present their student IDs or report cards at any of the participating locations.

Electric Boat Adding Hundreds of Jobs


At a time some companies continue to lay off workers, Electric Boat is hiring.

The Groton-based company is planning to add at least 600 new workers in Groton and New London this year, according to president Jeffrey Geiger.

"We’re projecting a period of long-term growth. Throughout it, we must continue to deliver Virginia-class submarines under cost and ahead of schedule, deliver high-quality Ohio Replacement design products and develop our workforce to meet the challenges of this increased workload,” Geiger said in a memo to employees.

"That is the best news we've heard in a long time," said Tony Sheridan, the president of the Chamber of Commerce of Eastern Connecticut. "The region needed something like this. The ripple effect from this will be enormous, just the new people that will be brought in to the area, the real estate, the construction business."

Congressman Joe Courtney helped deliver funding for the company's latest projects, which include building two Virginia-class subs a year for five years and the design and engineering work for new subs to replace the retiring Ohio-class. Construction is slated to start on the replacement fleet in 2021, according to Electric Boat.

"This is a huge priority right now in terms of where the Navy wants to invest its resources," said Courtney. "It is such a tight competitive budget environment right now for defense and everything else in Washington. The fact that Electric Boat's work stands out in terms of the national security needs for the country but also the high performance of the people there, it just speaks volumes."

Right now, Electric Boat employs 12,800 workers company-wide.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Caught on Cam: Killer Waits for Vic


"This was a very well planned execution."

Days after a mother and newlywed was gunned down as she waited for a SEPTA bus, Philadelphia Police Capt. James Clark showed surveillance video in hopes of capturing Kim Jones' killer, who remained calm while pulling the trigger.

"Investigation reveals that Ms. Jones was standing at the bus stop waiting to go to work when an unknown offender walked up behind her and killed her," said Clark.

Round-the-clock police work turned up multiple video angles of Jones and her assailant in the moments before and after the attacker shot Jones in the back of the head, said Clark.

"The perpetrator was outside of the decedent's house for about an hour prior to the murder, in one of the breezeways — you can see the person's head keeping popping out, looking, waiting for her to come out," he said.

The first video shows Jones walking to the SEPTA bus northbound on 12th Street toward Jefferson Street Tuesday shortly after 9:15 a.m., said police.

A short time later, you see the suspect — dressed in all black and holding a duffel bag — walk toward Jones as she waited for the bus while listening to gospel music.

Police didn't show video of the actual shooting, but they did show the shooter calmly fleeing after putting the gun back in the duffel bag.

Medics pronounced the 56-year-old woman dead at the scene, about two blocks from Temple University's campus. Despite having jewelry, her cellphone and her purse on her, Jones wasn't robbed, said police.

Jones left behind two grown children. Family said she had married just two weeks ago.

"She was a good person — she's college-educated, the mother of two sons and a hard worker," said nephew Steve Jones.

Video captured the suspect, still covered head to toe in black, boarding SEPTA’s Broad Street Line Subway at the Cecil B Moore stop shortly after the shooting, said police. The suspect can be seen going five stops north, getting off at Hunting Park and walking out the Bristol Street exit.

"(The suspect) was dressed so that you could not make out if it was a male, a female or the ethnicity or anything about the individual," said Clark. " ... (The suspect) made a point of not looking up at the video cameras — almost knew where the cameras were going to be — going down the subway and on the subway and made a point to never look up."

Family members said Jones often walked about one block to the corner where she died to grab the Route 23 bus to Center City, where she had worked for Turning Points for Children for the past decade.

"We are devastated by the news of Kim’s death," said Turning Points Chief Executive Officer Mike Vogel.

Clark described the "heartless predator" as standing about 5-feet, 10 inches to 6 feet, 1-inch tall with a stocky build. The suspect wore dark clothing, including an aviator hat with flaps on the side and fur lining, and white-colored Beats headphones.

"Out hope is that someone if they saw this individual Tuesday morning will contact us and tell us who he is," said Clark.

Police believed someone who knew Jones' routine targeted her. Anyone with information is asked to contact Philadelphia Police. A $20,000 reward is being offered for information leading to an arrest.

Jones will be laid to rest Tuesday with a viewing followed by funeral at the Church of the Advocate at 18th and Diamond streets starting at 8 a.m.

Photo Credit: Surveillance Image Released by Philadelphia Police

Subway Restaurant Robbed at Gunpoint


Police are investigating after a man clad in black robbed a Subway restaurant at gunpoint along Route 81 in Killingworth.

According to police, the suspect entered the Subway store at 184 Route 81 shortly before 2 p.m. Thursday and pulled out a black pistol. He demanded money from an employee behind the counter and made off with an undisclosed amount of cash.

The suspect left on foot. State police K-9 teams searched the area but were not able to track him down. Police said investigators are poring over surveillance footage in an effort to figure out where he went.

Police said he was wearing a black ski mask, black hooded sweatshirt and black pants.

The investigation is ongoing. Anyone with information is urged to call State Police Troop F in Westbrook at 860-399-2100.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Body Found in Home on Blatchley Avenue in New Haven


Police are investigating after officers found a body at an apartment in New Haven while responding to the report of a possible gas leak in the area.

According to police, a 51-year-old man was found dead in the back bedroom of an apartment at 411 Blatchley Avenue in New Haven on Friday afternoon.

Police do not suspect any foul play or criminal activity in connection with the death. The medical examiner will conduct an autopsy.

Authorities said initial readings did not indicate high levels of natural gas in the building.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Car Slams Into Wethersfield Apartment Building


Emergency crews are responding to the Village at Wethersfield apartments, where a car struck a building late Friday afternoon and ended up in the hallway, according to first responders at the scene.

Police said the SUV smashed into the apartment building at 52 Village Drive in Wethersfield. No apartment units were damaged, but the collision left a gape hole in the hallway.

The driver, a woman, was the only person in the car, according to police. She was hospitalized for treatment of unknown injuries. Police said no one else was hurt.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Teen Undergoing Forced Chemo Urges Threats to Stop


In a plea via Facebook, 17-year-old Cassandra C. said Connecticut Children’s Medical Center and the Department of Children and families have received threats after last week’s Supreme Court decision, which ruled the teen was not mature enough to make her own medical decisions.

Cassandra, who has been diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma, is required to undergo chemotherapy treatments until she turns 18 in September.

“Recently there have been a lot of threatening phone calls made to the hospital and to DCF," Cassandra wrote in a message to NBC Connecticut. "I understand there are people outraged by my situation, I am certainly not happy about it myself, but making threats is not and will not help me in any way at all.”

“When I ask about when they are going to release me, they are concerned about my safety because of the phone calls,” she added in a personal message.

Fortin and her daughter still do not agree with the State Supreme Court ruling last week that forces the teen to keep having chemotherapy. Nevertheless, they say some people have gone too far.

“I don’t think anybody should be threatening anybody,” said Cassandra’s mother, Jackie Fortin.

The Department of Children and Families took custody of Cassandra last month, saying in court documents that the teen missed doctor’s appointments and ran away from home after starting treatment.

“We never blew off appointments,” said Fortin. “We never missed appointments. Did we have to reschedule some because of our work schedule? Absolutely.”

Neither the DCF nor Connecticut Children's has commented on — or confirmed — the alleged threates. A representative for DCF said the agency wants to focus on making sure Cassandra receives the treatment she needs.

Meanwhile, DCF and the state Supreme Court have stood firm on their decision, saying Cassandra had her chance to prove she was more mature than her actions showed.

And looking back, Fortin stands by each decision she and her daughter have made along the way.

“We were doing what we were supposed to be doing,” she said. “So would I have done anything different? No.”

Photo Credit: Jackie Fortin

Warming Centers Open as Temperatures Drop


As snow squalls move out and bitter wind chills move in, the governor is activating the state's Severe Cold Weather Protocol and warming centers are opening up.


  • The Alvin & Beatrice Wood Human Services Center at 330 Park Avenue will serve as a warming center Friday from 3 p.m. to 9 p.m., Saturday from 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. and Monday from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. Those in need of shelter are asked to use the community/youth center entrance on the west side of the building.
  • The Prosser Library at 1 Tunxis Avenue will be oipen from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday. The town will provide water but guests are asked to bring their own food, medications, emergency contact numbers and any other necessary items.


  • The community room at the Norwalk Police Department at 1 Monroe Street will serve as a daytime warming shelter.
  • The Open Door Shelter at 4 Merritt Street will be open overnight.


  • Domus/Chester Addison Community Center at 245 Selleck Street will be open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., Saturday from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Sunday from 2 p.m. to 9 p.m.
  • Stamford Family YMCA at 10 Bell Street will be open from Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
  • Faith Tabernacle Missionary Baptist Church at 29 Grove Street will be open Monday through Thursday from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m., Saturday from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. and Sunday from 3 p.m. to 9 p.m.
  • Glenbrook Community Center at 35 Crescent Street will be open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m.
  • The first-floor lobby of the Government Center at 888 Washington Boulevard will be open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
  • The Jewish Community Center at 1035 Newfield Avenue will be open Monday through Thursday from 5:30 a.m. to 10 p.m., Friday from 5:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturday from 7:30 a.m. to 9 p.m.
  • The fire stations at 629 Main Street, 215 Washington Bouluevard, 80 Fairfield Avenue, 364 Shippan Avenue, 1600 Washington Boulevard, 8 Dorlen Road, 366 Long Ridge Road, 987 Hope Street atn 268 Turn of River Road will be open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.
  • An overnight warming center will be open to the homeless at 8 Woodland Place from 8 p.m. to 8 a.m.

Photo Credit: Getty Images

More Products Pulled From Stop & Shop Shelves


Two days after Stop & Shop pulled a brand of ground cumin from its shelves, the supermarket chain is recalling three other products over possible peanut traces not listed on the labels.

The affected products include:

  • Franklin Farms Chili-Bean Veggiburger, 10 ounces, four-count package with a use- or freeze-by date of 1/25/15 or 3/1/15
  • Garden Lites Southwestern Souffle, 7 ounces, with an expiration date of 4/5/16, 5/18/16 or 5/19/16
  • Garden Lites Veggie Chili & Cornbread Melt, 7 ounces, with an expiration date of 4/26/16

No illnesses have been linked to the products. Stop & Shop customers are urged to throw out the items and bring back their receipts to receive a refund.

More information is available through the Stop & Shop customer service line 800-767-7772.

Parents Balk At Lebanon School Name


Some parents in the Frisco Independent School District want a name change for the new Lebanon High School, saying the school set to open next year shouldn't share its name with the Middle East nation and that the community should get a say in naming it.

A group of eight parents met with NBC 5 Friday as they push for the district to rename the new school on Ohio Drive. They say they were originally told it would be called Freedom High School and are disappointed in what they call a less patriotic, and potentially confusing, choice.

The district says Lebanon High School got its name from a community of farmers who settled near the old Shawnee Trail half a century before the city of Frisco was established, the district says. The naming committee picked its name to honor the area's heritage.

But parent Liffey Skender wonders if that reference still resonates today. “There are a lot of people out there that are not happy with this name,” she said.

Skender voiced her concerns at a board of trustees meeting in December and says that since then, she’s received about 100 emails and two dozen phone calls from others who share them.

Robert Mays is another parent who shares her concerns. "For a high school name, it doesn’t fit this community,” Mays said.

The parents say they simply want the district to put the name change to a vote, in a community already dealing with steady growth and subsequent redistricting.

“All we’re asking for is a voice, to be heard and have an open mind,” Skender said. She said the district could promote ownership in the new campus by giving students and parents a chance to be involved in the naming process.

Her group is rallying support to speak at the next school board meeting on Feb. 9.

The district told NBC 5, however, that it did not plan to change the overall name of the school. It plans to modify the name, but only to add another word like “community,” “central,” “memorial” or “trail" to it, so the school won't be confused with Liberty High School, which already goes by LHS.

A district spokesperson told NBC 5 that while the district has tweaked school names before, it has never abandoned an overall concept name for a school.

Photo Credit: NBC 5 News

$100K in Construction Equipment Stolen From Norwalk


Police are investigating after $100,000 worth of construction equipment was stolen from a Norwalk business last weekend.

Thieves targeted AM Rizzo Electric Contractors on Glover Avenue in Norwalk and made off with a black-and-yellow 2007 New Holland skid steer, a red 2000 Sterling dump truck and a yellow 2004 Eager Beaver trailer, according to police.

Police said the machinery was last seen around 5 p.m. Friday, Jan. 9 and was discovered missing at 7 a.m. on Monday, Jan. 12.

Anyone with information about the theft is urged to call the Norwalk police tipline at 203-854-3111 or text keyword "NPD" to CRIMES (27637).

Anonymous tips can be submitted online.

Photo Credit: Norwalk Police Department

Girls' Coach Ousted After 161-2 Win


A Southern California girls’ high school basketball team scored more than 150 points than their opponents last week, a historically lopsided win that led to the coach's suspension.

Arroyo Valley High School put away 161 points in their game against Bloomington High on Monday, Jan. 5.

It wasn't Bloomington's first blow-out loss this season -- in fact, they haven't scored more than 23 points in going 0-15 this year -- but they only managed two points in the game, scored in the third quarter, according to MaxPreps.com.

The 161-2 score is the most lopsided girls’ basketball tally in Southern California history, according to the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin.

Arroyo coach Michael Anderson was suspended for two games this week, team parents said. He missed a game Wednesday that the Arroyo Hawks still won handily, 80-19, and will sit out another Friday, while his son coaches the team.

The school didn't say if it had supended Anderson, saying it doesn't comment on personnel issues. Anderson didn't return numberous phone calls.

"People shouldn't feel sorry for my team. They should feel sorry for his team, which isn't learning the game the right way," Bloomington coach Dale Chung told the San Bernardino Sun.

But Arroyo parent Martha Godinez called the suspension outrageous and unfair.

"Our team is good and we can't help (that) our team's good," Godinez said.

The scoreline grew to a sporting scandal, with pundits across the web, and near the schools, weighing in whether the game was unsportsmanlike.

"It's too embarrasing for the school," said Riverside resident Jesus Espinoza.

Administrators at Arroyo Valley have reached out to their counterparts at Bloomington to start "rebuilding and maintaining a mutually respectful relationship," said the San Bernardino City Unified School District in a statement that noted action could still be taken if necessary.

"We want to use that game as a teachable moment for the rest of our athletes...throughout the school district to understand to play with really great sportsmanship," superintendent Maria Garcia said.

Photo Credit: Alex Vasquez

Child Sex Offender Caught in Virginia


Police have tracked down a convicted sex offender who fled the state during his trial in November.

Plainfield police went down to Eastville, Virginia, to take custody of Randy A. Wright, 41, who had been booked into the Eastern Shore Regional Jail, authorities said.

Wright was extradited back to Connecticut on a charge of first-degree failure to appear after leaving town while on trial in November. A jury found him guilty of first- and second-degree sexual assault of a minor and risk of injury to a minor.

With help from the U.S. Marshals Office, police tracked him across the country through Utah, California, Colorado and finally Virginia.

Wright is being held on $1 million bond and is due in Danielson Superior Court on Jan. 20.

Photo Credit: Plainfield Police Department

YMCA Car Crash Stuns Swimmers


A car crashed into a Pennsylvania YMCA and almost wound up in the pool — shocking swimmers doing laps Friday.

An elderly woman mistook the brake for the accelerator when she slammed her red sedan partially into the pool area of Ridley Area YMCA on South Avenue in Secane around noon, said Ridley Township Police.

The woman wasn’t seriously hurt, police said.

There were swimmers using the pool at the time, said the YMCA. None of the swimmers were hurt but they sure did get a surprise by the gaping hole left in the wall.

“The Y is open, but the pool will be closed for the foreseeable future,” Michael Ranck, president and CEO of the Ridley Area YMCA, told the Delaware County Times.

Photo Credit: Jason Galloway, Delcotimes.com

Experts, Officials Address Earthquake Concerns


Several hundred uneasy residents packed into the Plainfield High School auditorium Friday night looking for answers after a dozen earthquakes shook the region in a matter of days.

Residents held their breaths as Friday came and went without a tremor – the first without a quake in five days. The largest of the 12 recorded earthquakes reached a magnitude of 3.3. The smallest clocked in at just 0.4.

This was a day of questions, many of which remain unanswered. State officials briefed residents and members of media Friday morning to address the cluster of quakes and what residents can do to stay safe as they brace for the possibility of a 13th tremor.

Hours later, residents gathered at Plainfield High School to describe what they felt and heard.

"It was comparable to a very large thunder boom," explained resident James Stout, "like a truck hitting your house."

Others shared their concerns and looked to the experts for an explanation.

"What might be next? What is this leading up to?" asked Brian Coleman.

The answers, however, did little to reassure residents on edge. Experts said earthquakes are new to this region and are generally difficult to predict.

However, scientists said they don't believe the cluster of quakes is a sign of something larger on the horizon.

"There's no evidence that this is a sign of anything new and big to come," explained Boston College Weston Observatory Director Alan Kafka.

Nonetheless, town leaders are urging residents to be ready. Officials passed out a list of safety tips so the town can be better prepared on the off chance a larger quake shakes the region.

Recommendations include:

  • Identifying a safe place in the house where you can go if a quake hits, such as under a piece of sturdy furniture.
  • Practicing, the "drop, cover and hold on" technique.
  • Bracing items that could come loose in a quake, such as water heaters, gas appliances, book cases, cabinets and other tall pieces of furniture.
  • Finding the gas and water valves in your home and make sure you know how to turn them off
  • Making sure propane gas is secure and that the valve to turn it off is accessible. If you smell gas, leave the home, refrain from turning on appliances and make sure to call for help.
  • Having an emergency supply kit handy, complete with a flashlight, batteries, a first-aid kid, bottled water and a radio if you have one.
  • Check your home for structural damage or cracks to the foundation, chimney and wood stove piping.
  • Put together family and workplace emergency plans.
  • Sign up to receive emergency information from www.CTAlert.gov.

Earthquake timeline in January 2015:

  • Jan. 8: 9:28 a.m. – 2.0 magnitude quake, centered in Plainfield
  • Jan. 9: 10:26 a.m. – 0.4 magnitude
  • Jan. 12: 6:33 a.m. – 1.6 magnitude
  • Jan. 12: 6:34 a.m. – 1.5 magnitude
  • Jan. 12: 6:36 a.m. – 3.3 magnitude
  • Jan. 12: 6:50 a.m. – 2.1 magnitude
  • Jan. 12: 12:03 p.m. – 1.7 magnitude
  • Jan. 12: 1:04 p.m. – 1.6 magnitude
  • Jan. 13: 7:27 a.m. – 2.3 magnitude
  • Jan. 14: 6:33 a.m. – 1.8 magnitude
  • Jan. 14: 8:10 a.m. – 1.5 magnitude
  • Jan. 15: 4:39 a.m. – 2.2 magnitude earthquake, near Moosup

A dozen more have been reported but experts said the tremors were not picked up by recording equipment. The Weston Observatory has since moved that equipment to Plainfield to record smaller quakes that rumble through town in the future.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Romney Hints at Presidential Run


Mitt Romney is addressing the GOP's winter meeting delegates aboard the USS Midway Museum on the Embarcadero Friday evening, a week after he told donors he would consider another presidential run in 2016.

The early meeting of party leaders looking ahead to the 2016 Republican presidential primary season has been creating nationwide buzz in Coronado this week. But a big question is whether La Jolla's high-profile homeowner could become the party's nominee again.

Romney hinted at another run as he addressed the party’s winter meeting delegates aboard the USS Midway Museum Friday evening, saying he is "giving some serious consideration to the future." 

“In the last few days, the most frequently asked question I get is, ‘What does Ann think about all this?’" Romney joked. "She believes people get better with experience, and heaven knows I have experience running for president.”

His chances of making a third time running for president a success have been the subject of recent poor-mouthing in media outlets and among prospective rivals.

But former California GOP chairman Ron Nehring said the former Massachusetts governor’s doubters shouldn't overlook this: "He has universal name ID across the country. He has a large existing political enterprise of donors, supporters, volunteers, activists. Everybody knows who he is. So obviously he would go into a race with a tremendous number of advantages."

Still, Republican leaders are encouraging a large field of prospects — from household names such as Jeb Bush, Rand Paul and Chris Christie to others less known outside the party, but highly regarded within it.

While the heavy hitters are a ways off from declaring candidacy, nearly two dozen possibilities have been mentioned as prospects, and it can't be said that Romney's considered the front-runner at this stage.

In any case, GOP leadership is risk-averse in considering the sharp downside posed by a third straight loss in presidential sweepstakes.

"We have to elect a Republican president,” Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus told an audience of several hundred party delegates at Hotel del Coronado Friday. "As we move forward in this election cycle, don't ever lose sight of that. It's not about me. It's not about you. It's not about us … 2016 could be a do-or-die moment for our party."

The GOP has seized control of both the House and Senate since Romney lost his 2012 challenge to President Obama.

And party bosses want to make it a clean sweep by taking the White House in 2016, vigorously talking up their chances at the gathering in Coronado.

"The candidates are all speaking at the public events,” said Tony Krvaric, chairman of the Republican Party of San Diego County. “But the real excitement happens behind the scenes where there are private meetings, and people get to kick the tires — if you will — of the candidates and the hopefuls."

So what's the pressure that would be left in "the tires" of a Mitt Romney candidacy for the White House, after he finished 4 points behind President Obama in the 2012 popular vote and 23 percent behind in the Electoral College numbers?

It's something that figures to give party leaders pause.

"This is why those people who want to do away with the primaries and just kind of anoint a candidate — they're wrong,” Nehring told NBC 7. “Because in the course of that primary contest, we get to decide: do we want to have a fresh face? Or do we want to go with a candidate who almost won last time?"

Meantime, a prominent local Democrat who's served as press secretary to congressmen and senators including Robert Kennedy cautions that Romney's credentials shouldn't be discounted.

"I think too many people, in judging him, judge him in just a solely political context,” said George Mitrovich, president of the City Club of San Diego. “Which means they don't like his politics. I don't think you can do that. I would not dismiss him as being the nominee of the Republican Party in 2016."

In an interview Friday, Mitrovich pointed to Richard Nixon's being elected president after losing eight years earlier: "So why are we so quick to think that Romney doesn't matter? Romney matters!"

Nonetheless, fresh online postings Friday raised continued raising concerns about Romney's viability as a prospective nominee.

Reports from Mother Jones magazine cited a former 2012 Romney policy adviser wishing that Romney wouldn’t run again, and a “huge new conflict of interest program” stemming from Romney family business ventures.

There have been earlier references to Romney as “a retread … recycled … yesterday’s news” – some speculating that he might meet the fate of the late Gov. Thomas Dewey (R-NJ), who lost presidential elections twice in the 1940s.

More Targets in Navy Bribe Scandal?


Prosecutors say there are more targets in the massive corruption scandal that involved senior Navy officials trading classified information for everything from luxury travel and prostitutes to knick-knacks and top-shelf alcohol.

Singapore businessman Leonard “Fat Leonard” Francis, 50, admitted guilt Thursday in the corruption conspiracy that one published report described to be “of epic proportions.”

“Our investigation is continuing and its gathering momentum,“ said Assistant U.S. Attorney Mark Pletcher, who referred to "scores" of Navy personnel implicated by Francis in the plea agreement.

When asked if more senior Navy officials could be implicated in the case, Pletcher said federal prosecutors will follow the case to wherever the evidence leads.

Francis pleaded guilty to three charges including conspiracy to commit bribery, bribery and conspiracy to defraud the United States for enlisting senior Navy officials to redirect ships to ports he owned in several countries including Malaysia, Japan and Indonesia.

The charges carry a maximum exposure of 25 years in prison. Francis and GDMA were ordered to forfeit $35 million as a result of the guilty plea.

Court documents show that Francis and his company GDMA gave the co-conspirators – officials ranging from an NCIS investigator to a battleship commander – millions of dollars in gifts over 10 years beginning in 2004.

The gifts included luxury travel for the officials and family members, prostitutes, lavish meals, top-shelf alcohol, designer handbags, fountain pens, Kobe beef, Spanish suckling pigs and Cuban cigars, prosecutors said. Some officials agreed to turn over classified information for personal electronics, while others accepted gifts of model ships and ornamental swords, prosecutors said.

Navy officials deleted email accounts or used foreign-based email providers, Skype, Whats App and Blackberry chat to disguise the communication with GDMA and Francis, prosecutors said.

NBC 7 has been covering the investigation since it was first revealed in September 2013.

Guilty pleas have been entered by Navy Capt. Daniel Dusek, Navy Cmdr. Jose Luis Sanchez, Retired Navy Lt. Cmdr. Edmond A. Aruffo, Navy Petty Officer First Class Dan Layug, senior Navy criminal investigator John Beliveau II and GDMA company manager Alex Wisidagama.

Captain-Select Michael Vannak Khem Misiewicz, one of the Navy officials accused in the conspiracy, was scheduled for a status hearing Friday.

He served as Deputy Director of Operations for the Commander of the 7th Fleet aboard USS Blue Ridge from 2011 to 2012. Prior to that he was the commanding officer on USS Mustin, a forward-deployed Destroyer class vessel in the U.S. Navy's 7th Fleet, home-ported in Yokosuka, Japan.

Two other unidentified co-conspirators have yet to be charged by federal prosecutors according to court documents released Thursday.

One, a Lt. Commander who is currently assigned to NAVSUP in Ventura, California but who served as a Supply Officer on USS Blue Ridge from 2005 to 2007.

The second is a Singapore woman who has been employed as a U.S. Navy contract specialist for more than 20 years.

Attorneys and investigators with the Department of Justice, Criminal Division are helping in the prosecution and NCIS had worked as a key investigative agency in the case.

Photo Credit: NBC 7

I Feel Violated: Women Decry Rabbi



Jewish women demonstrated Friday outside the D.C. courthouse where an Orthodox rabbi accused of secretly videotaping women taking a ritual bath was appearing, as prosecutors sought to scour his computers for more possible victims.

Barry Freundel, 63, is charged with misdemeanor voyeurism involving six women. Prosecutors say Freundel secretly videotaped women as they undressed to prepare for a ritual bath in the National Capital Mikvah in Georgetown.

A group of demonstrators stood in front of D.C. Superior Court to support women the rabbi is accused of recording. Some carried signs reading "#SAFEMIKVEH" and "#NoPleaDeal."

"It's crucial that everyone, Jewish or not, stand up and say, 'These people need to be treated with respect and with dignity,'" said Carly Pildis, 29, one of the organizers of the demonstration. "I'm Jewish, and if you hurt converts, I'm going to come after you."

"I feel violated," said one unidentified woman who stood in front of the courthouse. She said the rabbi was supervising her conversion to Orthodox Judaism and asked her to take a "practice dunk" in the mikvah.

"I'm concerned I was one of the victims, and I'm no longer in the Orthodox conversion process," she said.

She said the experience drove her away from Orthodox Judaism. "It was so shocking."

At the brief hearing Friday, prosecutors asked for a delay to review all the video evidence obtained from computers that police seized from Freundel's home in October. Prosecutors are seeking to identify more victims.

Additionally, lawyers have filed civil lawsuits in federal and local courts to determine if Freundel recorded additional women in the mikvah. A class action lawsuit alleges at least 100 women may have been secretly recorded.

"I can confirm that the women that we represent have been videotaped. Their space was invaded by the rabbi at a time that was a particularly solemn moment where they were communing with God," said Ira Sherman, one of the lawyers involved in the case.

Freundel was the rabbi at the Kesher Israel Orthodox synagogue in Georgetown for 25 years. The synagogue terminated his contract as of Jan. 1.

A new hearing date is set for Feb. 19.

Dog Abandoned in 23-Degree Weather


Animal Control officers in New London are trying to track down the person who left a dog tied up at a school playground in 23-degree weather.

According to New London Animal Control, the pup was found abandoned at the Edgerton School around 12:30 a.m. Friday, when the temperature had dipped well below freezing.

"This poor guy is now safe and warm at the shelter," animal control officers posted on the department Facebook page.

The dog is not yet up for adoption, but officers are asking anyone with information to come forward and call New London Animal Control at 860-447-5231.

Photo Credit: New London Animal Control

Malloy Activates Severe Cold Weather Protocol


A line of snow squalls ushered in a new round of arctic air on Friday, and Gov. Dannel Malloy has activated the state's Severe Cold Weather Protocol as a result.

Temperatures dipped down into the teens Friday evening and will continue to fall overnight, bottoming out between -5 and 5 degrees across the interior and 5 to 15 degrees along the shoreline.

Winds are expected to pick up, gusting over 30 miles per hour and dropping wind chills to near zero on Friday night.

Malloy said Friday afternoon that the state will deploy teams that specialize in working with the homeless to make sure they find safe and warm places to stay. Anyone in need of shelter is urged to call 211.

Warming centers have begun to open ahead of the temperature dip.

Saturday will be in the 20s with a lot of sun before rain moves in on Sunday and Sunday night. The rain may end as snow in parts of Connecticut on Monday morning.

Photo Credit: Getty Images
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