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New Britain Company Makes "Deflategate" Soda


Deflated footballs might be a controversy the New England Patriots are facing as they head to the Super Bowl, but the so-named "Deflategate" is a scandal with flavor that Connecticut soda company is drinking in with its trademark humor.

"It's more fun to play with squishy balls" is the tag line on New Britain-based Avery's soda's new limited edition soda, Deflated Ball Brew.

The soda, produced just in time for Super Bowl Sunday, is a citrus fusion of grapefruit, orange and lime.

A customer asked about creating the soda last week and the company thought is was a great idea, so they came up with a soda that would be taste on its own, but also work as a mixer with alcoholic beverages.

Like the air reportedly missing from 11 of 12 Patriots-provided footballs in the AFC Championships against the Indianapolis Colts that drew scrutiny, Avery's Deflated Ball Brew has "a little less carbonation than normal," the company said on Facebook, and one out of every 12 sodas is made to be flat.

However, as the Pats head to Arizona to play the Seattle Seahawks in the Super Bowl, the soda company says "this soda is guaranteed to pump up any party."

Avery's is selling the Deflated Ball Brew at its New Britain bottling plant and at Stew Leonard's in Newington.

The company has even put together recipes for adult beverages that you can serve at your Super Bowl party, including Pigskin Punch, Gridiron Grog, Touchdown Tonic, Midfield Margarita and Squishy Ball Sangria.

In case anyone wonders where the company's loyalties lie, they said they will be rooting for the Patriots on Sunday.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com
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Bridgeport Mayor Threatened After MSNBC Appearance


After addressing the Blizzard of 2015 during a guest spot on MSNBC's "PoliticsNation" with Al Sharpton, Bridgeport Mayor Bill Finch began to receive threatening messages, prompting a police investigation, according to a city spokesperson.

"Mayor Finch is honored to have appeared on MSNBC's PoliticsNation. He's fond of Mr. Sharpton for many reasons, including his leadership on climate change issues," city communications director Brett Broesder said in a statement Wednesday.

"So following his interview that focused on adverse weather conditions in Bridgeport, and before he left the program, Mayor Finch thanked Mr. Sharpton for his leadership on climate change. It’s an issue that Mayor Finch is a leader on both locally and nationally, too," he added.

Broesder said Finch has received "many supportive notes from the community" since the segment but has also received a number of threats against Finch and his family. Bridgeport police are investigating at least one of those threats.

"We are taking the threats very seriously and have started an investigation. If we can identify the source of any of the threats, we will work with the State’s Attorney’s Office to bring charges, if appropriate," Bridgeport police Chief Joseph Gaudett said in a statement Wednesday.

Photo Credit: City of Bridgeport

Metro-North Back Up and Running After Blizzard


Metro-North service resumed its regular weekday schedule Wednesday after the Blizzard of 2015 dumped double-digit snow totals across most of Connecticut.

“The trains were one thing we were worried about, so we're very happy the trains are on schedule,” said commuter Annie Marchitto, who took the train out of Union Station in New Haven.

Heavy snowfall shut down public transportation in Connecticut and New York City on Tuesday and brought the northeast to a halt.

Although Metro-North returned to its regular schedule Wednesday, some Amtrak trains serving the Northeast corridor were again canceled or delayed.

“I was planning to take a train that leaves later today to Providence, but it was canceled yesterday. I bought a ticket for another train that was supposed to be leaving today, that was also canceled,” said Yale student Maya Binyam.

Despite limited service on Amtrak, Binyam was able to catch another train Wednesday. She was grateful not to be stranded, even though her new train ended up running 15 minutes late.

“I didn't think I was going to be able to leave, but then it seemed like the snow at least here in New Haven wasn't as bad as they said it was going to be,” said Binyam.

Amtrak said its Acela Express and Northeast Regional services will return to normal Thursday.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Police Probe 2 Bristol Scenes Half a Mile Apart


Police are investigating two scenes in Bristol – one outside Seymour Park on Shrub Road and another at a home on Round Hill Road about half a mile away.

Police said they were dispatched to Sarge Reilly Field on Shrub Road at 4:31 p.m. on Wednesday to conduct a well being check on a person in a vehicle and found a man dead inside the car.

Authorities are considering his death suspicious. No additional information has been released on the case

Authorities investigating on Wednesday night would not comment. but said there is no danger to the public. State police and Bristol police are working together to investigate.

According to witnesses, about half a dozen state police and Bristol police cruisers, some unmarked, parked near the park with their lights off.

A small pickup and a black Jeep parked off to the side with its doors open appear to be at the center of the Seymour Park investigation.

Around 10 p.m., some started their engines and appeared to begin checking the area of a bridge at Seymour Park, witnesses said.

Two cruisers are also set up outside a home on Round Hill Road, less than half a mile away, according to witnesses.

Anyone with information that could help police in the investigating is asked to call 860-584-3011.

Photo Credit: Tyler Jankoski
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Contractors Cash in on Snow Removal


 A day after the Blizzard of 2015 dropped double-digit snow totals across much of the state, contractors were still working to clear their own driveways – because they'd spend the past 24 hours plowing everyone else's.

“Actually, for 24 hours, I was in my truck,” said North Haven resident Dean Kyriakis, who worked with his family Tuesday to clear neighbors' sidewalks and driveways.

For private contractors, those 24 hours were worth it. This storm was the first of the season that dropped enough snow for contractors to go out and make money.

“The last 30 hours makes up for the beginning of the year. It's nice to get a snow storm now, but compared to last year, a lot of guys are wishing for snow, and here it is,” said Kip Luschenat, owner of Kip's Lawn Maintenance.

The goal Wednesday was to head back out and clean up any remaining parking lots before the next storm rolls in.

They’re not complaining, though. They're just waiting for the snow the area may see Friday and Sunday to head back out here and make a little dough.

“This helps us out. It helps the economy. It's nice seeing fuel prices low, too,” said Luschenat.

Pizza Order Leads to Standoff


Police in Irving, Texas, said a man ordered a second pizza during a four-hour standoff that resulted from his first attempt to order a pizza.

Daniel Gurney called a nearby pizzeria Tuesday night. The manager recognized Gurney as a former customer who once used a bad credit card, so he called police to report him for fraud.

When police ran a check on the address given by the pizzeria manager, they learned that Gurney had four probation violation warrants for aggravated assault. Officers responded to his location in the 2400 block of McClure Street at about 12:30 a.m. Wednesday.

Police said that an officer arrived to arrest Gurney, who did not cooperate. He tried to escape through the back door, but he was met by police. He then retreated into the house, refusing to come out.

Given Gurney's violent history, police called in a SWAT unit. Authorities said they used beanbag rounds, tear gas and flash-bang grenades before Gurney surrendered peacefully.

During the standoff, a different pizza delivery man arrived at the house with a pizza. Police told the man to leave.

Photo Credit: NBC 5 News
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Man Shot and Killed on Garden Street in Hartford


A man was shot and killed Wednesday night in the area of 692 Garden Street in Hartford, according to police.

Hartford police spokeman Deputy Chief Brian Foley said said the man died after being shot in the head. Major Crimes detectives are investigating.

The Church of the Most High God is listed on Google at that address.

Check back for updates on this developing story.

Instagram Down for a 2nd Time This Week


The photo-centric social media site Instagram was down Wednesday night, just two days after it suffered a similar outage.

The website Is It Down Right Now showed the site as being down shortly after 10:00 p.m. ET on Wednesday. By 10:40 p.m. ET it said the site was back up and reachable.

The site went down on Tuesday around the same time that Facebook, which owns Instagram, suffered a widespread outage lasting roughly 40 minutes.

Instagram has about 300 million users, compared to Facebook's 1.25 billion.

Users took to social media on Wednesday night to report the problem and the pain of not being able to post their photos.

Photo Credit: Getty Images
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2 Hospitalized, House Destroyed After Brooklyn Fire


A house fire on Gunnar Drive in Brooklyn, Connecticut, sent two people to the hospital Wednesday evening.

Emergency dispatchers said the fire broke out at 16 Gunnar Drive around 6:45 p.m. Wednesday. Five fire companies were called to the scene and Mortlake Fire was the first to respond.

The house is destroyed, according to dispatchers. The conditions of the two injured people are unknown.

Photo Credit: WINY Radio

Conn. Red Cross Heading to Mass. for Blizzard Help


Four volunteers from the American Red Cross in Connecticut are heading to Massachusetts to help residents recover from the Blizzard of 2015, which breached seawalls, left thousands without power and destroyed several homes.

“We were definitely prepared for this to happen back home and luckily it didn’t and we’re very honored to come help our neighbors,” says Mark Rozelle, an American Red Cross volunteer.

Rozelle, who is from Easton, says he is on standby in Hyannis. He’s waiting to hear how he can help, whether it’s running a shelter or handing out food or supplies.

“They got hit pretty hard. We’re seeing piles of snow that are so high that when you come to an intersection, you can’t even see around it,” says Rozelle.

In Marshfield, six homes were destroyed by flooding after a seawall collapsed.

And at one point, the entire island of Nantucket had lost power after hours of snow and hurricane force winds.

Connecticut volunteers could end up staying in Massachusetts for up to two weeks. The Red Cross said that in the past, Connecticut has relied on help from other states and now the tables have turned.

“We do our best to help our neighbors wherever we can,” says Paul Shipman, a spokesman for the American Red Cross.

Many blood drives in the state had to be cancelled because of the storm. Visit the Red Cross online to learn how to donate blood or money.

Photo Credit: NBC 5 News

1 Dead in Farmington Industrial Accident: Reports


One person has died after an accident at Stanley Security Acess Technologies at 65 Scott Swamp Road in Farmington on Wednesday afternoon, according to The Hartford Courant.

The Courant reports that the victim – a truck driver – was killed when a load of steel and aluminum fell on him. Police have not identified the person who died.

Farmington police spokesman Lt. Colin Ryan said the incident appears to have been accidental. The Occupational Health and Safety Administration is investigating.

Check back for updates on this developing story.

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Imprisoned Hit Man Gives LA Speech


The president of the LA Police Commission called for an investigation into the use of LAPD resources to arrange a secretive meeting among an imprisoned ex-Mexican Mafia hit man, top law enforcement officials and wealthy business leaders, calling it "embarrassing."

Rene Enriquez, who is known as "Boxer," was given a police escort to a secured downtown LA location on Spring Street, where sources said he was to give a crowd of about 125 firsthand insight about the inner-workings of the criminal enterprise.

"A whole lot of city resources were wasted here when they shouldn't have been," Police Commission President Steve Soboroff said.

Enriquez's appearance required a "multi-hour SWAT and LAPD presence," Soboroff said.

The cost of the operation, which included crossing county lines, was not immediately known. It was unclear how many other agencies were involved in Enriquez's appearance.

Enriquez, who is the subject of the book "The Black Hand: The Bloody Rise and Redemption of 'Boxer' Enriquez, a Mexican Mob Killer," worked his way up from enforcer to shot caller for the organization known as La Eme before his arrest and conviction. He is serving two 20-to-life sentences for murder.

The LAPD did not comment on the specific topics of the session but explained it served an educational purpose.

"LAPD in conjunction with local police chiefs from Los Angeles County and Young Presidents Organization (YPO) met this evening with a convicted criminal who was part of an ongoing criminal enterprise," the LAPD said in a statement to NBC News.

"The purpose was to learn how a transnational criminal enterprise was built, branded and marketed. Threats to our region remain terrorism and transnational criminal enterprises. It is the hope that we can learn and develop better strategies to counter these threats to our region,” the statement said.

A source who attended the session said Enriquez had the air of a corporate leader, providing "a rare look into life of a criminal corporate executive." The source, who asked not to be named, said Enriquez discussed "gang franchising, marketing, sales, merchandising and branding."

“We live in a dangerous city,” said another man who attended the session.

A spokesman for the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, which is responsible for Enriquez, had no immediate comment on the appearance, and was checking late Wednesday to see whether it had been approved.

"People make mistakes and it's our responsibility to find out exactly what happened," Soboroff said. "We need to find out how exactly much that cost and see how much money we can recover. "

NBC4's Willian Avila contributed to this report.

Derailment Jams Up Metro-North During Rush Hour


The Federal Railroad Administration is investigating minor train derailment at New York City's Grand Central Terminal caused cancellations and major delays along the Metro-North New Haven Line during peak travel time Wednesday evening, according to U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal.

A minor train derailment at Grand Central Terminal in New York City is causing cancellations along the Metro-North New Haven Line during peak travel time Wednesday evening,

An alert from Metro-North said the derailed train blocked equipment at Grand Central, prompting the railroad to cancel some trains and delay others. The alert warned commuters to expect late service and crowded rail cars.

Images from Grand Central show commuters packed into the lobby waiting for trains to take them home during peak travel time.

As of about 9:30 p.m., Metro-North said the blockage had been cleared but that trains along the New Haven Line were still delayed up to 15 minutes. The railroad sent an updated alert around 10 p.m. to say trains should be running on time.

Blumenthal, a member of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, said Wednesday night's derailment raises renewed safety concerns.

“Much more than a minor inconvenience, this disturbing multiple car derailment delays and disrupts travel for countless riders. The derailment, fairly or not, recalls past incidents – renewing concerns about safety and reliability. I will be raising detailed questions about the derailment with Metro-North. I appreciate that the FRA has begun an investigation and has alerted me to the incident.”

Photo Credit: NBCNewYork.com
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Police Investigate First Hartford Homicide of 2015


Hartford Police are investigating the first homicide of the year in the capital city after finding a 46-year-old man dead.

Police responded to the sound of gunshots in front of 692 Garden Street at 9:37 p.m. on Wednesday and found a 46-year-old Hartford man dead in the roadway. There were signs of head and facial trauma, police said.

The Hartford Police major crimes unit is investigating.

No additional information has been released on the victim.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

2-Alarm Fire in New Haven


There is a two-alarm fire at an apartment on Spring Street in New Haven and the road is blocked off at Howard Avenue.

The fire is at 95 Spring Street.

Check back for updates.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Big Passing Mistakes Can Be Super Costly


Back in January of 1971, the Baltimore Colts pulled off a miracle.

In a game later dubbed by some as the “Blunder Bowl,” the Colts beat the Cowboys 16-13 in Super Bowl V while also committing seven turnovers, the third-highest total in Super Bowl history.

In fact, the game was a monument to mistakes, with both teams combining for 11 turnovers.

But not one of those Colts turnovers was an interception returned for a touchdown. If it had been, Baltimore would have been doomed. In fact, if it happens to either the Seahawks or Patriots Sunday in Super Bowl XLIX in Glendale, Ariz., history says that team also has no chance of winning.

As ESPN.com’s Gregg Easterbrook pointed out this week, teams that have returned interceptions for touchdowns in the 48 previous Super Bowls are 12-0. It all started when Green Bay's Herb Adderley returned an interception 60 yards in the Packers' victory over the Raiders in Super Bowl II.

“Get a pick-six, win the Super Bowl,” he wrote. “It’s pretty much that simple.”

If that’s the case, give the Seahawks the edge going into the 49th Super Bowl.

The Seahawks – who had the No. 1 pass defense in the NFL this season -- have returned three interceptions for touchdowns this season. The Pats have zero. And in their careers, Tom Brady (2) has thrown more pick-sixes than Russell Wilson (1) – though Brady has played 15 seasons and Wilson is in only his third.

Both teams have been very careful with the football this season, however. In the 16 games of the regular season, the Patriots threw nine interceptions; the Seahawks threw just seven. On defense, New England picked off 16 passes, three more than Seattle.

Both head coaches, Pete Carroll of Seattle and Bill Belichick of New England, are defensive-minded coaches who preach the value of takeaways – but also drum it into their offensive units to take care of the football.

So, seemingly, a pick-six in Sunday’s Super Bowl might appear an unlikely prospect. Brady hasn’t won three Super Bowls by making careless mistakes in big games. Wilson, too, has developed a reputation for strong decision-making and winning close games.

Then again, Carroll’s ball-hawking ‘Hawks in practice and games are always out not only to make stops but “Get the Ball!” – one of the coach’s favorite phrases.

Said Carroll of his defensive philosophy with the Seahawks: “The defense can balance out a mistake or two by an offense by taking the football away. So it’s the No. 1 emphasis in the program.”

If the Seahawks do that Sunday, taking a Brady pass all the way back for six points, figure Carroll's bunch will be in line for their second Super Bowl rings.


Photo Credit: Getty Images

Bulldozer at Bridgewater Barn Catches Fire


Firefighters responded to a fire in Bridgewater after a small bulldozer caught fire.

The fire is reported at a barn located at 38 Town Line Road and was out by Thursday afternoon.

There is no structural damage and no injuries are reported.

Several of the responding fire departments are run by volunteers and dispatchers from Danbury said Roxbury, Brookfield and New Milford departments offered mutual aid to Bridgewater.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Ansonia Store Robbed at Gunpoint


Police are searching for the man who robbed an Ansonia convenience store at gunpoint and stole about $600 Saturday evening.

According to police, a masked man dressed in jeans and a dark sweatshirt or jacket entered the GQ Market at 3 Hill Street in Ansonia around 6:15 p.m. Jan. 24 and pointed a handgun at the clerk.

He demanded money from the register and got away with about $600, according to police.

Police are asking for help in identifying the suspect. Anyone with information on the robbery is urged to call Ansonia police Det. Frolish at 203-735-1885.

Photo Credit: Ansonia Police Department

New Canaan Man Sentenced to 13 Years for Ponzi Scheme


A New Canaan investment adviser will spend 13 years in prison for running a massive Ponzi scheme that defrauded clients and companies of up to hundreds of millions of dollars. It’s the largest white-collar prosecution in the state of Connecticut.

Francisco Illarramendi, 45, formerly of New Canaan, was one of three men charged in the scheme and he entered a guilty plea. 

Through Michael Kenwood Group in Stamford, Illarramendi acted as an investment adviser to certain hedge funds.

Things began to go wrong in 2006 when one of the funds lost millions of dollars Illarramendi was investing, officials said. Rather than tell his investors about the losses, Illarramendi concealed the information and misled investors and creditors to prevent the truth about the losses from being discovered.

Between 2006 to February 2011, Illarramendi created fake documents, according to federal officials, used money new investors gave him to pay the returns he promised to earlier investors and agreed to pay kickbacks to persons connected with those transactions, federal officials said.

In 2010, the SEC sought information and documentation from Illarramendi and the MK Group, which he owned, and served a subpoena for records.

On Jan. 14, 2011, the SEC filed a civil action. Then, on March 7, 2011, he pleaded guilty to two counts of wire fraud, one count of securities fraud, one count of investment advisor fraud, and one count of conspiracy to obstruct justice, to obstruct an official proceeding and to defraud the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

“For more than five years, Francisco Illarramendi’s severely misguided attempt to conceal an initial loss of $5 million ballooned into an elaborate fraud scheme that caused investors and creditors to lose hundreds of millions of dollars,” First Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael J. Gustafson said in a statement. “Through it all, he still managed to live well, receiving more than $20 million in personal benefits. I want to thank our partners at the FBI and SEC for unravelling this complex scheme, and acknowledge the efforts of the court-appointed receiver who has recovered more than $300 million that will be distributed to the victims.”

Illarramendi has been in prison since January 25, 2013, after his bond was revoked, in part because he had failed to disclose to the court that he had received and spent a Connecticut state tax refund of more than $630,000 while he was awaiting sentencing.

While the Ponzi scheme might seem small compared to Bernie Madoff's Ponzi scheme that defrauded clients of billions, this was the largest white-collar prosecution for the local U.S. Attorney's Office.

Photo Credit: Getty Images

No Threat Found at Naugatuck High


Police investigated a bomb threat called into Naugatuck High School at 11 a.m. and found no evidence of anything dangerous, polcie said.

The school was placed on “Code Yellow” status, meaning that all students were to stay in place within the building, according to police, but it was lifted after police dogs were brougt in and found no credible theft.

Police will continue to investigate.


Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area
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