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2 Arrested in 2011 Hartford Murder


Two Hartford residents have been charged with murder in the shooting death of a 24-year-old Windsor Man in 2011.

Jimel Frank, 27, and Karyl Roye, 24, were arrested on federal charges Thursday. They're accused of shooting and killing Anthony Parker, 24, of Windsor, while he was sitting in car parked on Thomaston Street in Hartford in April 2011.

Parker was found alive but pronounced dead at Saint Francis Hospital, according to police.

Frank and Roy were each charged with engaging in – and conspiring to engage in – a violent crime in the aid of racketeering in connection with Parker's murder, federal prosecutors said.

They could each face life in prison if convicted.

The arrest stems from a joint investigation into drug trafficking and violence on the part of the WestHell and Team Grease gangs, according to the U.S. attorney's office.

Photo Credit: Nader Abu Rabei, NBC Connecticut

Shelton Carbon Monoxide Call Was False Alarm


Firefighters investigating the report of a carbon monoxide emergency in Shelton determined the incident to be a false alarm, according to the Echo Hose Fire Company.

Echo Hose dispatchers said firefighters were called to 175 Myrtle Street in Shelton shortly after 7:30 p.m. They checked the building and determined there was no leak. No one was hurt.

Photo Credit: Google Maps

Crash Snarls Traffic Near Westfarms Mall


Traffic is backed up on New Britain Avenue in West Hartford near while emergency crews respond to a crash at the entrance to the Sears plaza near Westfarms Mall.

Police said the crash was reported around 6:45 p.m. at the intersection of New Britain Avenue and Ridgewood Road. There has been no word on injuries.

No additional information was immediately available.

Check back for updates on this developing story.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Towns Could Be on Hook for Resident Trooper Costs


Towns across Connecticut received mainly good news from Gov. Dannel Malloy's biennial budget, which included flat funding for municipalities.

However, included in about $600 million in cuts is a change in the cost-sharing for resident state troopers, which contribute to law enforcement in about 40 towns.

"We actually hoped this year the state would take back some of the costs, but they went the other way," said Brooklyn First Selectman Rick Ives.

Brooklyn received its first resident trooper in 1993 at a cost of about $30,000 per year. Ten years ago, the town got its second trooper, leading to increased costs but increased coverage as well. In 2016, the cost of two troopers will be about $325,000, according to the governor's budget.

The state covered 30 percent of the cost in recent years, while 70 percent is covered by the town. Ives said that losing a trooper could mean a gap during certain parts of the day.

"It’s really been good to have 12 hour of the day or at some points, 18 hours of the day covered," Ives said.

State Sen. Beth Bye, who chairs the Appropriations Committee in the Connecticut General Assembly, said she and others will examine all of the governor's proposals carefully.

“In these tough times, we’ve got to spend our dollars smartly and we need to make sure we’re funding things fairly," said Bye, a Democrat who represents West Hartford.

Ives said starting a police department in Brooklyn wouldn't be feasible given current budget conditions. He added that troopers themselves are more than just law enforcement, they're members of the community who contribute in myriad ways.

"They help out at events. They really become a part of the community and that’s really what this neighborhood policing is about," he said.

Video Shows Doggy Van Not Stolen


A new surveillance video of a doggy day care van, that the driver said was hijacked by an armed robber Wednesday, shows the vehicle was not hijacked at all —it was taken while left running and unattended with the doors unlocked.

The search for the dogs began Wednesday afternoon when Joseph Giannini, the owner of Urban Out Sitters, said one of his drivers was ordered out of the silver 2002 Chrysler Town and Country van by two armed men while they prepared to transport the dogs.

The video released by the Chicago Police department Thursday showed two men approach the idle minivan at approximately 3:45 p.m. Wednesday.

Shortly after they took the vehicle and drove off, a witness tried to intervene, at which time one of the offenders drew a gun and pointed it at him, according to police.

Several dogs were inside the minivan when it was taken.

Chicago police found the missing vehicle Thursday on the 2100 block of South Wabash Street, on Chicago's Near South Side. All of the dogs were found alive inside the vehicle and were being reunited with their owners by midday.

The investigation into the incident is ongoing. There are no suspects in custody, according to police.

Parents Push to Save Shuttered Catholic School


Instead of coming to terms with the fact that in a few months, their children's Catholic school will close for good, some parents are fighting the decision to shutter St. John Paul II School in New Britain and brainstorming ways to keep it alive.

"Unfortunately over the past six years, $1.5 million has been given to the school for financial aid, and there's no more dollars available," said Superintendent of Catholic Schools Dr. Dale Hoyt.

The Archdiocese of Hartford announced the decision last week, and parents crowded into a closed-door meeting at the school Thursday night to explore their options.

John Gouveia said St. John Paul II School has not only provided his two young boys with a solid education but also a tight-knit community.

"The boys grew up here. They have very, very close and good friends here," said Gouveia. "It's a sad state of affairs. I kind of believe we've been abandoned by the archdiocese."

A GoFundMe page cropped up shortly after the announcement and fundraisers are in the works to pay off the school's $320,000 in debt, but Hoyt said it's still not enough.

"It guarantees no future because what about next year? What about the dollars for next year? Tuition really does not cover the cost of educating a child in a Catholic school," said Hoyt.

While some parents said they at least have to try, others, like Gouveia, doubt the money will do much to help students.

"Part of me feels like we're just going to help them pay off their debt that they've accumulated over six-and-a-half years through poor management of funds," he said.

In that time, the school's enrollment has dropped from 230 to 155. Hoyt said fewer students – and funds – left the pastor with no choice, but added that he hopes parents will consider transferring to one of their other Catholic schools.

"We have a history of excellence, and we have a future of excellence," said Hoyt.

Those who do will receive a $500 credit toward tuition for the coming school year, and students who transfer to Sacred Heart School will receive an additional $500.

Gouveia said he's done with the system and plans to try the public school system, but not in New Britain.

"We'll probably end up moving, and we have a bit of flexibility. So we're looking for other homes," he said.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Drones to Inspect Snowy Mass. Roofs


One Massachusetts town has a new tool in its fight against the risk of snow-covered roof collapses: drones.

The snow-weary city of Somerville has hired a local aerial photography firm to fly its drones high above the city to shoot video of municipal buildings' roofs, so the city will know which need to be cleared.

Dan Hadley, chief of staff to the mayor's office, explained to NBC News that the drones' footage-gathering missions would "promote public safety."

The company the city has hired, Above Summit, says its drones are operated via transmitter remote and can get within 10 feet of their subject matter. Its smallest drones use GoPro camera rigs for full HD footage, while its largest drones carry cameras that can record professional-quality video.

"This is the easiest, quickest way we could possibly inspect them," Hadley told the Boston Globe of the plan. "As long as we are keeping safety concerns in mind, it's the perfect use of technology for government."

The drone-hiring plan is just the latest effort to clear the snow in Somerville. Earlier this month, the city cracked down on homeowners and businesses who didn't shovel promptly.

Alderman Jack Connolly says inspectors are handing out brightly-colored citations he likes to call "Scarlet Letters" so neighbors know who’s being held accountable.

Photo Credit: necn

Hospital Device Spreads "Superbug"


A bacterial "superbug" linked to two deaths and several infections at Ronald Reagan-UCLA Medical Center was transmitted from patient to patient by a medical device, health officials said Thursday.

There may also be more infections, authorities said.

Almost 180 patients at Ronald Reagan-UCLA Medical Center have been notified that they may have been exposed to the bacteria, Enterobacteriaceae (CRE), between October 2014 and January 2015.

The devices, called duodenoscopes, are used for diagnosing and treating certain problems of the biliary or pancreatic systems, and were known for needing rigorous disinfection. They are used in an estimated 500,000 procedures each year.

The Food and Drug Administration also issued a new warning, saying that the design of the minimally invasive device can harbor the dangerous bacteria, even if the manufacturer's detailed cleaning instructions are followed correctly.

"Meticulously cleaning duodenoscopes prior to high-level disinfection should reduce the risk of transmitting infection, but may not entirely eliminate it," said the warning, released Thursday morning.

About 135 patients across the U.S. may have been exposed to bacteria transmitted with the devices in 2013 and 2014, according to 75 reports delivered to the FDA.

The FDA recommended that doctors inform patients of the risks of using ERCP endoscopes before a procedure, and afterwards telling them what symptoms to look for that could indicate a CRE infection.

UCLA has called each of the 179 patients who may have been exposed to to CRE, hospital officials said. The  hospital's two duodenoscopes that may have been infected are no longer being used.

Photo Credit: Courtesy FDA

Crews Brave "Extremely Dangerous Conditions" at Southport Fire


Firefighters battled both heavy flames and extreme cold at a home in Southport Thursday evening, according to the Fairfield Fire Department.

Crews from Fairfield, Bridgeport, Westport and Easton were called to 33 Chester Place around 5:30 p.m. after a neighbor spotted flames coming from the roof, firefighters said.

Everyone made it out safely, but frozen hoses and ladders posed a constant problem, according to the Fairfield Fire Department. Firefighters worked on rotations to avoid exposure to the elements.

"Freezing temperatures and wind chills encountered by crews battling the fire created extremely dangerous conditions, but thanks to their professionalism and diligence no serious injuries were sustained by fire personnel," Fairfield Assistant Fire Chief George Gomola said in a statement Thursday night.

They kept fire damage to a minimum, but smoke and water seeped into the rooms below the origin of the flames, according to the Fairfield Fire Department. A fire marshal took control of the scene around 9 p.m. and Fairfield crews stayed to help investigate.

Photo Credit: Fairfield Fire Department

State Senator Tackles Topic of Hoarding


Eight months after a Cheshire resident died when her cluttered house collapsed, state lawmakers are pushing to create a task force that would help address hoarding problems before it’s too late.

It was a house neighbors couldn’t ignore, and in June, when the body of 66-year-old Beverly Mitchell was found buried in her basement, it was a scene they couldn’t forget.

“Everyone here knew something was wrong. Various people made offers about helping clean things up or shovel stuff in the winter, helping her with different things, and it was always turned away,” explained Cheshire resident Heidi Standlow.

The incident is one of several things that prompted State Sen. Paul Doyle to introduce public health and safety procedures in what’s formally known as Senate Bill 18. Doyle went before the Public Safety and Security Committee to address the dangers of hoarding Thursday night.

“Today there is not really a comprehensive approach by our municipalities. Right now it’s kind of haphazard,” Doyle said. “It’s an issue that really is statewide. Someone on your street you may not be aware of it, but many people have this mental illness.”

Doyle said the bill would rally mental health and public officials, as well as law enforcement personnel, to work together toward a solution. He said the ultimate goal is to create a task force that will examine every aspect of hoarding, from mental health to residents’ rights on their own property.

No Injuries Reported in Stafford Springs School Bus Crash


A school bus has been involved in a crash at the corner of County Road and Furnace Avenue in Stafford Springs, but no injuries are reported.

The school bus full of children and a car collided at 8:10 a.m., according to state police.

Police are investigating and no further information was immediately available.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock

New Haven Bridge Removal Affects Traffic


Work is underway to remove the bridge over Water Street in New Haven and that will lead to road closures and detours over the weekend.

Officials from the state Department of Transportation said has to come down because it's not in use, so from 9 a.m. on Friday to 6 p.m. on Saturday, the Trumbull Street onramp to Interstate 91 south will be closed, and drivers will be sent to State Street and north to the Willow Street entrance of I-91 South.

From 9 p.m. on Friday through 6 p.m. on Saturday, the right lane of I-91 South will be closed between the exit 4 off-ramp to State Street and the off-ramp to I-95. The I-91 South off-ramp to Route 34 West will also be closed.

The bridge removal work will also be local road closures.

Local streets will also be shut down, including Water Street, which will be closed between Brewery and East streets from 9 p.m. on Friday through 6 p.m. on Saturday.

Franklin Street will be closed between Chestnut and Water streets, with no through-traffic to Water Street for the same time span.

The right lane of I-91 south will also be closed between exit 4 and the off-ramp to I-95 southbound from 9 p.m. on Friday to 6 a.m. on Monday.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Crews Respond to Fire in Wallingford


Crews are responding to a fire on Constitution Street in Wallingford.

No other info is being released.

An NBC Connecticut crew is heading to the scene. More information will be posted when it becomes available.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Manchester Man Hospitalized After House Fire


A 25-year-old man has been taken to the hospital to be treated for smoke inhalation after a fire at his home on Theresa Road in Manchester on Friday morning.

The fire department was sent to the two-story home at 61 Theresa Road at 9:41 a.m. and the home owner, Joseph Ventura, told authorities he heard an explosion in the basement and found heavy smoke in the two-car garage.

When firefighters arrived, they found Ventura in his driveway, on his hands and knees. He was transported to Manchester Memorial Hospital and said his injuries are not life-threatening.

Two cats in the home were rescued and will need to be evaluated by a veterinarian.

An investigation into the cause of the fire is underway, but the home has been deemed uninhabitable.

Fire officials said the homeowner had trouble getting out of his home because of the snow in front of the door and high snow banks, as well as a -10 degree wind chill factor hampered operation.

Ventura and the cats are recovering, officials said. A second resident was not home at the time of the fire.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Drunken Driver Was 4 Times Over Legal Limit: Police


A 55-year-old Ellington man’s blood alcohol limit was four times the legal limit when he went off the road and hit a tree in January, according to police.

Robert King was driving on Ellington Road, also known as Route 74, in South Windsor near the Ellington town line on Jan. 14 when his car went off the road, hit a road sign, a utility pole and a tree, police said.

King was transported to a local hospital to be evaluated and officers from the traffic unit obtained his medical records, which showed a blood alcohol concentration of .36 at the time of the crash, which is four times the legal limit.

Police obtained an arrest warrant charging King with operating a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol and failure to drive in a proper lane. It was served on Thursday.

King was released on a $2,500 surety bond and is scheduled to appear at Manchester Superior Court on March 2.


Photo Credit: South Windsor

School Bus Involved in Crash in Hartford


A high school student was taken to the hospital to be evaluated after a school bus and a garbage truck collided at Farmington and Girard avenues in Hartford on Friday morning.

School officials said one special education student was on the bus, which was stopped, when a Hartford city garbage vehicle tried to pass the bus slowly.

However, the lane was too narrow and the garbage vehicle "tapped" the bus.

One student was on the bus and the teen's parents asked that he be taken to the hospital and checked out as a precaution.

The bus is back in service.

Photo Credit: Getty Images

Subzero Temperatures Prompt Some School Delays


Some schools are delayed this morning because of the extreme cold, which is not going anywhere for a couple of days. We'll see two more nights of subzero temperatures and brutal wind chills before more snow moves in on Saturday, followed by sleet and freezing rain later in the weekend.

Expect temperatures between -5 and 5 degrees today, with winds of 10-15 mph.

Friday will be sunny but very cold.

Wind chills could feel as cold as about -20 degrees through the morning, according to Chief First Alert Meteorologist Brad Field.

Snow will move in on Saturday afternoon and continue through the night, blanketing the state with 2 to 4 inches before turning to sleet and freezing rain overnight and into Sunday morning.

Rain is possible south of the Interstate 84 corridor and the storm will move out on Sunday morning.

We're also keeping an eye on a major storm threat that could bring more snow midweek.

Stay up to date with the latest forecast by downloading our weather app and send your snow, cold selfie or summer vacation photos to shareit@nbcconnecticut.com.

Water Main Break in West Hartford


There is a water main break at 53 Ballard Drive in West Hartford.

Police have responded to the scene.

No additional information is available.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com

Frozen Falls, Snow Drones and More From the "Siberian Express"


The so-called "Siberian Express" has blasted the eastern United States with snow and low temperatures that have shattered records and turned landmarks like the Niagara Falls into an icy wonderland.

Here are dramatic visuals and even some odd stories like the "Loo-cy" toilet plow that we've come across amid the extreme cold.

One Massachusetts town, Somerville, hired a company to shoot video from drones high above the city. The footage will be used to help clear snow from roofs that could be in danger of collapsing. 

In Rockville, Maryland, a man attached a plow to a motorized toilet to help clear snow.

One of the most dramatic visuals from the storm has been a geyser at Letchworth State Park in upstate that has frozen over. It has become a five-story tall "ice volcano."

How long would you guess it takes to freeze a T-shirt in freezing temperatures? 

Here's a look at other dramatic images of extreme weather since the year began.

Photo Credit: AP
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Ex-Finance Director Pleads Guilty in Embezzling, Doll Collection Case


The former finance director for Plymouth, Connecticut has pleaded guilty to embezzling hundreds of thousands of dollars from the town, much of which officials said he used to buy designer purses and doll collections. 

David J. Bertnagel, 41, of Thomaston was arrested at his home in January and pleaded guilty on Friday to federal theft and tax charges.

He has also agreed to pay $808,029.94 in restitution to Plymouth, to forfeit more than $45,000 that he held in bank accounts, as well as jewelry, stamps, coins and other collectibles that were seized on the date of his arrest.

He must also cooperate with the IRS to pay outstanding taxes, penalties and interest.

Officials said Bertnagel embezzled $808,030 from the town and federal court records document how the money was used. They said it went toward build something akin to a museum in his home, which was filled with Hummel figurines, Annalee dolls, coins, stamps, Coach purses and more.

By Bertnagel failing to report the embezzled income, the government lost $145,564 in taxes over two years, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.

Federal officials also said Bertnagel failed to file a tax return in 2011.

Bertnagel worked as the town finance director from July 2014 until Oct. 31, 2014, when he was suspended after town officials discovered "improprieties" in the finance department.

Prior to becoming the finance director, Bertnagel, worked in the department for around six years as a part-time employee. According to the court paperwork, he is accused of exploiting a weakness in the payroll software program that allowed him to manually create batches of checks, print them and delete any record of them from the system.

When questioned about the funds on Nov. 10, he admitted to issuing “non-salary payments” from the town to himself, the complaint says.

He claimed he’d reached an agreement with town officials, allowing him to withdrawing money early from his pension account, but the former mayor denied any agreement ever existed, the complaint says.

At first, Bertnagel said he could not find a copy of the contract and said he spent around half the money on stamp and coin collections, as well as normal household expenses. The other half was in cash or marketable securities, he said, but a review of Bertnagel’s assets showed that much less – around $100,000 – was available.

In all, Bertnagel is accused of issuing 207 checks to himself from October 2011 through October 2014, and spending $101,890 to pay down a mortgage and two lines of credit secured to his home; $136,700 for home repairs, improvements and renovations; $149,188 on credit card expenses; $124,279 to retailers specializing in collectible items, including coins, stamps Hummel figurines and Annalee dolls; $8,850 to four brokerage firms for stocks and more.

When investigators questioned one of Bertnagel’s friends, she described the house Bertnagel shares with his mother as a “museum” full of collections.

Inside the house, she said, there were more than 200 Coach purses, several Hummel figurines and dolls in a large room on the first floor of the house.

The friend also said one room of the house is dedicated to stamp and coin collections and Bertnagel also has a collection of antique clocks and original artwork depicting the town of Thomaston.

Bertnagel eventually did present a copy of what he claimed was a contract to make early withdrawals from a pension account, but federal investigators determined that it was fake and Bertnagel had likely used an electronic signing machine to add one of the signatures, the complaint says.

Bertnagel pleaded guilty to one count of theft from a local government receiving federal funds, which carries a maximum term of imprisonment of 10 years, and one count making and subscribing a false tax return, which carries a maximum term of imprisonment of three years. 

He is scheduled to be sentenced on May 15.

Photo Credit: New Britain Herald/Bristol Press and NBCConnecticut.com
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