State news

School seeks protective order in suit over student expulsion

WEST HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - A private school in Connecticut being sued for allegedly expelling a teenager for his conservative views is seeking a protective order against the teen's family.

Cheshire Academy in West Hartford says Theodore and Sonia Mancini have been improperly contacting students to get discovery for their case involving their 16-year-old son, Michael.

The motion includes screenshots of purported texts of the Mancinis asking students to speak with their attorney.

The attorney tells the Record-Journal there's no rule against the plaintiffs communicating with students. He's filing an objection to the motion.

The Mancinis' say their son was tormented for his views.

They're seeking monetary damages and to have their son readmitted.

A school official said previously the boy wasn't expelled because of his politics, but because of "behavior that violated the school's code of conduct."

Man charged with embezzling from state Senate campaign

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - The former treasurer of a state Senate campaign has been charged with embezzling more than $10,000 in campaign funds.

State prosecutors say 45-year-old William Baker, of Farmington, took the money from the 2014 campaign of Republican Bill Wadsworth, a former state representative who lost that Senate race to Democrat Beth Bye.

The Chief State's Attorney's Office says Wadsworth had limited involvement in the campaign's finances and cooperated in their investigation.

Baker is accused of taking the money for his personal use and filing false reports with the State Elections Enforcement Commission. He is due in Hartford Superior Court on July 25 to face a larceny charge.

Attempts to reach Baker for comment Tuesday were not successful. A phone number listed for him was not in service.


Officials investigating report of alligator in Connecticut

EAST LYME, Conn. (AP) - Connecticut environmental officials are investigating a report that an alligator was spotted near a lake in East Lyme.

The state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection says it received a report that a resident living near Powers Lake spotted a foot-long alligator from a distance.

Conservation police visited the site and interviewed the resident, but officials say they have not confirmed the presence of an alligator.

In 2016, there was a reported sighting of a full-sized alligator on the banks of the Connecticut River in Suffield. That turned out to be a 4-foot long plush toy.

Police release name of teen homicide victim

BRIDGEPORT, Conn. (AP) - Police have released the name of the 17-year-old youth shot to death in Bridgeport last week.

Police on Monday identified the victim of the Friday night shooting as city resident Sean Warren. He was the city's 11th homicide victim this year.

The Connecticut Post reports that Warren was shot in the right side of the chest at about 11 p.m. Friday and died early Saturday at Bridgeport Hospital.

Capt. Brian Fitzgerald said Monday investigators "have interviewed a lot of people and are looking at video from the area" but no arrests were announced.

Police say there were two large parties taking place in the area at the time of the shooting.


State investigating Wally Lamb's inmate writing program

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - Connecticut's Correction Department is investigating an inmate writing program run by author Wally Lamb after a lawsuit was filed this spring by some of the participants.

The inmates say they haven't been paid for their contributions to Lamb's third anthology of writings designed to give female prisoners a public voice.

Chandra Bozelko, of Orange, Connecticut, says she was promised $1,400 for her contributions to the book, which has yet to be published.

Correction spokeswoman Karen Martucci tells the Hartford Courant the writing program has been suspended while the agency ensures writers have consented to having their work shared with the public.

Lamb, whose attorney filed a motion Friday to dismiss the lawsuit, has indicated he plans to end his relationship with the program.

Man convicted in connection with hammer attack gets 1 year

VERNON, Conn. (AP) - A Connecticut man has been sentenced to a year in prison for his role in hammer attack.

The Journal Inquirer reports that Nester Rosa, of Vernon, was sentenced Friday.

He'd previously pleaded guilty to several misdemeanor charges including assault and criminal trespassing.

Police say Rosa and another man joined Gilberto Cordero in entering a home and assaulting a man with a hammer in April 2018.

Rosa and the second man admitted being present during the attack but denied involvement, saying they tried to stop Cordero.

Rosa originally faced up to 25 years in prison for a home invasion charge.

Prosecutor Matthew Gedansky said Rosa earned a lesser sentence through his behavior since then.


Blumenthal says proposed insurance rates are unaffordable

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal says proposed health insurance rate increases in Connecticut are unaffordable.

The Connecticut Democrat says the rates released by the Connecticut Department of Insurance for 2020 on Friday deserve strong scrutiny.

The insurance department says the proposed average individual rate request is a 7.8% increase, compared to 12.3% in 2019. The proposed average small group rate request is a 12% increase, compared to 10.2% in 2019.

The reinstatement of a federally mandated health insurer tax accounts for about 3 percentage points of each carrier's increase request. The department says ongoing rising medical costs are also a key driver.

Blumenthal says Congress must continue working to bring down costs of prescription drugs and medical services.

Fourteen filings were made by 10 health insurers for plans that currently cover 242,000 people.

State college system receives federal apprenticeship funds

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - The Connecticut State Colleges and Universities system has received an $8 million federal grant to develop and expand worker apprenticeships in the advanced manufacturing field.

The funding was awarded by the U.S. Department of Labor. The department is awarding $184 million in grants to 23 private-public apprenticeship programs nationwide, focusing on the key industry sectors of information technology, advanced manufacturing and health care. CSCU was the only recipient of a grant in Connecticut.

CSCU plans to work with employers to establish apprenticeship programs that will lead to employment and advancement opportunities for the unemployed, underemployed and existing workers. Its private sector partners will also provide $2.8 million in matching funds to help develop the apprenticeships.

Officials plan to build upon existing successful programs in the state and create new models.

Historic trolley car to get $50,000 makeover at museum

EAST WINDSOR, Conn. (AP) - Connecticut is planning to spend $50,000 to restore a historic trolley car.

The money is being given to the Connecticut Trolley Museum as a grant from the state Department of Economic Development.

The museum says the car was built in Springfield, Massachusetts in 1922 and used until 1929 on a trolley line that ran from Torrington to Winsted. It was then moved to New Haven, where it operated until 1948.

The museum offered rides on the car at its own track in East Windsor until the 1980s.

Galen Semprebon, the museum's board director and shop manager, tells the Journal Inquirer that work will include repairing the car's steel frame, installing a new floor and roof, restoring interior woodwork, reconditioning electrical and air systems and overhauling the four motors.

Feds: Woman pleads guilty in fraudulent real estate scheme

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) - A Rhode Island woman has pleaded guilty in what federal prosecutors say was a $10.3 million real estate scheme that defrauded investors, including friends and family members.

The U.S. Attorney's office says 44-year-old Monique Brady, of East Greenwich, entered guilty pleas Thursday to charges of wire fraud, aggravated identity theft, and obstructing an IRS investigation.

Prosecutors said Brady told investors her company had contracts for large-scale rehabilitation work on foreclosed properties in Rhode Island, Connecticut, Massachusetts and New Hampshire.

In reality, prosecutors said Brady's firm was often hired by banks for small tasks like mowing grass or changing locks, and did no work on 98 of 171 projects for which she solicited investor funds.

Among those defrauded were childhood friends, a stepbrother and a man with Alzheimer's disease.

Sentencing will be in October.


Corrections agency not commenting on flag suit

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - The Connecticut Department of Corrections is not commenting on a lawsuit brought by a black employee alleging she was suspended without pay for complaining about a Confederate flag.

Carla Moore objected to a corrections officer displaying a Confederate flag in his vehicle in the parking lot of the Corrigan-Radgowski prison in Uncasville.

She alleges in a lawsuit filed Monday in U.S. District Court that she was suspended without pay for one day after telling superiors she felt the flag was becoming a "permanent fixture."

The Department of Corrections says it does not comment on active litigation.


Former trooper faces 8 years for kidnapping, assault

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - A former Connecticut state trooper has pleaded no contest to kidnapping, assault and cruelty charges in the beating of a man who had a touched his girlfriend at a party.

Prosecutors say 32-year-old Rupert Laird, of Manchester, and another trooper, Xavier Cruz, took the victim, Felipe Figueroa-Garcia, to the basement of Cruz's Wethersfield home in February 2017 and assaulted him for hours using a police baton, boots and a cheese grater.

Prosecutors say Figueroa-Garcia told investigators he had touched Laird's girlfriend on the buttocks while flirting with her.

The Hartford Courant reports Laird faces eight years in prison under a plea agreement. Cruz has pleaded guilty as an accessory, and faces up to five years in prison. Sentencing is set for Oct. 2.

Both men were fired from the state police after the incident.

Lamont makes personnel changes 6 months into first term

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont is making some personnel changes, six months into his new administration.

The Democrat announced Wednesday he's appointing Jonathan Harris, a former state senator, West Hartford mayor and gubernatorial candidate, as senior advisor. Harris currently serves as undersecretary of comprehensive planning and intergovernmental policy at the Office of Policy and Management.

In his new job, he'll coordinate legislative, policy and communication functions within the governor's office.

Harris will replace Colleen Flanagan Johnson, who is leaving the governor's office at the end of July to return to work at Cigna insurance company.

Lamont is also naming NBC Connecticut political reporter Max Reiss as his director of communications. Reiss replaces Maribel La Luz, who will become senior advisor for external affairs at the Department of Economic and Community Development.

State to direct money returned from GE sale to housing

BOSTON (AP) - Massachusetts plans to use $86 million it received through the sale of General Electric's Boston headquarters to fund an affordable housing program.

Gov. Charlie Baker's administration announced Tuesday that $60 million will go toward hundreds of new homes for first-time homebuyers with moderate incomes. The remaining funds will be directed toward the creation of 260 new rental units.

GE announced in February that it was downsizing its world headquarters in Boston and would return money that Massachusetts spent as part of an incentives package to lure the company from Connecticut in 2016. The company decided to sell a waterfront parcel it had originally eyed for a 12-story office building.

Baker also continues to seek passage of legislation he says will address a statewide shortage of affordable housing.

Train carrying construction equipment derails

BRISTOL, Conn. (AP) - A train carrying construction equipment and scrap metal has derailed in central Connecticut.

Police in Bristol say at least six cars on the freight train came off the tracks near Riverside Avenue and Mellen Street at about 6 a.m. Wednesday.

There were no reports of injuries and police say no hazardous materials were involved.

Police Lieutenant Geoffrey Lund says most of the rail cars involved had open tops and fell on their left side, dumping at least a portion of their contents.

He says it's not clear how long it might take to clear the tracks.

Emmy-winning actor Rip Torn has died at the age of 88

LOS ANGELES (AP) - Award-winning television, film and theater actor Rip Torn has died at the age of 88, according to his publicist.

Publicist Rick Miramontez says Torn died Tuesday afternoon at his Lakeville, Connecticut home with his wife, Amy Wright, and daughters Katie Torn and Angelica Page by his side. No cause of death was given.

Torn was a free-spirited Texan who overcame his quirky name to become a distinguished actor who won an Emmy late in his career for his comedy turn on TV's "The Larry Sanders Show."

Torn made his film debut in 1956 in an adaptation of Tennessee Williams' "Baby Doll."

Other film credits included "Sweet Bird of Youth," ''Critics Choice" and "The Cincinnati Kid."

His career on stage and screen spanned seven decades, ranging from an early career of dark, threatening roles to iconic comedic performances later in life.

Newman's Own president removed amid misconduct allegations

WESTPORT, Conn. (AP) - The Newman's Own Foundation says it has removed Bob Forrester as its chief executive officer and president amid allegations of inappropriate behavior lodged by employees.

The foundation, in a statement Tuesday, says Forrester was removed by an independent special committee of its board of directors. The group also appointed Jennifer Smith Turner to serve as the foundation's interim president and CEO.

Newman's Own says the action was taken following an independent investigation.

Newman's Own was founded by actor Paul Newman in 1982. Forrester took over after Newman's death in 2008.

The foundation gives all profits from the sale of Newman's Own food products, which have totaled more than $540 million, to charity.

Attempts to reach Forrester Tuesday were not successful. A phone number listed for him was not in service.

Judge clears path for $1B railroad bridge plan

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (AP) - A federal judge has cleared the way for state and federal transportation officials to move forward with a $1.1 billion replacement of a 122-year-old movable railroad bridge in Norwalk.

U.S. District Court Judge Stefan Underhill ruled Monday against opponents who had filed a lawsuit that argued there are cheaper alternatives for replacing the Walk Bridge.

The Norwalk Harbor Keeper and others say that unlike a century ago, few boats with tall masts currently pass in and out of the Norwalk River.

They had suggested replacing the bridge with a fixed bridge that would save taxpayers money and cause less disruption to the environment.

In his ruling, Underhill said the plaintiffs lacked standing to sue. He also found the government made its decision properly after considering other options.

Lamont not giving up on tolls, despite lack of a deal

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont says he's not giving up on a special legislative session to authorize electronic tolls, even though one hasn't been scheduled yet.

The Democrat said Monday his administration is in "active discussions," trying to come up with a plan that will persuade state lawmakers "to show a little courage, stand up, and vote for something that fixes our transportation system."

Lamont met in June with top Democratic and Republican legislative leaders about the need for additional transportation revenue. He acknowledged afterward there was a divide over whether electronic tolls are the solution.

During that meeting, Lamont proposed a small income tax rate cut, something he's still standing by.

Democratic Senate President Martin Looney says there's no guarantee yet that a tolling bill could pass in the General Assembly.

New state working group to study 'forever chemicals'

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - Representatives from various state agencies have been tasked with studying a group of potentially dangerous industrial compounds, dubbed "forever chemicals," and recommending a plan to minimize their impact on Connecticut residents.

Democratic Gov. Ned Lamont announced Monday the working group will present recommendations by Oct. 1 on how to minimize potential releases of PFAS, a class of thousands of chemicals, and exposure to them. The group is also charged with coming up with a strategy to identify, assess and clean up historic releases of PFAS to the environment.

Last month, a toxic firefighting foam containing PFAS, stored at Bradley International Airport, leaked into the Farmington River.

Democratic U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal is also seeking federal legislation to help communities deal with PFAS, which are associated with various health problems.


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