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Connecticut ex-governor convicted of new crimes


NEW HAVEN, Conn. (AP) Former Governro John Rowland, who resigned from office a decade ago in a corruption scandal, was convicted Friday of federal charges that he conspired to hide payment for work on two congressional campaigns.

 

Rowland, once a rising star for the Republican Party, served 10 months in prison for taking illegal gifts while in office and now as a repeat offender faces the possibility of a much stiffer sentence.

 

The government's case centered around a contract between Rowland and a nursing home chain owned by the husband of 2012 congressional candidate Lisa Wilson-Foley. Rowland's attorneys argued he volunteered for the campaign while receiving $35,000 to consult for her husband's company, but prosecutors said the money was an illegal payment for campaign services.

 

Rowland was convicted in New Haven federal court of all seven counts, including conspiracy, falsifying records in a federal investigation, causing false statements to be made to the Federal Election Commission and causing illegal campaign contributions.

 

Rowland was elected to the U.S. House three times, governor three times and served as chairman of the national Republican Governors Association. He had been mentioned as a possible vice presidential candidate or cabinet member before he was impeached and resigned.

 

He was released from prison in 2006 and began rebuilding his life, landing a job as an economic development coordinator before becoming host of a popular radio show. In his first interview after leaving prison, the man known for his charm and quick wit said he had faith God would steer him down a different path.

 

"When you lose your freedom, it's a very humbling experience," he said.

 

But he found himself in the crosshairs of federal investigators once again as he pursued a return to politics.

 

Much of the evidence against Rowland came from email correspondence, such as one in which he wrote to Wilson-Foley's husband, Brian Foley, shortly after proposing he become a paid political consultant for his wife. Foley testified during the trial that Wilson-Foley wanted Rowland's help but for her primary campaign believed his involvement, if made public, would attract negative publicity.

 

"Had a brief chat with Lisa. I get it. Let's you and I meet," Rowland wrote to Foley.

 

In March, the Foleys each pleaded guilty to conspiring to make illegal campaign contributions, a misdemeanor. Brian Foley became the government's star witness, testifying that he paid Rowland for campaign work and the work he did for Foley's company, Apple Health Care Inc., was only cursory.

 

Rowland's lawyers attacked Foley's credibility, showing he illegally funneled hundreds of thousands of dollars to his wife's campaign and could have faced significant prison time if he had not cut a deal. They argue the former governor was unaware of any conspiracy to keep Rowland happy in his campaign work by paying him through Apple.

 

Rowland did not testify in his own defense and his lawyers presented one witness, Apple executive Brian Bedard, who testified that Rowland did real work for him and he did not believe the contract was a sham.

 

Rowland was also accused of trying to cut a similar business deal with another politician.

 

Mark Greenberg, a Republican who is again running for Congress this year, testified that Rowland proposed becoming a consultant to his 2010 campaign while being paid as though he was working for the candidate's animal rescue organization. Greenberg said he turned down the proposal from Rowland. Rowland's lawyers argued that he never ended up working for Greenberg and no crime was committed.

 

Convictions on all the charges carried a possible maximum prison sentence of 57 years.

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Bomb hoax prompts evacuation at WCSU's midtown campus


Western Connecticut State University has reopened four buildings on the midtown campus.  They were evacuated Friday afternoon when University spokesman Paul Steinmetz says an email was sent to their webmaster that said there were bombs in four buildings. 

 

University Hall, the student center, Newbury residence Hall and Haas Library were evacuated and locked down.  State Police were called in and sent police dogs to search the buildings. 

 

Steinmetz says the email had all of the earmarks of a hoax.  He says that's because it came from a suspect email address, TOR.com was the tag.  He was told that it's something criminal elements use.  It's based out of a foreign country and criminals use it to disguise themselves because it's hard to track down the origins.  The FBI, Homeland Security and State Police were all in contact with the University Police Department.

 

Students evacuated from the dorm were sent to Litchfield residence Hall, which is part of the University's emergency plans.  Steinmetz says if had to, they could move everyone over to the west side campus.

 

WCSU sent out a notification through their internal system to all students and staff.

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Annual New Fairfield Day tomorrow


New Fairfield Day is Saturday.  It's a day long celebration that includes everything from Amber Alert registration to firefighter demonstrations and a parade. 

 

First Selectman Susan Chapman says the day is going to start with the naming of a street to honor two local heroes who died in the War on Terror.  The Lion's Club will then hold their make up of the 4th of July Parade, which was cancelled on Independence Day this year.

 

The Boy Scouts will hold a demonstration, the New Fairfield Land Trust will show off their new walking trail and police will have a car seat safety discussion.  There will be a search & rescue dog demonstration, vehicle extrication demonstrations and a fire extinguishing display.

 

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Candlewood Lake Authority looks to launch grass carp program


Danbury has signed on to an effort by the Candlewood Lake Authority to run a grass carp program design to control and manage Eurasian Milfoil.  The CLA is applying to the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection for a grant to pay for half of the program.  Mayor Mark Boughton says the group plans to raise funds from community organizations for the balance.

 

The grass carp program has worked in other water bodies including nearby Ball Pond, Lake George and other water bodies.

 

The CLA hopes to stock grass carp in the lake this spring.  It could also help with a new, similar invasive species that's shown up in the lake, but grows on the top of the lake. 

 

CLA has permission from First Light, the owners of the lake, but they still need a permit from DEEP.

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Nestle Purina expands suit against Blue Buffalo


ST. LOUIS (AP) St. Louis-based Nestle Purina PetCare Co. is expanding its lawsuit against Blue Buffalo Co. to include additional allegations of false advertising.

The two companies sued each other in May. Purina accused its Wilton, Connecticut-based competitor of lying about its use of natural ingredients in dog food. The counterclaim accused Purina of some of the same deceits, as well as defamation.

Late Thursday, Purina expanded its lawsuit. Among other things, it claims that Blue Buffalo lies about the nutritional value of a pet treat product, and about the absorption abilities of one of its cat litters.

Blue Buffalo responded Friday with a written statement that questions the qualifications of a Purina scientific expert and further denies any wrongdoing.

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First Lady introduces new class of student poets


WASHINGTON (AP) Michelle Obama has introduced the newest class of National Student Poets.

The five 15- to 18-year-olds will promote the reading, writing and appreciation of poetry during a year of service as literary ambassadors, particularly among young people.

Each student read original poems for the first lady and guests Thursday at the White House.

Mrs. Obama says the program was created to nurture the passion and creativity of young people while sharing the ``gifts and wonders'' of poetry.

She says Thursday's event celebrates the students' journey through endless drafts and writer's block.

The students are 15-year-old Ashley Gong of Sandy Hook, Connecticut; 16-year-old Weston Clark of Zionsville, Indiana; 18-year-old Madeleine Lecesne of New Orleans; 17-year-old Cameron Messinides (meh-SIN'-neh-dees) of Camden, South Carolina; and 17-year-old Julia Falkner of Louisville, Colorado.

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Woman wanted by Danbury, Weston, Wilton police turns herself in


A 21-year old who turned her self in to police on 7 outstanding warrants has had her court case continued.  Tori Alvarez of Danbury was wanted by police in Wilton, Danbury and Weston on various charges, most of the warrants were about failure to appear in court.  She was arrested August 27th an returned to court Wednesday. 

 

Some of the charges stem from a January 2013 theft from a home.  The woman reportedly had a relationship with someone who lived in the Olmstead Hill Road home and knew it would be empty.  Her case has been continued in Norwalk Superior Court to October 29th. 

 

Alvarez will be in Danbury Superior Court on Monday to answer other charges.

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Funeral service held for Paul Baker


A funeral mass has been held for longtime WLAD broadcaster, Danbury Racearena announcer and author, Paul Baker.  Baker was the morning announcer and sportscaster on WLAD from the station's sign on in 1947 through 1977.  He passed away Saturday at the age of 94. 

 

Baker's two children, Joe and Paula, longtime friend Andy Montanari of Ridgefield and former Danbury High School football coach Gus Edwards delivered eulogies to the standing-room only assembly at St Terea's in Woodbury yesterday.   An avid golfer, Baker was a regular emcee at community events throughout his life.

 

Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton said everyone who grew up attending sports events, listening to the radio or going to the Racearena knew who Paul was.  He said today was like a little bit of Danbury passing, a day of sorrow for his loved ones.  Boughton called him someone who knew how to live life the way we all want to live life, routinely golfing his age through his 80s.

 

WLAD's current General Manager Irv Goldstein, who grew up in Danbury, said school was never really officially canceled on snowy mornings until Paul and Abe announced it on WLAD. 

 

Baker remained active until his last few months through writing, charitable work and his church.

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UPDATED: Danbury police search for bank robber


A bank robbery in Danbury is being investigated.  The Union Savings Bank branch at 226 Main Street was held up shortly before 10:30 this morning.  The suspect was described as a dark skinned male, approximately 5 foot 10 with a husky build.  The suspect was wearing a light hooded sweatshirt and dark colored pants. 

 

 

The man handed the teller a note and left in an unknown direction. No weapon was displayed and the suspect left with an undetermined amount of money.  There were no reported injuries. 

 

Any witness's are asked to contact the Detective Bureau at 203-797-4662.

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Danbury UNIT addresses blighted properties, high grass


The Unified Neighborhood Inspection Team spent time last month dealing with issues of blighted properties that had garbage or debris in the yards, or high grass.  UNIT officials say in most of the cases the homes are vacant and many times, foreclosed.  The UNIT issued several Exterior Blight Orders to property owners for issues ranging from unregistered vehicles to front lawn parking and other violations. 

 

The Department says by addressing these issues, the properties become less of a target for break-ins and criminal mischief. 

 

There were 34 blighted properties addressed, 14 with notices of violation and six cited for illegal apartments/overcrowding and unpermitted construction. 

 

Year to date, UNIT has address more than 600 quality of life issues.

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Bridge replacement project to start in Bethel


A bridge replacement project starts Friday in Bethel.

 

Route 58 will be closed between Hoyts Hill Road and Sara's Way starting on Friday the 19th and continuing through the following Tuesday.  State Department of Transportation officials say the bridge over Putnam Brook will be removed, including the stone masonry culvert.  A precast concrete box culvert will be installed.  New drainage and pavement will also be put in place during the project. 

 

Traffic through Bethel will be detoured from Milwaukee Avenue onto Grassy Plain Street/Redding Road to Hill Road/Lonetown Road and back onto Putnam Park Road.  Detour signs will be put in place.

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Confirmed case of enterovirus D68 in Conn.


Connecticut has one confirmed case, so far, of the enterovirus D68 infection.  The child was recently hospitalized , has since improved and been discharged.  The child was reportedly at at Yale-New Haven Hospital, though health officials haven't officially released that information.  Five hospitals in total, including Danbury Hospital, have sent specimens to the CDC for testing. 

 

Dr Matthew Carter of the Connecticut Department of Public Health says they could hear back as soon as this week, but more likely next week.

 

The virus can cause mild to severe illness, with the worst cases needing life support for breathing difficulties.

 

New York and New Jersey are among the other 16 states with confirmed cases.  Kids with asthma have been especially vulnerable. No deaths have been reported.

 

The strain is not new but only a small number of labs can test for it. Since mid-August, there's been an unusual spike in identified cases.  Investigators say it's not yet clear what triggered the outbreak or whether it's worsening.

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Redding: Town meeting set, fine forgiveness


The Redding Board of Selectmen has set a date for a special town meeting about the ordinance to merge the Housatonic Valley Council of Elected Officials and the South Western Regional Planning Agency into the Western Connecticut Council of Governments.  The Special Town Meeting will be held on October 10th at 7pm in Redding Town Hall. 

 

The state passed an initiative calling for the 13 planning agencies in the state to merge into no more than eight.  Connecticut officials are hoping for more regionalization efforts when it comes to a sharing of equipment and bulk purchasing power to bring the cost of government down.

 

A Fine Forgiveness program is being held by the Mark Twain Library starting today.  In exchange for a non-perishable item, the library will waive 1 dollar of overdue fines, up to a total of 10-dollars.  All of the food that's collected between now and Sunday will go to the Redding Food Bank.  The Food for Fines Program is only for overdue fines and does not apply to lost or damaged items. 

 

The collection basket by will be located by the front desk. 

 

The Redding Pilot reports that the Food Bank is also looking to collect items like paper towels, toilet paper, soap and cleaning supplies.  While boxed items like hot chocolate and cereal are appreciated, the food bank doesn't need pasta or canned soup at this time.

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Police, school administrators attend safety seminar


Redding's police chief is weighing in on a summer program about school safety.

 

Two school principals joined Redding Police Chief Douglas Fuchs at a seminar over the summer in Ridgefield that featured Lt Col Dave Grossman, a former West Point psychology professor and Army Ranger.  Grossman has helped train educators and law enforcement professionals around the country.  A certification session last summer simulated a response to an armed intruder. 

 

Fuchs told Connecticut Town & City this latest seminar along with the district-wide training last summer, confirmed his belief that the only true deterrent at the moment is a police officer in the school building. 

 

Grossman this summer told participants about strategies, mitigating risk, understanding dynamics of juvenile violence, and school violence.

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9/11 NEVER FORGET traveling exhibit in Brewster


The 9/11 NEVER FORGET traveling exhibit is in Brewster this week.  It was created as a learning tool by the Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation, a group started by New Fairfield Selectman John Hodge's family to honor his firefighter cousin who died on 9/11 at the World Trade Center. 

 

The stop was funded by the Brewster Education Foundation.  Brewster High School Principal Dr Joseph Castagnola says they had an interested in bringing this to Brewster since its creation in 2013.  He is the former New Fairfield Superintendent of Schools, and worked with Hodge.

 

Castagnola says his students are visiting during social studies classes while the lower grades are attending with their families.  He says so far, it's been really well received.  Parents of high schoolers who did not want their child touring the exhibit had the option to send back the explanation letter declining the opportunity.  He says the juniors and seriors today were toddlers when 9/11 happened while middle schoolers hadn't been born yet, so it's an important part of history for them to learn.

 

(Photo Courtsey: Tunnel 2 Towers Facebook)

 

Castagnola says meaningful discussions have been started in the classroom through this exhibit.

 

The 53-foot tractor trailer unfolds into an 1,100 square foot space.  The memorial includes live tours from FDNY members.  Artifacts, including steel beams from the towers, documentary videos and audio recordings of first responder radio transmissions are part of the exhibit.  The exhibit is presented with age-appropriate explanations of what happened on 9/11.  

 

The exhibit arrived on Monday and will depart on Thursday.

 

CV Starr Intermediate/JFK Elementary students with parents, district employees and the community can attend at three different times today and tomorrow.  They are today from 2pm to 7pm; tomorrow from 8am to 10am or 2:30pm to 4pm.

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Bethel, Wilton to receive state grants for downtown improvements


Two area towns are receiving grant funding for projects to develop their commercial districts.  In total, 13 municipalities are sharing in the $5 million from the state's Main Street Investment Fund.  The program, run through the Department of Housing provides financial incentives for projects that directly support and enhance a qualified project.  State officials say the funding is an effort to attract small businesses, grow jobs and improve pedestrian access and livability in town centers. 

 

Bethel First Selectman Matt Knickerbocker says the town will be granted more than $290,000.  The project — to include new sidewalks, accessibility ramps, signage, streetscape, and safety improvements — will create a walkable and ADA compliant downtown by improving public safety and pedestrian access, creating a community gathering place, and increasing recreational opportunities.  He says a building facade in one part of town will be fixed.  A new sidewalk will be installed across from the municipal center, where one currently doesn't exist.

 

Knickerbocker credited the town's Economic Development Director, Janice Chrzescijanek, for working with the Land Use and Planning Departments to put together an outstanding application.  Knickerbocker also thanked the Governor's office for supporting Bethel.  He says the economic assistance will put people to work in Bethel and improve the business climate.

 

Wilton plan to use its $425,000 grant toward the Wilton Center Sidewalk Restoration Project.  The upgrades are meant to address various safety concerns related to ADA compliance.  It will help provide public sidewalks within the vehicle travel way.  This project goes hand-in-hand with other completed downtown improvements such as the installation of benches, curbing, decorative street lamps and seasonal flower pots.

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Memorial Sidewalk project launched in Newtown


Memorial Sidewalk has been dedicated in Newtown.  Construction on the sidewalk project connecting Main Street to Church Hill Road in Sandy Hook Village was started on Wednesday.  The Newtown Bee reports that the first phase of construction should be completed within six months.  That part of the project is privately funded with some public funds. 

 

Dr Thomas Draper and his son Joseph were thanked during the dedication ceremony for their work on the project.  They said that after 12-14, the family wanted to create a physical connection between the center of town and Sandy Hook.

 

A retaining wall is planned to run the length of Church Hill Road, with a small green area required by the state to accommodate state snow plows. Most of the section along Church Hill Road is state right of way, so the town will seek easements for construction.

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Brookfield Board of Ethics gets another complaint about First Selectman


Another complaint against the Brookfield First Selectmen will be investigated by the Board of Ethics.  The group will meet on October 7th about a complaint field by Democratic Town Committee chairman Ray DiStephan about expense reimbursements by Bill Tinsley between December 2013 and this March.  The complaint concerned reimbursement for mileage for travel from work to meetings that are part of Tinsley's duties as First Selectmen. 

 

DiStephan's complain says that violates the IRS's rules about work-travel reimbursement. 

 

Tinsley issued a statement saying his predecessors are trying to draw attention away from their roles in financial irregularities and overspending by the schools.  DiStephan is the former chair of the Board of Education.

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Two men arrested for fight at gas station


Two men have been arrested for a fight at a Danbury gas station.  Police were called to the Shell station on Newtown Road Friday night because of the altercation over money.  Police were told by 25-year old Mario Cardenas-Bautista that he an a co-worker agreed to split a bill, but he left before collecting on it. 

 

When the man saw his co-worker at the gas station, he allegedly yelled at the man.  Police say 33-year old Hector Burgos intervened and punched Cardenas-Bautista. 

 

Burgos was charged with assault and breach of peace.  He's being held on $1,500 bond for a September 30th court appearance.  Cardenas-Bautista was charged with breach of peace, disorderly conduct and threatening.  He was released on a written promise to appear in court at a later date.

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DMV evacuated because of smoke from burning t-shirt


The Department of Motor Vehicles building on Lee Mac Avenue in Danbury was briefly evacuated Tuesday afternoon.  The Danbury Fire Department responded to a small fire in an adjoining building.  At the DMV though, someone smelled smoke.  It was likely coming through the ventilation system.  The DMV was evacuated for about 10 minutes shortly after 1pm.  The fire was caused by a t-shirt burning in a dryer.

 

Ice Bucket Challenge COMPLETED!!

Rich Minor accepted the challenge from his friend to donate to the ALS Association AND do the Ice Bucket Challenge.

His "bucket" of choice...well, that's where Westchester Tractor came into play.

Check it out!

 

98Q_Pic_of_the_Week

 

Who's this beautiful hunk of man meat?

It's 32 year old Chris Soules,

a farmer from Iowa and the new Bachelor!

 

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