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Rich Minor in the Morning

State News Stories

Report: Connecticut utilities fended off cyberattacks


HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - A new state report says Connecticut's electric, natural gas and large water companies successfully fought off a growing number of sophisticated cyberattacks last year.

The Connecticut Critical Infrastructure 2018 Annual Report released Tuesday found utilities are spending more time, devoting more resources and educating their workforces to meet the increased level of threats. Electric utility Eversource, for instance, receives about 1 million threats a day from nation states and private actors.

The attacks range from attempting to compromise systems to phishing directed at employees.

Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, who has pushed for stronger cybersecurity measures in Connecticut, notes that challenges still remain and "we must continue to practice diligence."

Four utility companies participated in the security review, conducted by Connecticut's Public Utilities Regulatory Authority. Cable and broadband companies declined.


Lawyer: Evidence could exonerate man in grandfather's death

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) - A lawyer for a Vermont man accused by relatives of killing his millionaire grandfather and his mother to collect inheritance money says there is evidence that could exonerate him in the death of his grandfather.

The Hartford Courant reports attorney David Anderson made the revelation Tuesday during a court hearing in Providence, Rhode Island.

Anderson represents Nathan Carman. The Vernon, Vermont, man denies any involvement in the deaths of his grandfather, John Chakalos, who was fatally shot in Windsor, Connecticut, in 2013, and his mother, Linda Carman, who disappeared at sea in 2016 during a mother-son fishing trip near Rhode Island.

Anderson said there is evidence that Chakalos talked with a woman about money the night he died and that Carman was at his home when his grandfather was killed.

 


Schools locked down while police investigate gun report

EAST GRANBY, Conn. (AP) - Two schools in a Connecticut town were placed on lockdown while police investigated a report that a student had a gun on a bus.

State police say the high school and the middle school in East Granby were locked down Tuesday while troopers searched the high school. The schools are in the same building.

Troopers responded just after 7 a.m. After ensuring all students were secured in classrooms, police conducted a search. They later determined the gun report dated to Friday.

Police say a person of interest was identified, but officials did not say whether a weapon was found and no arrests were announced. The investigation is ongoing.

The lockdown was lifted and school continued as normal.


Close to 200 aerospace workers go on strike

CHESHIRE, Conn. (AP) - Close to 200 aerospace workers in Connecticut have gone on strike against United Technologies Corp.

Workers at UTC Aerospace Systems in Cheshire walked off the job Monday after failing to reach a contract agreement.

The workers say the strike is over pay and increased health insurance costs.

UTC makes equipment including brakes, landing gear and data management systems. Workers in Cheshire say their average hourly pay of $20 is among the lowest among the UTC Aerospace plants.

UTC Aerospace said Monday the company presented a "fair and equitable contract."

The company says the plant will remain open and operate as normal, and it does not expect the strike to affect customers.

The company says negotiations are ongoing, and they are committed to reaching a successful outcome.


Gallery owner gets probation in spoon sculpture case

STAMFORD, Conn. (AP) - A Connecticut art gallery owner arrested for putting a drug spoon sculpture outside a pharmaceutical company's headquarters to protest the opioid crisis has been accepted into a probation program.

A state judge in Stamford approved accelerated rehabilitation Monday for Fernando Alvarez. A misdemeanor charge of obstructing free passage will be erased from his record if he successfully completes a one-year probationary period.

Alvarez and artist Domenic Esposito dropped the 11-foot-long, 4-foot-high steel sculpture in front Purdue Pharma's Stamford offices in June.

The company denies allegations in lawsuits by state and local governments that its marketing of the opioid painkiller OxyContin helped fuel opioid abuse and overdoses.

The sculpture is now in Alvarez's gallery in Stamford as part of an exhibit that he says confronts the culprits of the opioid crisis.

 


New Haven gang shootings lead to racketeering convictions

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (AP) - A man prosecutors say was a member of a Connecticut street gang has pleaded guilty to a federal racketeering charge stemming from an investigation into 40 unsolved shootings.

Milton Westley, of New Haven, faces up to 20 years in prison.

Prosecutors say the 20-year-old Westley was a member of the Goodrich Street Boys gang and admitted his role in two of 18 shootings in and around New Haven linked to the same three guns.

Police say the first shooting, in 2016, occurred because gang members felt they were disrespected on social media. They say Westley recorded himself at the scene and sent the video to other gang members.

Another reputed gang member, 21-year-old Michael Via, pleaded guilty to the same charge in July. Four others are awaiting trial.

 


Officials: Postal worker robbed at gunpoint

CROMWELL, Conn. (AP) Authorities in Connecticut continue to search for a man who they say robbed a U.S. Postal Service worker at a post office.

WVIT-TV reports the robbery happened Sept. 7 at the Cromwell Post Office. Authorities say a U.S. Postal Service Highway Contract Route driver was leaving a vehicle when the suspect showed a firearm and demanded postal property.

Investigators say the worker wasn't hurt during the robbery.

Anyone with information is encouraged to contact the U.S. Postal Inspection Service or the Cromwell Police Department.


Man dies after being pulled from burning home

WEST HAVEN, Conn. (AP) - West Haven officials say a man has died after first responders pulled him from a burning home.

Firefighters responded to the multifamily home Saturday afternoon and found the man unresponsive inside. He was taken to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

The man's name has not been released.

Investigators are trying to determine the cause of the blaze. Officials say it appears the fire began in the basement.

The American Red Cross is helping people displaced by the fire.

Fire officials said families lived on the first and second floors and a man lived in the basement.


Police searches at issue in father killing-cop shooting case

DANIELSON, Conn. (AP) - Police searches have become an issue in the case of a Connecticut man charged with killing his father and living with the corpse for months before shooting a police officer who entered the home during a welfare check in 2013.

Lawyers for Andrew Samuolis, of Willimantic, argue the searches were illegal because no warrants were issued, and any evidence collected should be prohibited from being used at the upcoming trial.

A hearing on the searches is scheduled to resume Monday in Danielson Superior Court.

Police say they entered the Willimantic home legally after seeing a window covered with flies - a sign of a possible dead body inside. Authorities say an officer shot by Samuolis survived.

Samuolis' lawyers plan to pursue an insanity defense to murder and other charges.


Ex-coach charged with sexually assaulting 2 students

NORWICH, Conn. (AP) A former coach at a Connecticut high school has been charged with sexually assaulting two students.

Norwich police on Wednesday charged 25-year-old Anthony Facchini with two counts of second-degree sexual assault. He was held on $75,000 bond and given a Sept. 20 court date.

The alleged crimes occurred in 2017 while Facchini was a coach at Norwich Free Academy.

Police started investigating after a June report to the state Department of Children and Families said Facchini had an ``inappropriate relationship'' with a student. During the investigation police allege they found a second victim.

No information about the students was disclosed.

Facchini, a graduate of the school, was an assistant football and track coach.

 


Elderly woman dies after being struck by car

GLASTONBURY, Conn. (AP) An elderly woman has died after being struck by a car in Glastonbury.

Glastonbury police say the woman was struck Thursday morning outside a home on Oakwood Drive as a car was backing out of a garage.

The woman was taken to a hospital with serious injuries. Police say she later died. Her name has not been released.

Police are looking for any witnesses. Glastonbury police are investigating the cause of the accident.


Connecticut shelter takes in animals ahead of hurricane

EAST HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) A Connecticut shelter is doing its part to help animals as the East Coast prepares for Hurricane Florence.

WFSB-TV reports Pack Leaders Rescue in East Hartford took in about 40 cats from the Grand Strand Humane Society in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.

Pack Leaders Rescue co-founder Tori Cateni says the shelter had over 100 cats they were trying to place. Volunteers dropped some cats off in New York before connecting with the Pack Leaders Rescue.

Cateni says the facility has found foster homes for all the cats. The animals are vetted and have micro-chips.

Cateni says the center still needs donations to help fund vetting. Anyone interested in helping can find more information at www.packleadersrescue.com.

 


Police: Cop stole from department, gave items to suspect

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - A Hartford police sergeant charged with stealing department equipment and giving it to a suspected drug dealer will remain held on $175,000 bail.

Sgt. Justin Torniero, who has been suspended since December for allegedly using a police vehicle without authorization, was charged Tuesday with multiple counts of larceny. He's also accused of using cocaine and alcohol while in uniform.

On Wednesday, a judge declined to lower Torniero's bail.

The Hartford Courant reports that Torniero's public defender, Brian Pear, asked that his client be released from custody, citing his strong ties to the community.

A prosecutor said the officer's arrest eroded public trust in the police department.

Authorities say Torniero stole a department ballistic vest and mountain bicycle, which were later found in the suspected drug dealer's Farmington home.


States urge appeal hearing in case of Kennedy cousin Skakel

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - Eleven states are asking the U.S. Supreme Court to hear Connecticut's appeal in Kennedy cousin Michael Skakel's murder case and reinstate his conviction.

The states filed a friend-of-the-court brief on Monday. The court is deciding whether to take up the appeal.

The Connecticut Supreme Court in May vacated Skakel's conviction in the bludgeoning death of Martha Moxley in their wealthy Greenwich neighborhood in 1975, when they were teenagers. The 4-3 majority said Skakel's trial lawyer failed to contact an alibi witness.

Connecticut prosecutors argue the court didn't properly weigh the overall performance of Skakel's defense.

The states say a ruling in Connecticut's favor is needed to thwart excessive challenges of defense lawyers' performance.

The states are Alaska, Arizona, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Maryland, Nebraska, North Carolina, South Carolina, Texas and Utah.


Police: White powder found at synagogue

MIDDLETOWN, Conn. (AP) Police in Connecticut are investigating white powder that was found at a synagogue.

WFSB-TV reports a letter containing powder was discovered Wednesday at Congregation Adath Israel in Middletown. Middletown Mayor Dan Drew says the community isn't in danger.

Police believe the incident may be related to suspicious packages that were found at four downtown Hartford buildings last week. The structures included a state government building, two office buildings and the federal courthouse. No injuries were reported and at least two packages appeared to contain baby powder.

Prosecutors say 51-year-old Gary Gravelle is being investigated in connection with the Hartford threats. Gravelle was charged with violating the terms of his release from federal prison in 2015.


State says employees participated in pharmacy pyramid scheme

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) The state of Connecticut has filed a lawsuit alleging about a dozen current and retired state employees participated in an illegal pyramid scheme with a Florida-based pharmacy.

Attorney General George Jepsen's office says the company, Assured Rx, and the workers in 2014 and 2015 defrauded the state's Pharmacy Benefit Plan out of $10.9 million by filing false claims for expensive compound medications.

The lawsuit alleges the employees received prescriptions for compounds made by Assured Rx and were paid kickbacks from the company after the state paid for the drugs.

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy called the allegations deeply disturbing.

 


Connecticut zoo welcomes a baby giant anteater

BRIDGEPORT, Conn. (AP) Connecticut's only zoo has announced the birth of a baby giant anteater.

The Beardsley Zoo in Bridgeport says the baby was born on July 30, is a male, and now weighs 9 pounds.

The parents, father EO and mother Pana, were brought to the zoo in 2015, with the hopes they might start a family.

They had their first baby in 2016. That anteater, Mochilla, is now in residence at Alexandria Zoo in Louisiana.

The zoo says the mother and baby are in seclusion most of the day, with brief forays into the outdoor habitat. Female anteaters give birth to one offspring at a time and the baby rides on the mother's back for the first several months of life.


Police investigate tire, rim thefts in region

BRISTOL, Conn. (AP) Police departments in Connecticut are collaborating to investigate recent tire and rim thefts.

WFSB-TV reports Bristol Police Chief Brian Gould said Tuesday during a City Council meeting that there have been 24 reported thefts in Bristol since April. Gould says the tire and rim thefts are a regional issue.

According to Gould, vehicles that are targeted include Acura, Audi, Mercedes and Infiniti cars. He says the thefts have been mostly in residential neighborhoods and apartment complexes.

Bristol police are analyzing data and sharing information with other departments.

Gould says drivers should make sure they lock their car doors, park in well-lit areas and activate security systems in their vehicles.

Anyone with information on the thefts is asked to contact the Bristol Police Department.

 


Man charged in woman's death in Middletown

MIDDLETOWN, Conn. (AP) - Authorities say a 34-year-old man has been charged with murder in the death of a woman whose body was found in Middletown.

Police said Monday that Cornel Myers of Middletown has been charged with murder, burglary and trespassing.

The body was discovered Saturday in the Westlake area of the city. Police say the cause of death was determined to be a homicide.

Police say Myers was found at the scene where the body was found. Police say police had previously order him to not return to the home.

Myers was held on $3 million bond. It wasn't immediately clear Monday whether he has an attorney.

Authorities are withholding the name of the victim and have sealed Myers' arrest warrant.


Police investigate stabbing death of Connecticut teen

ENFIELD, Conn. (AP) - Police say a 16-year-old boy has been stabbed to death in Connecticut.

Enfield police say Justin Brady was stabbed in the front yard of a home in town just after midnight Monday. He did not live at the home.

Chief Alaric Fox tells the Journal Inquirer that police are actively looking for someone in connection with the death but did not release a name.

Fox said Brady and the other person knew each other.

He called the stabbing "isolated" and said there are no threats to the school or any other students.

Mayor Michael Ludwick called the death "just awful."

Enfield High School's official Twitter account said additional counseling staff will be available.


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