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A New Milford man has pleaded guilty to a federal extortion charge.  45-year old Howard Hammer entered the plea Friday.  The U.S. Attorney's Office says a loan shark lent an individual $1,500, which had to be paid back with $500 in interest within 4 days.  When the individual failed to pay the loan within four days, the loan shark asked Hammer to collect on the loan. 

 

Hammer admitted to sending text messages to the victim threatening to harm the victim if he failed to pay his debt.  He then took screen shots of the threatening text messages and forwarded them to the loan shark.  Hammer and the loan shark also discussed taking the victim’s car either as payment for the debt or as punishment for failure to pay the debt. 

 

Authorities say the victim suffered permanent bodily injury on January 25th in connection with this conduct.  The U.S. Attorney's office did not elaborate on what this part of the case. 

 

Hammer has been detained since his arrest in May.  Sentencing is set for February 24th.

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This year's annual Sandy Hook Tree Lighting ceremony will be a little different.  The Newtown Bee reports that instead of a pair of trees being lit, only one will.  The tree in The Glen, has been lit by Sandy Hook Organization for Prosperity for the past six years.  But the Newtown Public Works Department said they would not be able to use bucket trucks to string the lights because the tree has grown too close to power lines.  They can't get within 10 feet of wires.  

 

The tree at 2 Washington Avenue, in Sandy Hook's business center, has been lit for the past three years and will be the focus of tonight's ceremony. 

 

The Bee reports that SHOP has asked attendees to bring donations for FAITH Food Pantry in exchange for a chance to light the Glen tree, but a family in Sandy Hook had already been chosen to light the other tree.  The random winner will join the family in lighting the other tree. 

 

The 16th Annual Sandy Hook Tree Lighting begins at 4pm, with the actual lighting taking place at 6pm.

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State Police have released the name of the woman seriously injured in a rollover accident that happened after an off-duty Danbury police officer engaged the driver in pursuit.  Police say 26-year old Tiffany Fitzgerald was ejected from the SUV in the crash and transported to the hospital for treatment. 

 

State Police say 32-year old Ricardo Andre of Danbury was wearing a seatbelt and able to extricate himself from the vehicle after the rollover.  He was also transported to Danbury Hospital with suspected serious injury. 

 

The car hit a sign, a utility pole and a support cable before rolling over. 

 

The 1997 Ford Explorer had been previously reported stolen to the Danbury Police Department.  An off-duty Danbury Police officer, working a private security job, recognized the vehicle.  Danbury Police Spokesman Lt. Christian Carroccio says the officer confronted the driver around 10:30am on Center Street, but the driver took off.  The Officer pursued the stolen car in his personal vehicle and called in to dispatch.  The other driver lost control around a curve on Mountainville Road a short time later. 

 

At the request of the Danbury State's Attorney's Office, State Police Collision Analysis and Reconstruction Squad assumed investigative responsibility for the collision.  The accident remains under investigation.

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Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton has hired a Georgia woman to oversee fundraising operations for his statewide campaign.  Boughton formed an exploratory committee last month and announced Wednesday that he has hired Lindsay Jacobs as finance director.  He says Jacobs' track record and experience are unparalleled. 

 

Boughton says in order to effectively communicate his message across the state, he is  building a strong team at every level. 

 

He fell short in his fundraising during a 2014 gubernatorial run in order to qualify for the state's Citizens Election Program.  Boughton would have needed $250,000 in small donations to receive millions in public financing. 

 

Jacobs said she is excited to join Boughton and the Connecticut Comeback Committee.  She said in a statement that during his tenure as mayor, Danbury has not only become Connecticut's safest city, but also its best place to start a business and create jobs.

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The Bureau of Prisons will resume housing female inmates at its facility in Danbury this month, making it easier for female inmates from the Northeast to remain in contact with their families.  The Department of Justice made the announcement in a report released Wednesday about a series of reforms at the Federal Bureau of Prisons designed to reduce recidivism and increase the likelihood of inmates’ safe and successful return to the community.  

 

FCI Danbury will house the Bureau's first-ever integrated treatment facility for female inmates, which will feature a mental health unit and a women’s Residential Drug Abuse Program, the agency’s most intensive substance abuse treatment course.

 

Attorney General Loretta Lynch said in a statement that these critical reforms will help give federal inmates the tools and assistance they need to successfully return home as productive, law-abiding members of society.

 

Last year, with the department’s support, BOP retained outside consultants to review the agency’s operations and recommend changes designed to reduce the likelihood of inmates re-offending after their release from prison.

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The National Transportation Safety Board has released a new report about the small plane that crashed in North Salem last November killing two Danbury restaurant owners. 

 

The information issued this week included a toxicology report which determined that pilot Val Horsa and passenger Taew Robinson tested negative for the presence of volatiles or drugs for all of the submitted samples.  The NTSB concluded that the accident was a result of loss of control in flight, not mechanical deficiencies. 

 

The plane was en route to Danbury Municipal Airport when it crashed into a reservoir less than 10 miles away.  90-percent of the wreckage was recovered , with the landing gear was in the up/locked position. 

 

The South Salem couple owned Bangkok Restaurant.

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A motorcyclist was killed in a head on collision in New Fairfield yesterday afternoon.  State Police say the motorcyclist was headed northbound on Route 39 in the area of Old Shortwoods Road when they crossed the double yellow lines into oncoming traffic. 

 

A Kia driver headed southbound was unable to avoid the collision. 

 

The motorcyclist was ejected from the bike and was transported to Danbury Hospital where they were later pronounced dead.  The name of the motorcyclist has not yet been released. 

 

The driver of the car, 21-year old Alyssa Rabuse of New Fairfield, was treated at the hospital for minor injuries. 

 

Both vehicles sustained moderate damage and were towed from the scene.  The accident remains under investigation.  Anyone with information on the crash is asked to contact the New Fairfield Resident Troopers Office.

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State Police have identified the driver involved in a rollover accident in Danbury that happened after an off-duty Danbury police officer engaged the man in pursuit.  State Police say 32-year old Ricardo Andre of Danbury was wearing a seatbelt and able to extricate himself from the vehicle after the rollover. 

 

His passenger, a woman whose name has not yet been released, was not wearing a seatbelt and ejected from the vehicle.  Both were transported to Danbury Hospital with suspected serious injury. 

 

The car hit a sign, a utility pole and a support cable before rolling over. 

 

The 1997 Ford Explorer had been previously reported stolen to the Danbury Police Department.  An off-duty Danbury Police officer, working a private security job, recognized the vehicle.  Danbury Police Spokesman Lt. Christian Carroccio says the officer confronted the driver around 10:30am on Center Street, but the driver took off.  The Officer pursued the stolen car in his personal vehicle and called in to dispatch.  The other driver lost control around a curve on Mountainville Road a short time later. 

 

At the request of the Danbury State's Attorney's Office, State Police Collision Analysis and Reconstruction Squad assumed investigative responsibility for the collision.  The accident remains under investigation.

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Two area police departments have raised thousands of dollars in support of cancer research.  During No Shave November, Redding Police were able to raise $1,785.  Police thanked donors for their support, with Chief Douglas Fuchs joking that all participants should go get a new razor now that it's December.  Danbury Police raised $2,100 during No Shave November.  The Danbury Police Department chas a strict facial hair policy, but Chief Ridenhour has allowed for some exceptions as a way to raise awareness and funds for cancer research.

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The Connecticut Supreme Court will hear an appeal of the case brought by some Sandy Hook families against Bushmaster Firearms.  The lawsuit be families of 9 victims killed and an injured teacher shot on 12-14 alleges that the sale of a military weapon violated Connecticut's Unfair Trade Practices Act and State Common Law, negating the gun company's claim of immunity. 

 

The lawsuit is bypassing the Appellate Court, and will be heard directly by the state's highest court.  The families are appealing a decision by a Bridgeport Superior Court judge to dismiss the case.

 

Nicole Hockley, whose son Dylan was killed, said their goal has always been to help prevent the next Sandy Hook.

 

Attorney Josh Koskoff says they welcome the Court’s swift action, particularly as the fourth anniversary of the shooting approaches.  The suit alleges that the AR-15 assault weapon used in the shooting was negligently entrusted to the public, and that the defendants violated the Connecticut Unfair Trade Practices Act in aggressively and unethically marketing the AR-15 to the public.

 

Koskoff says the gun was built for warfare and has been the military’s weapon of choice for 50 years because of its efficiency as a mass casualty weapon.  When entrusted to the military, he says the AR-15 requires more than 100 hours of training and is subject to strict protocols on safety and storage.

 

The families’ appeal papers described the profound effect of the shooting on Connecticut: “The loss of twenty first-graders and six educators would shake any community to its core. Ours had to grapple with the manner in which those lives were lost. Children and teachers were gunned down in classrooms and hallways with a weapon that was designed for our armed forces and engineered to deliver maximum carnage. The assault was so rapid that no police force on earth could have been expected to stop it. Fifty-pound bodies were riddled with five, eleven, even thirteen bullets. This is not sensationalism. It is the reality the defendants created when they chose to sell a weapon of war and aggressively market its assaultive capabilities. Ten families who paid the price for those choices seek accountability through Connecticut common and statutory law. It is only appropriate that Connecticut’s highest court decide whether these families have the right to proceed.”

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Ridgefield Police are investigating another larceny from a car parked at a childcare facility.  Around 8am this morning, a person broke the window of a vehicle and stole a pocketbook.  A possible suspect vehicle is a silver or gray SUV.  Ridgefield Police are still investigating two similar incidents which occurred on November 10th.  Anyone with information is asked to call the Ridgefield Police Department Anonymous Tip Line at 203-431-2345.  Police are reminding residents not to leave valuables unattended in vehicles.

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The Connecticut man accused of killing his parents after they planned to cut him out of their will has had his case continued.  The case against 28-year old Kyle Navin was continued to January 12th for the Bridgeport man to consider a plea deal.  Navin is charged with  two counts of murder and one count of murder under special circumstances for the deaths of Jeffrey and Jeanette Navin of Easton. 

 

The couple was reported missing last August and their bodies were found buried in the backyard of an acquaintance in Weston that October.  Kyle Navin remains held on bond. 

 

His girlfriend, 31-year old Jennifer Valiante is charged with conspiracy and also remains held on bond.

 

The terms of the plea deal and the reason Navin was given more time to decide were not disclosed. Navin's lawyer, Eugene Riccio, declined to comment.

 

Police wrote in court documents that Jeanette Navin had told a friend that she and her husband planned to sell their trash-hauling business and cut their son out of their will.  She was upset about her son's behavior and drug use and his failure to pay the mortgage and taxes on the home they bought him, according to the documents.

 

The month before his parents disappeared, Kyle Navin texted Valiante saying he had the "perfect plan" to get "$ for life," according to an arrest warrant affidavit. Navin wrote that the plan would "solve every single problem and give us a wealthy amazing life," the warrant said.

 

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A New York man has been arrested for putting nails in someone's driveway two days in a row.  The Putnam County Sheriff's Office reports that nails were placed in a Patterson driveway November 11th and 12th, and caused damage to the victim's car tires.  An investigation led police to 35-year old Joseph Ettere.  He admitted to placing the nails in the driveway.  Ettere was charged with criminal mischief and harassment.

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Boehringer Ingelheim announced 120 layoffs as it closes its small molecule discovery functions at its Ridgebury campus.  The pharmaceutical company announced a restructuring over the summer, eliminating 244 positions, with more than half coming from the Ridgefield facility. A company spokeswoman said that about 35 new employees will be hired to focus on oncology next year.  Boehringer Ingelheim employees about 2,500 people at its Ridgefield campus.

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96 positions have been eliminated at FuelCell Energy.  The Danbury-based company announced the business restructuring today in an effort to educe costs and align production levels with current demand.  The workforce was reduced at both the North American production facility in Torrington, as well as at corporate offices in Danbury and remote locations. 

 

It's not clear how many firings took place at each location.

 

In conjunction with the personnel reduction, the Company is implementing other measures to reduce operating costs by at least $6 million on an annualized basis.  The Company is also implementing various cost control initiatives. 

 

President and CEO Chip Bottone says they are streamlining the business and cost structure as FuelCell reduces production levels to position the Company for long term success.  Bottone says their employees are the most valued assets so the decision to reduce the workforce was not made lightly.

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State Police are now in charge of the investigation into a rollover accident which sent two people to the hospital with serious injuries.  The incident started when an off-duty Danbury Police officer, working a private security job, saw a Ford Explorer known to be stolen. 

 

Danbury Police Spokesman Lt. Christian Carroccio says the officer confronted the driver around 10:30am on Center Street, but the driver took off.  The Officer pursued the stolen car in his personal vehicle and called in to dispatch.  The other driver lost control around a curve on Mountainville Road a short time later.  The occupants were ejected from the vehicle. 

 

Assistant Fire Chief Mark Omasta says a male and a female occupant were transported to Danbury Hospital for treatment.  Two Danbury Fire Department Engines responded to the scene.  A Danbury Library official said about a dozen police cars were seen responding to the area. 

 

Danbury Police will conduct an internal investigation.

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A New York man has been arrested after confronting store employees speaking spanish.  Putnam County Sheriff's Deputies responded to the Putnam Lake Market last Tuesday on a report of a suspicious person.  The man left before Deputies arrived. 

 

An employee of the store said that she was speaking to another employee in Spanish when a man confronted her and stated, “this is our country, we speak English here”.  The man also reportedly said that he “wants to shoot all Spanish speaking people”.

 

An investigation identified the man as 56-year old Wayne Rossi of Patterson.  He admitted to confronting the store employee. 

 

Rossi, a previously convicted felon, was in possession of a .22 caliber rifle.  He is prohibited by law from possessing a firearm.  He was charged with criminal possession of a weapon and harassment. 

 

Rossi was arraigned and ordered to appear in Patterson Town Court on January 10th.

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Wilton Police have released video of officers rescuing a motorist from a vehicle moments before it became fully engulfed in flames.  Police responded to New Canaan Road the night before Thanksgiving last week and found a Range Rover's engine compartment on fire. 

 

 

Wilton Police say the driver, 26-year old Hunter Stanfield, was trapped inside the car.  Six officers responded, but couldn't get the driver's door open so they crawled in through the rear hatch and back doors.  The Wilton man's legs were jammed under the steering wheel.  Flames started to spread into the vehicle and officers used fire extinguishers to try to give other officers time to pull the man to safety.   

 

He was eventually freed, just before the vehicle was fully engulfed in flames.  Stanfield and one officer were treated at the hospital for various injuries.

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The New Milford Town Council has approved using waste management fund money for the next phase of the library modernization project.  The Town Council unanimously approved allocating $162,700 for schematic designs.  It was ruled that money from the waste management fund is an appropriate funding source. 

 

The architect previously presented the proposed design to the Town Council, and recently gave a written estimate of the scope of work for the new phase of the project.  The proposal to add 10,000 square feet of usable space features another story built on top of the addition, constructed in the late 1970s.  The library would also be made more accessible. 

 

Director Sally Tornow says story hour, a safe spaces for teens and room for adults to sit and read is done in the programming room.  But it's the same for children, teens and adults.  She says to have separate areas would be a vast improvement.  The expansion would open up more meeting and program space, alleviating cramping in the young adult and children’s libraries. 

 

The overall project is anticipated to cost $7 million.

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The International Association of Firefighters, Danbury Professional Firefighters Union Local 801, is once again conducting a canned food drive on behalf of the Salvation Army's Holiday Food Bank and Holiday Baskets.  For over 30 years the Union has sponsored the collection to help those in the area who are in need.  Food Drive Chairman Chip Daly says the generous community donations are combined with donations from Local 801's 115 member donations.  All non-perishable food will be accepted.  The collection will run through Friday, December 23rd.

Food Drive collection sites are located at the following DANBURY CAREER FIRE STATIONS:

Fire Headquarters 19 New Street

Engine Company 23 208 Osborne Street

Engine Company 24 36 Eagle Road, Commerce Park

Engine Company 25 171 South King Street

Engine Company 26 75 Kenosia Avenue Ext.

Fire Marshals Office 1st floor City Hall, Deer Hill Ave.

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