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State News Stories

Governor's Woodstock tribute contest is taking shape

WOODSTOCK, Conn. (AP) - Gov. Ned Lamont's plan to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Woodstock music festival in Woodstock, Connecticut, is taking shape.

The Democrat announced Thursday five bands chosen to participate in the 2019 Battle of the Bands competition, to be held Aug. 30 at the Woodstock Fair . Each will compete for a share of $17,000 in prize money and the title of Connecticut Band of the Year.

The 65-year-old former businessman, who is donating $20,000 to $30,000 for the tribute concert, couldn't attend the original 1969 festival. Lamont predicts Connecticut's version will be a "day filled with peace and music" and "bands playing everything from Janis to Jimi," referring to Janis Joplin and Jimi Hendrix.

More than 50 bands submitted contest entries.

The Woodstock 50 three-day concert was canceled last month.

Transgender athlete policy is subject of civil rights probe

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - The federal Office for Civil Rights has launched an investigation into Connecticut's policy allowing transgender high school athletes to compete as the gender with which they identify.

The investigation follows a complaint by the families of three girls, who say they were discriminated against by having to compete in track against two athletes who were identified as male at birth. They say that violates Title IX, the federal law designed to ensure equal athletic opportunities for females.

The Connecticut Association of Schools-Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference says its policy follows a state anti-discrimination law that says students must be treated in school by the gender they identify with.

Transathlete.com says Connecticut is one of 17 states that allow transgender high school athletes to compete without restrictions.

Blackjack dealer charged with overpaying patrons avoids jail

MASHANTUCKET, Conn. (AP) - A former blackjack dealer at a Connecticut casino who authorities say overpaid players by $18,000 won't get prison time.

The Day reports that 47-year-old Alysia OLeary of Hopkinton, Rhode Island, received a suspended prison sentence and five years of probation Wednesday. She pleaded guilty to larceny and cheating.

Court documents state that Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Police observed OLeary making 68 overpayments to a patron at a Foxwoods Resort Casino blackjack table in December 2016.

Mashantucket authorities had already been investigating OLeary and brought additional charges for past thefts. The state declined to prosecute those charges.

The patron was also arrested. Her case is sealed.

OLeary says she takes full responsibility and expressed remorse.

The judge told OLeary that if she steals so much as a toothpick she'll go to prison.

Connecticut man charged with killing wife found dead

BRIDGEPORT, Conn. (AP) - A Connecticut man charged with killing his ex-wife has been found dead after a standoff with police.

Authorities say 75-year-old James Taylor was found dead inside a storage container on his Fairfield property just before 10 p.m. Tuesday.

The standoff began at about 5:15 p.m. when Taylor's GPS monitoring bracelet, worn as a condition of his release on bail, went off and court officials were unable to contact him.

Police went to Taylor's home, where they found him barricaded in a storage container in the backyard.

The cause of death remains under investigation but police say it appears to be a suicide.

Taylor was free on $2 million bond.

Authorities say Taylor broke into his stepson's Fairfield home on Feb. 3 and fatally shot his 70-year-old ex-wife, Catherine.

MGM sues over federal approval of tribal casino deal

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - Casino developer MGM has filed a lawsuit challenging the federal approval of a deal that would allow Connecticut's two Indian tribes to open a third casino in the state.

The lawsuit was filed Wednesday in Washington D.C. It challenges the Department of the Interior's approval of amendments to the gaming compact between the state and the Mashantucket Pequot and Mohegan tribes.

MGM says the approval creates an unlawful advantage for the tribes in competing for casino rights off of tribal lands.

The tribes are planning to jointly operate a casino in East Windsor that would compete with MGM's casino in nearby Springfield, Massachusetts.

MGM also is competing with the tribes for the rights to open a casino in Bridgeport.

The tribes didn't immediately respond to a request for comment on the lawsuit.


Judge grants class-action status to prisoners lawsuit

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - A federal judge has given class-action status to a lawsuit that alleges Connecticut's Correction Department has not done enough to screen and treat inmates with hepatitis C in the state's prisons.

U.S. District Court Judge Michael Shea this week also turned down a state motion to dismiss that lawsuit.

The plaintiffs say they were denied sufficient treatment by prison medical staff, resulting in suffering while putting thousands of other prisoners at risk.

Similar federal lawsuits have been filed across the country.

A judge in Tennessee this week ordered that state to mediate with a group of prisoners who are demanding treatment for their hepatitis C infections.

The Connecticut legislature's Office of Fiscal Analysis has estimated it could cost up to $158 million to diagnose and treat inmates with hepatitis C.

Arrest made in felling of Connecticut's 'door tree'

HAMDEN, Conn. (AP) - Connecticut authorities say the person responsible for cutting down a distinctive tree has been arrested.

The New Haven-based Regional Water Authority announced the arrest Tuesday. No name was released.

The authority said the Door Tree in Hamden, a 200-year-old white oak that grew in a "distinctive doorway-like arch," had been cut down with a chainsaw on July 18.

The Regional Water Authority owns the land where the tree stood.

David Johnson, Hamden's municipal historian and a member of the Hamden Historical Society which first discovered the tree had been felled, called it a "terrible act of thoughtless vandalism."

The historical society says the tree was first photographed in 1898 and was featured in works including Ripley's "Believe It or Not."

Connecticut man charged with killing wife found dead

BRIDGEPORT, Conn. (AP) A Connecticut man charged with killing his ex-wife has been found dead after a standoff with police.

Authorities say 75-year-old James Taylor was found dead inside a storage container on his Fairfield property just before 10 p.m. Tuesday.

The standoff began at about 5:15 p.m. when Taylor's GPS monitoring bracelet, worn as a condition of his release on bail, went off and court officials were unable to contact him.

Police went to Taylor's home, where they found him barricaded in a storage container in the backyard.

The cause of death remains under investigation but police say it appears to be a suicide.

Taylor was free on $2 million bond.

Authorities say broke into his stepson's Fairfield home on Feb. 3, fatally shot his 70-year-old ex-wife, Catherine.

Connecticut lawmaker seeks constitutional convention on guns

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - A top Democratic state lawmaker in Connecticut is raising the idea of convening a constitutional convention to amend the U.S. Constitution to ban assault-style firearms.

Hartford Rep. Matthew Ritter, majority leader of the state's House of Representatives, acknowledged Tuesday it's a "tall order" to get two-thirds of the state legislatures to agree to call a convention, given fear it could veer into other issues.

He says there's little confidence Congress will do anything to address gun violence and this effort would give people "hope and something to do with this energy and passion" they're feeling after the latest mass shootings in Texas and Ohio.

Connecticut passed bipartisan gun violence legislation after the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, including an expanded assault weapons ban.

Ritter's staff is investigating the process.

2 arrested in burning of dog at beach

WEST HAVEN, Conn. (AP) - Police in Connecticut say they've arrested the owner of a dog whose remains were found after a fire in the parking lot of a West Haven beach on Independence Day.

Authorities found the dog's charred carcass after they were called to Sandy Point Beach on July 4 and put out a small fire.

Police on Monday arrested the dog's owner, 35-year-old Latrice Moody, of West Haven and issued a warrant for another town resident, 41-year-old Maurice Jackson.

They face charges of breach of peace, illegal dumping and open burning. Moody also is charged with animal cruelty.

Police say they believe her dog, an older terrier, was dead before it was set on fire.


Bus driver arrested for locking woman in luggage compartment

BOSTON (AP) - A bus driver has been charged with locking a passenger in the vehicle's luggage compartment.

Connecticut State Police got a 911 call at about 4 p.m. Sunday from a woman who said she was deliberately locked in the luggage compartment of a Peter Pan bus during a trip from New York City to Boston.

Authorities tracked the call and pulled the bus over on Interstate 84 in Union, Connecticut.

The woman told authorities a female driver locked her inside while she retrieved items from her bag.

Police charged 49-year-old Wendy Alberty with unlawful restraint and other offenses. Alberty was not driving at the time but was on the bus as a passenger.

She was freed on $2,000 bail. Her case wasn't listed in court records and it's unclear if she has a lawyer.

Connecticut SAT numbers stay steady, show race gap

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - Newly released results of the Connecticut SAT School Day show that there continues to be a wide achievement gap between white students and their minority peers.

According to results released Monday , white students are still twice as likely as black or Hispanic students to have the reading and writing skills needed to be ready for college or a career. In math, white students are three times more likely to be prepared.

The results showed that one-third of high school juniors are not reading or writing well enough to begin college or a career, while 59% of juniors failed to meet the math standard.

Ajit Gopalakrishnan, chief performance officer for the state's education department, says while many students are meeting standards, "We still have a long way to go."

Court denies state's request to dismiss manhole fall lawsuit

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - A Connecticut court has denied the state's request to dismiss a lawsuit by a woman who was injured when she fell into a manhole and landed in sewage.

A three-judge panel of the state Appellate Court on Friday rejected arguments by the state Department of Transportation that it was immune from the lawsuit and had no duty to maintain or repair the manhole in New London at the corner of two state highways - Ocean and Lee avenues.

The ruling allows Angela Dudley's lawsuit to proceed toward a trial in New London Superior Court.

Dudley said she suffered back trauma and other injuries in June 2012 when she stepped on a manhole cover that was not properly closed and fell into the sewage system. She's seeking unspecified damages.

Man arrested at airport after gun found in carry-on

WINDSOR LOCKS, Conn. (AP) - State police say a Connecticut man face charges after screeners found a loaded pistol in a carry-on bag at Bradley International Airport.

Jordan Anthony Butler, of South Windsor, was arrested at the airport Saturday afternoon after the gun and ammunition was detected on x-ray machines at an airport checkpoint.

The 24-year-old man told authorities he forgot there was a gun in the backpack.

State police were called by Transportation Security Administration officials.

Butler faces charges of carrying a gun without a permit, circumventing or failing to comply with airport security measures and illegal possession of a large capacity magazine.

He was released on $1,000 bail and is scheduled to appear in Enfield Superior Court later this month.

Sex abuse scandal enveloping Connecticut magnet school

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - A month before classes are set to resume, a criminal investigation has enveloped a Connecticut magnet school.

So far, three people face charges in connection with the sexual assault of students at the Bennie Dover Jackson Middle School in New London.

The case centers around 35-year-old Corriche Gaskin, a behavioral specialist who was arrested in May and is accused of assaulting two students in his office, filming sexual encounters with staff members and showing those videos to students.

Jevon Elmore, who served as a paraprofessional at the middle school, also has also been charged with sexual assault, which police say occurred at the city's high school.

Elmore's attorney said he would have to wait before commenting. Gaskin's attorney did not return messages.

A former middle school teacher, Melissa Rodriguez, has pleaded not guilty to failing to report an incident.

Worker injured in ceiling collapse at Connecticut school

STAMFORD, Conn. (AP) - Police say a construction worker suffered minor injuries after a large section of a plaster ceiling he was taking down at a Connecticut elementary school fell on him.

Stamford police Lt. Eugene Dohman tells the Stamford Advocate the worker was helping renovate the Strawberry Hill School on Wednesday afternoon.

He says the 49-year-old worker was at first trapped under the plaster, but wriggled out and was pulled free by a co-worker. He walked to an ambulance which took him to the hospital to be checked out. He was wearing a hard hat.

The worker's name was released but police say he worked for a subcontractor and was from Massachusetts.

The federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration was notified.

Body of New York man recovered at Connecticut waterfall

SALISBURY, Conn. (AP) - Authorities have recovered the body of a New York man believed to have drowned while visiting waterfalls in Connecticut.

State police say a dive team recovered the body of 40-year-old Anderson Guante at Great Falls along the Housatonic River in Salisbury on Wednesday.

Guante was from Brooklyn, New York.

The dive team conducted a search Tuesday evening after police responded to a report of a drowning.

But the evening search was unsuccessful and resumed Wednesday morning.

Officials believe Guante suffered a head injury and was pulled underpot by the swirling currents of the rocky falls.

An autopsy is scheduled to determine the cause of death.

Lawmaker wants donors to pay for UConn's exit from AAC

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - The top Republican in Connecticut's Senate wants private donors to pick up the cost of UConn's departure from the American Athletic Conference.

Senate Minority Leader Len Fasano wrote on Wednesday to the school's new president, Tom Katsouleas, urging him to have the UConn Foundation pick up $20.5 million tab and not students or taxpayers.

The school has said no tuition or state appropriated funds will be used to pay $17 million exit fee to the AAC and a $3.5 million entrance fee to rejoin the Big East for the 2020-21 school year. The exit fee must be paid in full by 2026.

UConn has said it plans to use the school's share of AAC revenue from 2019 and 2020 to help pay the fee, along with money generated from sources such as athletics, dining, housing and parking.

Lawmakers say they're come up with wide-ranging casino plan

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - A bipartisan group of lawmakers from around Connecticut say they've reached a compromise on proposed legislation that could lead to a tribal casino in Bridgeport.

The legislators on Wednesday unveiled the Connecticut Jobs and Revenue Act, which requires the Mashantucket Pequot and Mohegan tribes to spend a minimum of $100 million on an entertainment and gambling facility in Connecticut's most populous city.

In return, the tribes, who own and operate casinos in southeastern Connecticut, would be authorized to conduct sports wagering at Foxwoods Resort Casino and Mohegan Sun, as well as through mobile applications and online. Sports wagering would be taxed at 8% while internet gambling would be taxed at 10%.

The tribes would also pay the state 10% of casino table game revenues. The bill also modernizes the lottery.

Businessman pleads guilty to stealing $3.3M from employees

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - A Connecticut businessman has pleaded guilty to stealing more than $3.3 million from hundreds of his employees through phony administrators' fees on their pension plans.

Federal prosecutors say 62-year-old Lee Ferguson, of Farmington, who owned Ferguson Electric and Ferguson Mechanical, deducted from $1.60 to $3.15 per hour from each employee's benefits packages under the guise of "third-party administrative fees."

The fees went to TPA of Connecticut, a company Ferguson established and controlled. TPA of Connecticut, in turn, sent the money to DJS Associates, a company that Ferguson formed for the purported purpose of performing business-consulting services, but which did no such thing.

Authorities say Ferguson stole from more than 300 employees from 2013 until 2017.

He faces up to 10 years in prison at sentencing scheduled for Oct. 24.





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