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State News Stories

Northeast officials team up to push pot, vaping regulations

NEW YORK (AP) - The governors from several Northeastern states say they want to work together to regulate marijuana and vaping.

Democratic governors from New York, Connecticut, New Jersey and Pennsylvania met Thursday in New York City with health and legislative officials.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo says a lack of federal action on pot and vaping regulations means it's up to states to act.

Several of the governors have unsuccessfully pushed for their states to allow recreational pot sales in the last year. Officials from the four states are conferring with each other as they consider next steps.

Cuomo says marijuana is often vaped and that states should consider that when considering marijuana legalization.

Lawyer argues home invasion killer deserves new trial

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - A lawyer for convicted home invasion killer Joshua Komisarjevsky has told the Connecticut Supreme Court that his client did not get a fair trial because a judge refused to move the proceedings out of New Haven.

Attorney John Holdridge argued Komisarjevsky's appeal before the high court Thursday. A ruling on whether a new trial is warranted is expected in several months.

Komisarjevsky and Steven Hayes are serving life prison sentences for the 2007 killings of Jennifer Hawke-Petit and her daughters, 17-year-old Hayley and 11-year-old Michaela, in Cheshire, in New Haven County. Hayes dropped his appeal.

The Hartford Courant reports Holdridge told justices that New Haven-area residents were too upset by the killings to pick jurors and hold a trial there.

Prosecutor Marjorie Allen Dauster said the defense never proved their unfair trial claims.


Connecticut economist warns employment high could change

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - A Connecticut Department of Labor report shows the gain of 3,600 jobs, making September the 15th consecutive month of year-over-year growth.

The Hartford Courant reports the state reported nearly 1.7 million jobs Thursday. The new high is just shy of the mark reached in 2008, several months before the impact of the recession began to take a toll on the state's labor force.

But a state labor economist has warned the numbers could change.

Andy Condon, research director at the agency, says while nearly all the growth last month came from an "unusually high increase" in the education and health sector, they will have to see if this growth "holds up in future months."

The state saw job declines in areas like professional and business services and construction and mining.

Lawyers linked to Panama Papers seek to stop Netflix movie

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - Two lawyers linked to the so-called Panama Papers are asking a federal judge to stop Neflix's upcoming release of "The Laundromat," which they say defames them as lawless attorneys and may affect criminal cases against them.

Panamanian lawyers Jürgen Mossack and Ramón Fonseca filed a defamation lawsuit and request for a temporary restraining order Tuesday in federal court in Connecticut.

Netflix is set to release the movie Friday, after it had a limited release in theaters. It stars Gary Oldman as Mossack and Antonio Banderas as Fonseca, as well as Meryl Streep.

Netflix says the case should be dismissed or moved to California.

The Panama Papers were more than 11 million documents leaked from the two lawyers' firm in a data breach that shed light on how the rich hide their money.

Lamont still hopeful for "doable" transportation plan

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - Democratic Gov. Ned Lamont says he's still working to get state lawmakers "on board" with his latest plan to upgrade Connecticut's roads and bridges.

Lamont said Wednesday his administration is talking daily with legislative leaders to secure support before the proposal is rolled out. Lamont hopes there will be bipartisan support for it.

Speaking to the Connecticut Retail Merchants Association, Lamont said his retooled transportation plan is "doable, finite and makes a difference now" by tackling 10 to 15 chokepoints on certain major highways. Lamont hopes to secure low-cost federal loans, to be repaid with limited highway tolls, to help cover the cost of specific improvements.

Meanwhile, Lamont says New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has agreed to work with Connecticut on finding ways to speed up Metro-North commuter rail times.

Connecticut officers sue city over sergeant promotions

STAMFORD, Conn. (AP) - Five Connecticut police officers are suing Stamford alleging that city officials ignored precise scores on the sergeants' exam and overlooked them for promotions.

The Stamford Advocate reports that officers are promoted to sergeant if they obtain the top three scores or score within five points of the top score on the sergeants' exam.

Court documents indicate that the officers who received the top three scores were selected for promotion. The plaintiffs say they were passed over for promotion in favor of colleagues who scored lower on the promotion exam.

They allege the city violated civil-service rules and the city charter.

Then suit is similar to a complaint filed last year by city firefighters.

A city attorney said she could not comment on the suit.

Federal report reveals little on cause of fatal B-17 crash

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - A preliminary report by investigators on the B-17 crash that killed seven people at a Connecticut airport this month does not shed light on the possible cause.

The National Transportation Safety Board said in the report Tuesday that the wreckage has been kept for further examination.

The World War II-era bomber crashed and burned after experiencing mechanical trouble on takeoff from Bradley International Airport the morning of Oct. 2.

The plane was carrying 13 people, and the two pilots were among those killed.

A third member of the flight crew and four passengers were seriously injured. Another passenger and one person on the ground suffered minor injuries.

Connecticut woman facing deportation granted a stay

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - A Connecticut woman who was ordered deported because of past criminal convictions has been granted a stay by the Board of Immigration Appeals.

Democratic Gov. Ned Lamont announced Tuesday the board also agreed to reconsider the case of Wayzaro Walton, who faced deportation even though she was pardoned by the state for felony shoplifting and less serious crimes committed more than seven years ago. She's been detained since March.

The 35-year-old has lived legally in the U.S. for most of her life. She came here from England when she was 4 years old.

Connecticut Attorney General William Tong recently filed a lawsuit defending the legitimacy of Connecticut pardons, which are issued by a state board. Federal immigration officials have argued that a state pardon needs to come from a governor.


Chief: Officer's Proud Boys membership didn't break policy

A Connecticut police chief has concluded that an officer's membership in a far-right group known for engaging in violent clashes at political rallies didn't violate department policies.

East Hampton Police Chief Dennis Woessner said in a letter last month to a civil rights group that Officer Kevin P. Wilcox "stopped his association" with the Proud Boys in February.

That was about five months before the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law inquired about the officer's social media connections with other group members.

The chief says he closed the matter as being "unfounded."

But the civil rights group's executive director says she was "astounded" by the chief's refusal to take any action against the officer.

Wilcox didn't immediately respond to calls seeking comment. Woessner said Tuesday that "there is no question" that Wilcox is not a white supremacist.


2 teenagers killed, 1 hurt in truck crash in Connecticut

BROOKLYN, Conn. (AP) - Police say a pickup truck crashed and caught fire in Connecticut, killing two teenage girls and injuring a third.

State police say the truck was negotiating a curve in the town of Brooklyn just after midnight Monday when the driver lost control and struck a guardrail. The truck continued down into a ditch and caught fire.

Police say Brenna Ann Larson, of Thompson, and Shawnna Wojnowski, of Plainfield, were both pronounced dead at the scene.

Ashley Adamo, of Pomfret, was taken to Hasbro Children's Hospital in Providence, Rhode Island with what police described as "suspected serious injury."

All three occupants of the truck were 17 years old.

It's not clear who was driving.

The crash remains under investigation.

Former inmate's sexual assault lawsuit to proceed to trial

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - A judge has ruled that the multimillion dollar lawsuit against Connecticut's prison system and several employees brought by a former inmate who says she was sexually assaulted behind bars can go forward.

The Hartford Courant reports that U.S. District Judge Michael P. Shea denied a state motion for dismissal on Friday, allowing 33-year-old Cara Tangreti to take the civil rights lawsuit to trial.

An internal Department of Correction inquiry "substantiated" wrongdoing on the part of prison personal. Multiple prisons employees were fired or arrested.

Eight supervisory personnel are listed as defendants, including the Department of Correction's former commissioner.

Tangreti says she was sexually assaulted multiple times at the state's women's prison in East Lyme while serving time on a larceny conviction in 2013 and 2014.

Ex-firefighter avoids prison in restaurant bathroom attack

MILFORD, Conn. (AP) - A former Connecticut firefighter convicted of assaulting a man in the bathroom of restaurant has avoided prison time.

The New Haven Register reports that 35-year-old Matthew LaVecchia was sentenced last week to a nine-month suspended sentence and three years of probation. He had faced up to a year behind bars for a third-degree assault conviction in August.

LaVecchia was arrested last February after a fight with a former high school friend in the bathroom of a Milford restaurant. He was fired from the Milford Fire Department two months later.

LaVecchia punched the man multiple times in the face, giving him a broken nose and concussion. He said the other man initiated contact and claimed self-defense.

LaVecchia expressed remorse in a letter read in court.


Report shows utilities 'well aware' of cyberattack dangers

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - A new state report shows Connecticut's utilities are "well aware of the increasing dangers" of cyberattacks and appear to have successfully thwarted recent threats they encountered.

Four utilities participated in the third annual cybersecurity review of Connecticut's electricity, natural gas and public water utilities. The list includes Eversource, Connecticut Water, Aquarion Water Co. and Avangrid.

The report says the utilities conducted "extensive new work" over the past year to boost their cybersecurity resilience, including vetting the hiring of all employees and vendors. Phishing, spear phishing, threats to cloud information storage and insider threats are cited as some of the most worrisome threats facing the state's utilities.

The report highlights a need for better information sharing between the federal Department of Homeland Security and the state utilities concerning cyber compromises.

Judge determining whether college stabber was insane

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - A judge is determining whether a former drama student accused of stabbing two fellow students at the University of Hartford is not guilty by reason of insanity.

Superior Court Judge James Graham heard testimony during a one-day trial Friday in Hartford and is expected to announce a verdict next Friday.

Jake Wascher, of San Diego, is charged with first-degree assault and carrying a dangerous weapon in connection with the March 31 attack at an on-campus apartment.

A psychiatrist who testified for the defense Friday said the 21-year-old Wascher was suffering a brief psychotic disorder at the time of the stabbings. The two victims survived.

If Wascher is found not guilty by reason of insanity, he would be committed to the state's maximum-security psychiatric hospital.

Hall of Fame coach Jim Calhoun denies sex bias claims

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - Hall of Fame basketball coach Jim Calhoun is denying allegations of sexual discrimination made by a former associate athletic director at the University of Saint Joseph, the Division III school where he now works.

Calhoun says in a statement released Saturday by the school that he never "knowingly treated any woman unfairly because of her gender" and he fully supports women's rights and equality.

Jaclyn Piscitelli sued the Catholic school in West Hartford in federal court Wednesday. She alleges she was fired after complaining about the conduct of men in the athletic department, including the 77-year-old Calhoun, who coaches the school's men's basketball team.

She alleges the former UConn coach once called her "hot" and forced her to clean up coffee grounds he spilled, among other things.

Diana Sousa, a school spokeswomen, has said the university doesn't comment on pending litigation but that it "takes compliance with all matters relating to Title IX very seriously."

Possible compromise on restaurant workers gets mixed reviews

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - A possible legislative compromise that attempts to address concerns raised by restaurant owners over state wage and hour rules is getting mixed reviews.

While members of the Connecticut Restaurant Association said Thursday they support the draft legislation, union leaders and some restaurant workers say it still puts wait staff and other tip workers at a disadvantage.

After vetoing a bill that would have required the state Department of Labor to clarify its rules for when workers earn the $6.38 an hour tip wage and when they don't, Democratic Gov. Ned Lamont and his administration have been working to craft a compromise.

Some restaurants are facing class action lawsuits over their interpretation of the current rules.

Dozens of restaurants owners and workers are expected to weigh in Thursday on the proposal.

73-year-old man found stabbed to death in his kitchen

EAST WINDSOR, Conn. (AP) - Police now say the death of a 73-year-old Connecticut man found in the kitchen of his mobile home is considered a homicide.

East Windsor police said Thursday that Halsey Hesse Jr. was stabbed multiple times.

A relative found the body Wednesday morning when they went to his home because they had not been able to reach the victim by phone in several days.

Police said on Facebook that they are "zeroing in on a person of interest" in the case and think the victim and suspect knew each other.

There were no signs of forced entry and robbery does not appear to be the motive.

Police said there is no danger to the public.


Prison consultant pleads guilty in drug program scam

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (AP) - A consultant who coached people convicted of federal crimes on how to minimize their prison time has pleaded guilty to fraud and conspiracy charges.

Prosecutors say 48-year-old Samuel Copenhaver, of Grand Rapids, Michigan, had clients feign or exaggerate drug or alcohol problems to gain admission into a federal drug abuse treatment program.

Prison officials have long suspected abuse of the program , because inmates who successfully complete it can have the time they end up serving cut by up to a year.

Officials say the scam undermined the authority of the judicial system to administer fair and impactful sentences and diverted treatment from inmates who really needed it.

Copenhaver pleaded guilty on Thursday and faces up to 25 years in prison at a sentencing hearing scheduled for Jan. 16, 2020.


High school students vote to drop Native American mascot

KILLINGLY, Conn. (AP) - Students at a Connecticut high school have chosen a replacement for their Native American-themed athletic mascot.

Superintendent Steve Rioux tells The Norwich Bulletin that about 80 percent of Killingly High School students who voted selected Red Hawks to replace Redmen. The other finalist was Razorbacks.

The new nickname is subject to approval by the town's Board of Education, which meets Wednesday.

The change is the culmination of a yearslong process that began with citizen complaints to the board about the offensive nature of the former mascot.

The board decided to make a change during the summer when the Nipmuc Tribe, based in the area, stated their opposition to it.

The Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation also condemned the mascot as "racist and stereotypical."


Shipyard workers' union at Electric Boat approves contract

GROTON, Conn. (AP) - A shipyard workers' union has overwhelmingly approved a new contract with raises and pension increases for eligible employees at General Dynamics Electric Boat.

The Day reports the Metal Trades Council passed the four-year contract Tuesday despite opposition from some members who said they wanted a better deal.

The union represents about 2,700 shipyard workers, including boilermakers, office and professional employees.

More than 2,100 members voted and more than 85% approved the contract.

Electric Boat has facilities in Connecticut and Rhode Island.

Some union members wanted more than a 3% raise. About 100 union members picketed outside the shipyard Saturday during a submarine christening ceremony.

Electric Boat told employees that the contract offer is one of the most competitive in the region and for all shipbuilders. The terms are effective immediately.






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