Lester St. James
Lester St. James
6:00am - 10:00am
The Hawk Mornings

State News Stories

Prison workers top list of those not complying with mandate

The Connecticut governor's office says employees in the prison system make up almost a third of state workers who have failed to comply with its vaccine mandate. Friday's report noted that about 5% of Connecticut's roughly 30,000 state workers have not been vaccinated or submitted to weekly COVID-19 testing as required. Those include about 480 at the 5,400-employee state Department of Correction. The state has so far fired 22 workers and placed an additional 29 on unpaid leave. Officials say they are in the process of suspending or terminating 70 additional workers but are working with the rest to come into compliance.

Lamont seeks disaster declaration for flooding caused by Ida

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - Gov. Ned Lamont has submitted a request for a major disaster declaration to the Biden administration. A letter to the president Friday seeks federal funds to help Connecticut recover from damage caused by the remnants of Hurricane Ida. The Sept. 1 storm dumped as much as 8 inches of rain on parts of the state and caused an estimated $7.2 million in damage to homes, businesses and infrastructure. It also resulted in the death of State Police Sgt. Brian Mohl. His vehicle was swept away in floodwaters. The disaster declaration would allow many homeowners to seek federal reimbursement for any uninsured flood damage.

Man convicted of sex trafficking at 2020 Super Bowl

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (AP) - A jury in Florida has convicted a Connecticut man of sex trafficking at the 2020 Super Bowl in Miami. The U.S. attorney's office had alleged 48-year-old Edward Walker brought two adult women and a 17-year-old girl from Connecticut to Miami in January 2020 to offer sex for money. Prosecutors offered evidence that Walker planned to take the victims to other locations including Chicago, Illinois and New Orleans. After an eight-day trial, a jury in Fort Lauderdale convicted Walker of two counts of sex trafficking and one count of transporting a person for sexual activity. He faces up to life in prison when he's sentenced in January.

Movement disorders associated with Huntington added to Medical Marijuana Program

The Medical Marijuana Program Board of Physicians has recommended adding movement disorders associated with Huntington Disease to the list of qualifying conditions for the Medical Marijuana Program.  This was only recommended for adult patients as the disease is rare in children.   Consumer Protection Commissioner Michelle Seagull notes that the program relies on the advice and guidance from the medical community and has accepted the recommendation. 

The state's medical marijuana program has grown to support almost 54,000 current patients with severe debilitating conditions. 

The Department is working with the Board of Physicians to ensure the integrity of the medical program continues even with the expansion of adult-use cannabis in Connecticut. Movement disorders associated with Huntington Disease is the first condition to be added to the list of debilitating medical conditions using the new process defined in the cannabis bill.  

Connecticut employers add jobs for ninth consecutive month

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - Connecticut's unemployment rate continued to drop in September as state employers added back jobs for the ninth consecutive month. The state Department of Labor reported Thursday that unemployment was 6.8% in September. That's down from 7.2% in August and 8.3% in September of 2020. According to the report, employers added an estimated 4,700 jobs to the economy last month. The director of the Labor Department's Office of Research said the state has now regained just over 70% of jobs lost as a result of the pandemic lockdown in March and April of 2020.

Convicted child rapist who claimed 100 victims dies at 73

ROCKY HILL, Conn. (AP) - Lawyers say a child rapist from Massachusetts who said he sexually assaulted as many as 100 victims has died at a Connecticut nursing home. Wayne Chapman died of natural causes Wednesday evening. He was 73 and had been living at a nursing home in Rocky Hill, just south of Hartford. Chapman was convicted in 1977. A court found he had at least 50 victims. A lawyer for some of the victims says Chapman had admitted raping as many as 100 children. His prison sentence ended in 2004, but Massachusetts officials civilly committed him for another 15 years. His release in 2019 outraged his victims.

Connecticut lawmaker arrested, accused of COVID funds misuse

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - A Connecticut state legislator who works as an aide to the West Haven City Council is being accused of creating a company that received more than $600,000 in federal COVID-19 relief funds for services that were never provided. Rep. Michael DiMassa, a Democrat, was arrested by FBI agents Tuesday and appeared in federal court in New Haven. He's been charged with fraud. DiMassa is accused of creating a limited liability company that was paid $636,783 by the city of West Haven, for COVID-19-related services, including lobbying, consulting and site work for clinics, despite never providing any services to the city's public health department, according to an arrest affidavit unsealed Tuesday.

Guilty plea entered in state senate election fraud case

BRIDGEPORT, Conn. (AP) - A former campaign worker for a Connecticut state senator has pleaded guilty to federal charges that she conspired to fraudulently obtain public funds for the senator's 2018 legislative campaign. Tina Manus, of Bridgeport, worked on the campaign of Democratic Sen. Dennis Bradley, who is awaiting trial on charges that his campaign ran a scheme to make it look as though he qualified for funds to which he was not entitled. Manus pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and has agreed to cooperate in the investigation. She is free on a $150,000 bond while awaiting sentencing. Bradley has pleaded not guilty.

Redistricting panel picks 9th member, hopes to meet deadline

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - The panel of state lawmakers charged with redrawing Connecticut's legislative and congressional district lines has once again chosen a former state senator and auditor to be its ninth, tie-breaking member. Kevin Johnston, who served in the same role during the 2011 redistricting process, was chosen unanimously by the Reapportionment Commission on Monday. The members said they hope to meet their Nov. 30 deadline to finish redrawing the lines, despite what's been a truncated process due to the late release of U.S. Census data during the pandemic. That didn't happen in 2011, when state Supreme Court had to appoint a special master to redraw the congressional district lines.

Thousands of online, sports bets placed on Conn.'s 1st day

Thousands of virtual bets have begun being placed on the first day that online sports wagering and casino games have been made available to all eligible adults within Connecticut's borders. Rodney Butler, chairman of the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation, owners of Foxwoods Resort Casino, called Tuesday's full launch "nothing short of historic." The two tribes and the Connecticut Lottery Corporation are allowed to offer online sports betting while the tribes are also allowed to offer online casino games. Kevin Hennessy, director of publicity for FanDuel, which has partnered with Mohegan Sun, said Connecticut is launching its online offerings at the perfect time to attract bettors, given the large amount of sporting events that are happening.

Man charged in hit-and-run that killed 14-year-old girl

MIDDLETOWN, Conn. (AP) - A Connecticut man has been ordered detained on $100,000 bail in connection with a hit-and-run accident that killed a 14-year-old girl in Haddam in July. Twenty-seven-year-old Thomas Cretella was arraigned in court Monday on charges including negligent homicide with a motor vehicle after turning himself in to police. State police say the girl, identified by family and friends as Gianna Vincelett, of Haddam, was struck while riding her bike on July 29. An arrest warrant says Cretella told police he consumed alcohol and heroin that night and didn't remember getting into an accident. Cretella's lawyer declined to comment.

Coach for AAU basketball team founded by WNBA player charged

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - A 30-year-old coach in an AAU girl's basketball program founded by a former WNBA player has been charged with child enticement for the alleged sexual abuse of three players. Danny Lawhorn, of Hartford, was already in custody on state charges of second-degree sexual assault. He appeared Tuesday in U.S. District Court via video conference. He also was charged federally with distributing narcotics. Lawhorn was a coach in the Bria Holmes Elite basketball program, but was fired after his arrest on state charges in June. Messages seeking comment Tuesday from Lawhorn's attorney and Holmes were not immediately returned.

Connecticut online sports betting set to fully begin Tuesday

Connecticut regulators have given the go-ahead for online sports wagering and online casino games to fully begin. That ends a seven-day "soft launch" of the state's newest forms of gambling. Starting at 6 a.m. Tuesday, three organizations will begin offering sports betting through their partners. The three organizations are the Connecticut Lottery Corporation, the Mohegan Tribe and the Mashantucket Pequot Tribe. Each had been limited to an initial 750 patrons during last week's soft launch. Also on Tuesday, the tribes will be allowed to offer online casino games.

Most Connecticut state workers complying with COVID mandate

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - More than 99% of affected Connecticut state employees are complying with an executive order requiring COVID-19 vaccinations and testing. Democratic Gov. Ned Lamont said Monday that 28 probationary employees who failed to comply have been dismissed. He said 20 more veteran staff members have been placed on unpaid leave. That's out of 32,000 workers at executive branch agencies. Those senior workers have up to 45 days to comply with the order or face termination. 

Activist Shawn Lang, former leader at AIDS Connecticut, dies

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - A longtime Connecticut activist for people living with HIV and AIDS as well as those impacted by opioid addiction and domestic abuse has died. Shawn Lang was 65. Lang's unexpected death on Sunday was confirmed to the Hartford Courant by her 24-year-old son Corbett Lang. Her death was met Monday with both shock and sadness by friends, associates and Connecticut politicians. Democratic Gov. Ned Lamont credited Lang with "giving a voice for the underrepresented and those in marginalized communities." A resident of Hartford and the former deputy director of AIDS Connecticut, Lang worked for decades on state and federal AIDS policy.

Report: 89% of Conn. long-term care workers fully vaccinated

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - Newly released data show 89% of the more than 61,000 long-term care workers in Connecticut required to be vaccinated for COVID-19 under Gov. Ned Lamont's executive order were fully vaccinated as of Oct. 8. The state's Department of Public Health said Friday that 7% of those employees subject to the Democrat's mandate are partially vaccinated. Nursing homes and other long-term care facilities across the state reported around 2,850 workers were unvaccinated because they had medical or religious exemptions or they were unvaccinated for other reasons. Meanwhile, the state health department said depending on final federal approval, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson booster shots could be ready to begin as soon as Oct. 22.

Biden on hand to rededicate The Dodd Center for Human Rights

The Thomas J. Dodd Research Center at the University of Connecticut has been officially rededicated as The Dodd Center for Human Rights. It honors both the late U.S. senator and Nuremberg prosecutor as well as his son, former U.S. Sen. Christopher Dodd. President Joe Biden headlined Friday's rededication ceremony. It was held 26 years after the center first opened as a library and archival repository for the late Dodd's papers. Since then, the archives have grown into a major research center that's now home to UConn's human rights programs. Those include The Human Rights Institute, which offers undergraduate and graduate degrees.

Jury orders police officer in fatal shooting to pay $350K

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (AP) - A civil jury has ordered a former Bridgeport, Connecticut police officer to pay $350,000 after finding he wrongfully shot and killed a man eight years ago who had dropped his weapon. The federal jury found Friday that Christopher Borona violated the constitutional right to life of Bryan Stukes when he shot him in the back as he ran from Borona. Borona previously was cleared of any criminal wrongdoing following an investigation by a state prosecutor. A federal lawsuit filed by Stukes' mother claimed Borona used excessive force. A city attorney says the officer had to make a split-second decision and called the verdict disappointing.

Bridgeport officer suspended for hitting teen with a gun

BRIDGEPORT, Conn (AP) - A Bridgeport police officer has been suspended for 20 days for an incident caught on video in which he struck a 17-year-old in the head with his gun. Acting Police Chief Rebeca Garcia issued the suspension to Officer Gianni Capozziello after an investigation found he used excessive force during the Aug. 16, 2019 arrest of the teen, who was stopped in a stolen car, the Connecticut Post reported Thursday. Capozziello reported he used his service weapon as "an emergency impact weapon" because he feared the suspect, who was pulling away from him, was reaching for a gun.

Connecticut's quasi-public lottery says sales remain robust

ROCKY HILL, Conn. (AP) - The state's quasi-public Connecticut Lottery Corporation is reporting its best first quarter in the lottery's history from a sales perspective. The robust sales are driven in part by large jackpots in Powerball and other multi-state games, as well as superstitious players who picked the numbers 9-1-1 on Sept. 11, the anniversary of the 2001 terrorist attack. The lottery's chief operating officer said during Thursday's board of directors meeting that sales of all lottery games totaled $371.4 million from July through September, exceeding estimates by nearly $25 million. The news comes as the lottery is rolling out its sports betting offerings.

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Lester St. James
Lester St. James
6:00am - 10:00am
The Hawk Mornings