Connecticut Archives:

CONNECTICUT (BNO NEWS) — Former Mexican President Ernesto Zedillo has claimed that his status as the country’s former leader gives him immunity from being prosecuted for a 1997 massacre that left dozens of people dead in the southwestern state of Chiapas.

Zedillo, who was Mexico’s leader between 1994 and 2000, denied allegations that his office was in some way responsible for the killings of 45 people by paramilitary groups in the town of Acteal. Ten anonymous plaintiffs sued Zedillo in September and are seeking about $50 million in damages.

Zedillo, who is now employed at Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut, said in a court filing that he had “inherited the conflict in Chiapas from the prior administration,” CNN reported. He delivered the filing to a U.S. district court in Hartford.

“These anonymous accusations that President Zedillo was somehow complicit in the events in Acteal are baseless and outrageous,” a statement said, as quoted by the news network. “The December 1997 attack in Acteal was an appalling tragedy. But that tragedy was not the result of an elaborate conspiracy by the Mexican federal government, masterminded by President Zedillo.”

The massacre in Acteal on December 22, 1997, is considered among the more brutal incidents during an armed conflict that began in early 1994 when the Zapatista Army of National Liberation demanded more rights for indigenous people.

In 1999, the United Nations Commission on Human Reports found that the killings “occurred against a background of long-standing disputes, often over land ownership, which have for decades divided the local indigenous communities.” The report added that clashes between government supporters and those backing Zapatista rebels “claimed a large number of victims” in the region over a five-year span during the 1990s.

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SAN JUAN, PUERTO RICO (BNO NEWS) — A Puerto Rican man was arrested by federal agents, 25 years after robbing $7 million from a Wells Fargo Depot in Connecticut, officials said on Wednesday.

Norberto Gonzalez-Claudio, 65, allegedly participated in the September 12, 1983 armed robbery of the Wells Fargo Depot in Hartford, Connecticut in which $7 million were taken.

According to the FBI, Gonzalez-Claudio is believed to be a member of the clandestine domestic terrorist organization known as Ejercito Popular Boricua-Los Macheteros, a group which has claimed responsibility for several murders, armed robberies, and terrorist bombings.

On Tuesday morning, at around 10:30 a.m. local time, FBI agents arrested Gonzalez-Claudio in Cayey, Puerto Rico, 25 years after a federal arrest warrant was released for him, almost two years after an arrest warrant was released for on August 23, 1985 for the Wells Fargo incident. That year, 14 of the 16 suspects were arrested, all supposed members of Los Macheteros terrorist group.

The arrest warrant was based on obstruction of commerce by robbery and conspiracy. If convicted on these charges, Gonzalez-Claudio would face up to approximately 275 years of imprisonment.

However, less tan one year later, on March 21, 1986, another federal arrest warrant was issued in New Haven, Connecticut charging Gonzalez-Claudio with bank robbery, aggravated robbery, theft from interstate shipment, foreign and interstate transportation of stolen money, and conspiracy to interfere with commerce by robbery.

One person suspected of participating in the bank robbery, which marks one of the U.S.’ largest, remains at large. Manuel Gerena is currently on the FBI’s top ten most wanted and is thought to be in Cuba.

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NEW HAVEN, CONNECTICUT (BNO NEWS) — Police said Saturday that DNA from a man arrested in Connecticut on Friday confirmed that he is the “East Coast Rapist” who sexually abused more than a dozen women over a decade, the New Haven Register reported.

Aaron Thomas, 39, a former truck driver who lives in the city of New Haven with his girlfriend and her children, currently faces three rape counts. At a brief press conference, authorities said Thomas was charged with sexual assault in the first degree, burglary in the first degree and risk of injury to a minor and was being held on $1 million. He was also charged as a fugitive from justice in Prince William County, Virginia, with charges of rape, abduction and the use of a firearm in a felony. Thomas will be arraigned Monday.

Between 1997 and 2009, DNA confirmed the same man sexually assaulted or attempted to sexually assault 17 women in 12 incidents in Virginia, Maryland, Rhode Island and Connecticut. Authorities secretly picked up a cigarette butt discarded by Thomas and matched the DNA to that from the unsolved rapes. They had been following Thomas for several days, including to a court appearance Thursday in an unrelated larceny case, looking for an opportunity to secure a DNA sample, according to the New Haven Register.



Earlier this week, the FBI launched a digital billboard campaign in Connecticut, Virginia, Maryland and Rhode Island with a sketch of the perpetrator to solicit information from the public. Police have said the East Coast Rapist watched his victims, and used a gun, a knife, a broken bottle or a screwdriver in the attacks. All the attacks took place near major highways.


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MANHATTAN, NEW YORK (BNO NEWS) — A Raleigh, North Carolina woman on Monday was charged with the 1987 kidnapping of a baby girl from a Harlem hospital, prosecutors informed.

Annugetta Pettway, aka “Ann Pettway,” was arrested on Sunday in Bridgeport, Connecticut. On Monday, she admitted her role in the abduction of the baby girl in the Manhattan federal court.

Pettway, 49, was charged with kidnapping a 19-day-old girl from Harlem Hospital in Manhattan. On August 4, 1987, a mother and father brought their infant daughter to the hospital where she was admitted with fever.

In the early hours of the next day, hospital personnel discovered that the baby girl was missing. Pettway raised the child as her own. The victim, now aged 23, sought to obtain prenatal care for her own child earlier this month.

The victim, Carlina White, asked Pettway for identification documents, such as a birth certificate. The defendant said that she did not have identification documents for her because she had been given to her by a drug user.

White contacted the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) to research about missing children in the 1980′s. She was directed to a picture of a missing child from 1987 that resembled her baby pictures.

NCMEC contacted the victim with the parents that brought the missing girl to the Harlem Hospital in 1987. NYPD detectives obtained DNA samples from the parents and White in early January.

On January 18, 2011, the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner concluded that the DNA samples matched. FBI agents interviewed Pettway who said that she had troubles conceiving a child and had had several miscarriages.

The defendant also admitted going to Harlem Hospital, taking the baby girl with her by train to Bridgeport, and raising her there as her own. She also tried to produce fake birth certificates of the victim.

“Nothing can compensate Carlina White or her parents for what was stolen from them when she was seized from the Harlem Hospital 23 years ago,” said Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara. “But now they have been reunited, and the woman who allegedly kidnapped Carlina and deprived this family of the lives they would have had together will be prosecuted.”

Pettway faces a maximum sentence of life in prison and a minimum penalty of 20 years of imprisonment. She also faces a minimum fine of $250,000, if found convicted.

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FARMINGTON, CONNECTICUT (BNO NEWS) — Two men were arrested on Tuesday after breaking into rapper 50 Cent’s Connecticut home, TMZ.com reported. One of them was found drinking inside a closet.

A security guard called cops at around 6 a.m. local time on Tuesday when he observed a suspicious car on the driveway of the Farmington, Connecticut residence, which belongs to rapper 50 Cent.

When police officers arrived at the 52-room Farmington mansion, no signs of a forced entry were found. However, police later determined that the two burglars had accessed the grounds by climbing over a fence and entering through an unlocked door.

Curtis Jackson, better known as 50 Cent, was not in the residence at the time of the break-in. The criminals did not notice that officers had arrived at the scene and one of them, Alexander Hernandez, was found hiding in a closet, drinking a bottle of wine which he stole at the mansion.

The second suspect, identified as Santos Padilla, was found to be hiding in another part of the house, which was once owned by famous heavyweight boxer Mike Tyson. Both burglars were in possession of marijuana at the time of their arrest.

Hernandez was later released on a $50,000 bond and was turned over to New Britain police officers where he is wanted on outstanding warrants. Meanwhile, Padilla was held on a $50,000 bond.

The Queens hip hop mogul has not made any comment so far about the break-in of the 50,000-square-foot house, which he bought for $4.1 million in 2003. The 19-bedroom, 37-bathroom house is valued at $9,9 million and has a gym, billiards rooms, racquetball courts and a disco with stripper poles.

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HARTFORD, CONNECTICUT (BNO NEWS) — JetBlue Airways on Wednesday announced the launch of a low-fare, twice daily service out of Hartford Connecticut’s Bradley International Airport to both Fort Lauderdale/Hollywood International Airport and Orlando International Airport.

The new service will be JetBlue’s 63rd destination and will allow customers to conveniently connect to other destinations in the Caribbean and Latin America, such as San Juan, Puerto Rico; Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic; Bogota, Colombia; and Cancun, Mexico.

“We are very excited to add this long-requested service to Connecticut today,” said Rob Maruster, COO of JetBlue Airways. “With the introduction of our award-winning service between Hartford, Florida and beyond, complete with assigned seating, the most legroom in coach, personal seatback TVs, and a convenient schedule, we know JetBlue will be a hit in Hartford.”

JetBlue’s service to Florida will be operated by JetBlue’s fleet of Airbus A320 aircraft.

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NEW HAVEN, CONNECTICUT (BNO NEWS) — Connecticut killer and rapist Steven Hayes was sentenced to death on Monday for his role in the brutal murder of a woman and her two daughters in Cheshire in 2007.

The verdict was reached before noon after the jury spent deliberating on the case since Friday. Hayes was found guilty on 16 out of 17 charges on October 5. He was convicted of killing Jennifer Hawke-Petit and her two daughters, Hayley and Michaela, during a brutal home invasion.

Hayes’ lawyers argued that he should be spared the death penalty because his mental capacity was significantly impaired, but prosecutors said that the death penalty is fair due to the nature of the crime. Hayes, 47, and his co-conspirator Joshua Komisarkevsky tormented the family for seven hours before killing them.

Hayes and Komisarjevsky in 2007 broke into a home in Cheshire where the pair almost beat the husband to death and tied him up. Hayes then forced the wife, Jennifer Hawke-Petit, to withdraw $15,000 in cash from her bank. After returning home, he raped her before killing her.

Meanwhile, Komisarjevsky sexually assaulted eleven-year-old Michaela. After the assaults, the criminals poured gasoline on Michaela and her 17-year-old sister Hayley. The children were tied to the bed while the two co-conspirators set them on fire. The father, Petit, was the lone survivor after recovering from his head wounds.

Hayes was convicted of 16 counts, including six capital felony charges, three murder counts and two charges of sexually assaulting Hawke-Petit.

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STAMFORD, CONNECTICUT (BNO NEWS) — Vince McMahon, the chairman of World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE), on Monday night gave the last push to his wife’s, Linda, Senate race for Connecticut.

On Monday Night Raw, WWE’s record-breaking television broadcast, Vince McMahon appeared in a comedy sketch that had implicit political messages. The WWE chairman had not appeared on the live broadcast since April.

McMahon surprisingly reappeared on Monday Night Raw in a sketch along actor Freddie Prinze Jr., who played a doctor who was examining McMahon who was in a coma. Prinze is tending the WWE chairman, who is dressed in a hospital gown, and tells him about his wife’s Senate race and the $50 million spent in her campaign.

After learning the amount of money, McMahon suddenly awakes from the coma and questions Prinze about the price tag. After he remove the bed clothing, McMahon discovers he was covered with “Linda for Senate” bumper sticks.

During the sketch, McMahon said he hated politics and when realizing that his wife may be a future Senator, he said he might run for President. After that, he went out of the room and a big campaign poster of Linda’s opponent, Democrat Richard Blumenthal, is covering his buttocks.

Linda McMahon’s Senate campaign has been marred with criticism towards the WWE. Blumenthal and his associates have continuously attacked the McMahons for promoting a violent show that is intended for children and young viewers.

Linda was the CEO of WWE until last fall, when she resigned her post to begin her Senate campaign. Vince McMahon has not been involved publicly in the campaign but he recently won a decision that allowed Connecticut voters to wear WWE apparel in the polls.

This is not the first time that Vince Mc Mahon has used WWE’s broadcasts to promote or defend Linda’s campaign. A few weeks ago, Vince, through a video, urged WWE fans to defend the company from opposition attacks and show support in any form, especially using social networks.

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NEW HAVEN, CONNECTICUT (BNO NEWS) – Steven Hayes, the rapist and killer who participated in the brutal murder of a woman and her two daughters, was found guilty on 16 out of 17 charges on Tuesday, prosecutors said. He may now face the death penalty.

Hayes, 47, was involved in the brutal murder of a woman and her two daughters. Hayes along with suspect Joshua Komisarjevsky broke in 2007 into a home in Cheshire where the pair beat the husband almost to death and tied him up.

Hayes then forced the wife, Jennifer Hawke-Petit, to withdraw $15,000 in cash from her bank. After returning home, he raped her before killing her. Meanwhile, Komisarjevsky sexually assaulted eleven-year-old Michaela.

After the assaults, the criminals poured gasoline on Michaela and her 17-year-old sister Hayley. The children were tied to the bed while the two co-conspirators set them on fire. The father, Petit, was the lone survivor after recovering from his head wounds.

On October 18, the jurors will determine if Hayes will be sentenced to the death penalty. Hayes accused Komisarjevsky of escalating the violence and provoking the sexual assaults. However, prosecutors rejected the argument and said the two men were equally responsible for the crimes.

Hayes was convicted of 16 counts, including six capital felony charges, three murder counts and two charges of sexually assaulting Hawke-Petit. Prosecutors said that they want nothing less than the death penalty as the crime was cruel and depraved.

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HARTFORD, CONNECTICUT (BNO NEWS) — A Connecticut man has been charged with sending numerous hoax anthrax and bomb letters, prosecutors said Thursday.

43-year-old Roland Prejean, also known as “Gary Joseph Gravelle,” recently residing in Thomaston and Morris, Connecticut, was charged for allegedly sending more than 50 anthrax hoax and bomb threat letters to private individuals, post offices, state and federal buildings, judges, and other state and federal government officials around the country.

According to allegations, on or about September 3, while in Connecticut, Prejean began writing a series of threatening letters to numerous recipients including a private individual, a Connecticut probation officer and a Connecticut Superior Court Judge. 

In the letters, Prejean threatened to kill various individuals including a postal carrier from Thomaston, Connecticut; a judge in Salt Lake City, Utah; several individuals from the Connecticut Valley Hospital; a judge in Middletown, Connecticut; and a former roommate. He also mailed a threatening letter to the Thomaston, Connecticut Post Office.

The letter addressed to the Thomaston Post Office was received on September 7, in which Prejean allegedly threatened to kill a particular postal carrier as well as everyone in the Post Office. 

Prejean further claimed in the letter that he had planted a hidden bomb in the Thomaston Post Office, resulting in the evacuation of the office as well as the Thomaston Town Hall and a Thomaston Public School, which were in the immediate vicinity of the Post Office. 

Bomb technicians from the Connecticut State Police Emergency Services Unit searched the post office for explosive devices with negative results.

Additional letters received by victims in Connecticut in early September, included a threat to shoot and kill numerous employees at the Connecticut Valley Hospital and one with a substance that was represented to be “Liquid Anthrax.”

According to the allegations set forth in the federal criminal complaint, during a cross-country drive from Connecticut to North Dakota, Prejean sent more than 50 such threatening mailings to various recipients nationwide. 

In some of the letters he placed a white powder that he represented to be anthrax, but which was, in fact, baby or talcum powder. 

Thirty-four threatening letters and 17 threatening postcards that Prejean attempted to mail from North Dakota were intercepted before delivery. 

Six of the 34 letters contained a powder inside the envelope, while one contained some sort of paste. To date, analysis of the substances contained in the mailings have proved negative for any biological or chemical agents.

Prejean was arrested and remains in custody after he turned himself in to law enforcement authorities in North Dakota on September 7. 

He is charged in the federal criminal complaint with mailing threatening communications, and with making threats, through the use of the mail, to kill, injure or intimidate any individual, or to damage or destroy any building by means of an explosive. 

If convicted, Prejean faces a maximum term of imprisonment of 10 years on each individual charge.

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