THURSDAY EVENING UPDATE

CMEEC BOARD MEMBERS INDICTED

Five board members of the Connecticut Municipal Electric Energy Cooperative, including the retiring General Manager of Norwich Public Utilities, have been indicted by the FBI in connection with the Derbygate scandal. Indictments unsealed Thursday in Federal Court in New Haven charge NPU chief John Bilda, CMEEC Chief Executive Officer Drew Rankin, CMEEC Norwich representative Jim Sullivan, Groton city representative to CMEEC Edward Demuzzio, and CMEEC Chief Financial Officer Edward Pryor, with conspiracy, theft from a program receiving federal funds, and aiding and abetting the theft. The action stems from CMEEC-sponsored expensive trips to the Kentucky Derby between 2013 and 2016 for board members. staff, public officials, spouses, and other guests. The money came from a revenue fund intended to stabilize electric rates. The two-year FBI investigation concludes the indicted individuals knowingly made misleading statements about the trips to the public and the media, once they became public knowledge. NPU spokesman Chris Riley says he can’t comment directly on the indictments, but says NPU has cooperated fully with the FBI investigation. All five defendants pleaded not guilty Thursday, and are out on bail.  Meanwhile, a California congresswoman whose husband has been indicted in the CMEEC case,  is citing an “unexpected family matter� in withdrawing as a candidate for chair of the Democratic Caucus. U.S. Rep. Linda Sanchez is married to Jim Sullivan.

PROTESTING SESSIONS FIRING

A protest was held  in Willimantic tonight against President Donald Trump’s firing yesterday of U-S Attorney General Jeff Sessions. The ‘Trump is Not Above the Law Coalition�  sponsored the gathering   at the corner of Jackson and Main Streets, across from the Frog Bridge.  It was  part of a nationwide protest against the firing of Sessions.  Opponents of the President’s decision claim he is trying to subvert the investigation  of special prosecutor Robert Mueller into possible Russian interference in the 2016 election. The interim successor to Sessions, Matthew Whitaker, has been critical of the investigation, and would now be overseeing it.

SOME STATE RACES STILL UNDECIDED

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) – The final makeup of the new Connecticut General Assembly remains unclear.  Secretary of the State Denise Merrill’s office announced Thursday there will be four recounts, triggered by close tallies. The list includes the seat held by Democratic House Speaker Joe Aresimowicz  of Berlin. His district also includes Southington.  Initial results from The Associated Press show Aresimowicz with a 37-vote lead over Republican Michael Gagliardi.  Meanwhile, the Connecticut Democrats are threatening legal action regarding the 17th Senate district, which includes Ansonia, Beacon Falls, Bethany, Derby, Hamden and Naugatuck. Initial results from AP showed Democratic challenger Jorge Cabrera leading Republican Sen. George Logan by 132 votes. But an apparent transcription error has given Logan a narrow lead.  Recounts are also planned in House districts that include Stratford and Durham and Madison.

NO EXPECTED CHANGES AT THE TOP

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) – The leadership of the Connecticut General Assembly will be familiar next year.  All top Democratic and Republican leaders are expected to hold the same positions when the new legislative session begins in January. Senate Democrats on Thursday unanimously re-elected Senate President Pro Tempore Martin Looney of New Haven and Senate Majority Leader Bob Duff of Norwalk to lead their caucus. Speaker of the House Joe Aresimowicz  of Berlin and House Majority Leader Matt Ritter of Hartford are expected keep their same leadership roles as well. Aresimowicz, however, faces a recount in his close race for re-election. Initial results show he leads his Republican challenger Michael Gagliardi by 37 votes. Republicans are again backing House Minority Leader Themis Klarides  and Senate Minority Leader Len Fasano as their leaders.

NL WOMAN SENTENCED ON DRUG CHARGES

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) – A woman who authorities say was part of a drug trafficking ring that brought large amounts of cocaine into Connecticut from Puerto Rico has been sentenced to 18 months in prison. Connecticut U.S. Attorney John Durham says Alba Filomeno-Gomez, of New London, was sentenced Wednesday in federal court in Hartford. Local and federal authorities say multi-pound shipments of cocaine were sent through the U.S. mail from Puerto Rico to various Connecticut locations. Officials say they seized more than 26 pounds  of cocaine. Authorities say the 23-year-old Filomeno-Gomez accepted some of the packages and was a courier for drugs and money. She pleaded guilty in July to a cocaine conspiracy charge. Her lawyers say she has serious mental health and drug addiction problems stemming from a difficult childhood.

SCRATCH-OFF ADDICTION

A former overnight cashier at the Henny Penny convenience store in Niantic has admitted to stealing more than 78-hundred dollars worth of scratch-off lottery tickets from the business.  35-year old Lindsay Rochette has been charged with second-degree larceny and first-degree computer crime. Police says she admits to having a gambling problem.  Rochette began working at the store in August of last year.  Police say she would make fraudulent returns of items that hadn’t been purchased to try to cover the cost of the tickets.   She was arrested Tuesday, and police say she’s willing to do whatever necessary to correct the situation.

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