Comments Off on Crimes were big news in 2018

Local crime news made major headlines in 2018. In fact, stories about arrests and courts were four of The Bulletin’s top 10 stories of the year, including the top two.
A fired coach at Norwich Free Academy was accused of having sexual relations with two students while he was at the school, and Norwich police say they expect NFA officials may be arrested as well for failing to report him immediately.
Five current or former members of the Connecticut Municipal Electric Energy Corp. were indicted on federal charges related to lavish Kentucky Derby trips taken over four years.
A Hartford brother and sister were arrested on charges they brutally murdered three members of a Griswold family.
At Montville High School, a substitute teacher was accused of running slap fights in his class, and three administrators were charged with failing to report it.
There were plenty of other crime headlines in 2018 as well. Among them:
– Elmar Baker, 38, fatally stabbed Jo-Jo Kolodnicki, 42, of Montville, during a fight Oct. 30 outside Baker’s Colchester home, according to police.
Apparently jealous, Kolodnicki, who was a postal carrier and painter well-known and liked in the Norwich arts community, followed Baker and his wife, who had worked together that day, and then started the fight, Kolodnicki’s wife and Baker told police.
Baker is charged with murder in the slaying.
– James Hodgdon, a 58-year-old Norwich man, was sentenced in May to 22.5 years in prison for shooting and killing his wife, Dianna Ruthewicz Hodgdon, during a struggle over a shotgun in September 2015.
“He wanted to get it away from her, and it went off, and she was killed,” Public Defender Fred DeCaprio, who defended Hodgdon, said at the sentencing. “In my view, the pulling of the trigger was not anything that was intentional.”
“We have to punish those who kill,” said Judge Hillary Strackbein, who sentenced Hodgdon. “You took the life of this woman.”
– In August, Sterling resident Kevin Weismore was sentenced to 40 years in prison for the brutal killing of 18-year-old Todd Allen in December 2016.
The two men met to conduct what Allen thought was going to be a simple marijuana purchase. But instead of drugs, Weismore brought a knife that he used to repeatedly stab Allen before finally bludgeoning the prone teen with a rock, prosecutors said.
Cases remain unsettled against two Sterling men, Dustin Warren, 20, and David Howard, 21, who are accused of trying to stymie the murder investigation.
– Andrew Samuolis, a 39-year-old Willimantic man, went on trial in November and December before a three-judge panel.
Defense lawyer William Paetzold isn’t contesting the prosecution’s accusation that Samuolis fatally shot his father, shot and wounded a Willimantic police officer and fired on state troopers in 2013.
Rather, Judges Jack Fisher, Elliot Solomon and Arthur Hadden will decide in January whether Samuolis was sane at the time.
The judges’ ruling will decide whether Samuolis is remanded to prison, confined in a state psychiatric facility or a combination of both.
– An attorney is also considering pursuing an insanity defense for Tyree Davis, a 38-year-old Norwich man accused of setting a fire in a Greeneville building in January to possibly kill a former girlfriend.
The mixed commercial-residential building was occupied by four people at the time, police said, but no one was hurt in the fire and little damage was done.
Davis is accused of arson and attempted murder.
– Tyshawn McKethan, 36, of Norwich, was sentenced in October to three and a half years in prison for a crime spree in February.
He was accused of knocking down and kicking a woman in a Norwich bar, leading police on a chase that ended with him jumping out of his SUV in Lisbon and either falling in or jumping into the frigid Quinebaug River, then threatening to kill two nurses and blow up the emergency room where he was treated for exposure.
“You have an anger problem, and it gets the better of you,” Strackbein told him. “I just hope you can see anger doesn’t get you anywhere.”
– Police said in April, Paul Daniel Johnson, 35, of Voluntown, called the Narragansett Police Department and said he was going to blow up the Newport Bridge in Rhode Island. He was arrested by Connecticut state police on a charge of second-degree threatening.
– At the end of a four-week trial, Kristopher Prudhomme, 30, was found guilty in December of assaulting his roommate in their Norwich home in October 2016. He is scheduled to be sentenced in February.
Michael Lovering had both his legs amputated at the knees as a result of spending about 12 hours on his bedroom floor with them bent under him.
Prudhomme was enraged because Lovering admitted to him he had sex with Prudhomme’s girlfriend, according to police.
Thefts
– In April, Sean Simmons, 31, paid Benjamin Audet, 34, of Plainfield, to steal his dog, Vada, from the Plainfield Animal Control Office, police said. The German shepherd was being quarantined there after an incident in January during which Vada allegedly bit two children.
Police said Simmons planned the theft because he was moving from Plainfield to North Carolina, and that’s where he and the dog were found in July.
According to police, after Audet entered the facility, he was unable to steal Vada due to fear of it biting him, and Simmons ultimately had to help. Simmons was bit while stealing the dog, police said, and he then transported it to North Carolina. Vada was taken back to Connecticut, police said.
– In November, four people were arrested in connection to burglaries in 2017 during which police said $200,000 worth of copper wire was stolen from Fusion Paperboard, a closed paper mill in Sprague, and sold for scrap.
– State police were investigating a theft in August from Brooklyn Auto Sports, a used car dealership on Route 6, according to a press release. Both front doors were removed and stolen from a red 1988 Chevrolet Suburban.
– Norwich counselor Susan Britt, 47, was arrested in June on charges she billed the government-run Medicaid health care program nearly $200,000 in fraudulent claims through her home business, with more than half of the claims for herself and family members. The business, called An Inner Peace, provides counseling to patients with mental, behavioral and emotional disorders.
Following an investigation, state officials discovered Britt was “the highest paid professional counselor in Connecticut by far” in comparison to her peers, according to the arrest warrant, and despite her substantial Medicaid earnings she and three family members were themselves enrolled in Medicaid.
According to the warrant, Britt submitted fraudulent claims involving 17 patients totaling $91,042.68, and another $103,733.84 in fraudulent claims for herself and family members.
– Janise Gabco-Bowles, 37, of Montville, was arrested in March, accused of embezzling more than $55,000 from Kohl’s in Groton. Gabco-Bowles worked as the store’s supervisor in charge of preventing shoplifting, police said.
– Police said two workers at the Norwichtown McDonald’s teamed up to embezzle more than $30,000 between June and December 2017. Jolene Rochester, 30, and Patricia Dyer, 39, were arrested in May. Dyer worked as a cashier on the overnight shift and Rochester was her supervisor, police said.
In a similar case, Andrew Tourigny, 28, of Norwich, and Matthew Douglass, 33, of Sprague, the former manager and assistant manager working the night and early morning shift at a Norwichtown Dunkin’ Donuts, were arrested in July on charges they embezzled about $19,000.
Drugs
– In January, authorities charged Norwich Superior Court Judicial Marshal Adam Clark, 37, of Norwich, with possession and sale of narcotics after an investigation revealed drugs were being delivered daily to his unlocked car while he was working at the court.
Clarke pleaded guilty in Bridgeport federal court in October to one count of conspiracy to distribute, and to possess with intent to distribute heroin.
– Also that month, Kyle Wood, 24, of Plainfield, a passenger in a vehicle stopped by Plainfield police, had a glass crack pipe he had concealed in his pants fall down his leg to the ground, police said. Officers said they saw him trying to cover the pipe with his foot.
– In April, Alecia Capps, 25, of Brooklyn, was pulled over by Plainfield police for speeding. Police said they knew Capps for possessing and using drugs. She was taken to the police department so a strip search could be conducted, but police said she “decided to remove a sock from her vagina” that was found to contain fentanyl packaged for sale.
– Jeremy Hammer, 18, of Plainfield, a passenger in a Jeep that Plainfield police stopped for speeding in December, swallowed four bags of crack cocaine, police said. According to police, Hammer was taken to the Backus Emergency Room in Plainfield, where he regurgitated the bags and they were seized by officers.
Children at risk
– A Ledyard High School student was arrested in February after allegedly making a comment during a class about buying an assault rifle. Police did not release the student’s name.
“The offense is akin to joking about a bomb in the airport,” Principal Amanda Fagan wrote in a statement to parents. “One simply doesn’t do it.”
– Edward Kunkel, 33, of Jewett City, was arrested in June when police received a call that a 1-year-old child was wandering outside alone at night. Police said they found Kunkel unconscious in the open front doorway of a nearby home, apparently as the result of recent drug use.
– In June, Mary Holcomb, 60, of Killingly, was arrested after being accused of using a racial slur to describe several children at a beach at a Killingly swimming area while speaking with the children’s mother. Police said she was intoxicated and yelling.
– Norwich mother Dolma Dawa, 45, was arrested on a hot afternoon in July after she left her 1-year-old child unattended in a vehicle in the parking lot of a McDonald’s, police said. Police said the vehicle wasn’t running at the time of the incident and the windows were partially rolled down. Norwich police said they found Dawa inside the restaurant.
– Stephen Cardoza, 31, of Norwich, tried to coax a 9-year old girl into his truck in the area of 93 State Pier Road in New London on Aug. 3, according to New London police. The report said Cardoza told the girl he was sent by her mother to pick her up. The child immediately ran to the apartment of a family member who then contacted police. Cardoza was later charged with risk of injury to a minor, public indecency, third-degree criminal trespassing and breach of peace.
– Jeremy Renaud, 33, of Killingly, was arrested in October after police said he tried to film video of a minor who was changing in a bathroom in Killingly. According to police, prior to undressing, the minor found a cell phone propped up and actively recording in the bathroom.
– Jodi Anderson, 40, was charged with a pair of felonies in December for allegedly locking her 10-year-old son out of their home at a Killingly housing complex while she worked from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. When interviewed by police, the single mother said she could not control her child’s behavior and “he steals things from the house,” according to an arrest warrant.
Others
– Dana Gibson, 46, of Montville, was sentenced to probation in August, after admitting having an affair with an inmate that lasted five or six months while she was a nurse at the Corrigan-Radgowski Correctional Center.
– Todd Wakefield, 48, a Dayville firefighter, was arrested in December for allegedly being drunk and causing a disturbance a month earlier at the department’s Firefighters Banquet.
The arrest came almost 14 months after Wakefield was given a suspended prison sentence for threatening a woman and was his third arrest since April 2017.
– Montville-based State Police Trooper Sarah Starkey, 34, of Waterford, accused of a hit-and-run crash while driving drunk in Norwich in November, was admitted in December into an alcohol education program that will erase her charges in a year if she completes it successfully.
– Adam Viens, a 34-year-old Thompson man with a long criminal record, was arrested in September, accused of identifying himself as the commander of the Danielson state police barracks and offering to “take care” of a man’s drunken driving arrest in return for “beers and shrimp cocktail.”
– Ledyard police arrested John Reilly, a 53-year-old Queensbury, N.Y., man, after he got involved in a “loud argument” in the bar area at Two Trees Inn over television programming, police said. Authorities said he was intoxicated and had been swearing at other customers.
– Ashwin Ebeye, 36, of Framingham, Mass., led state police on a chase on Interstate 395 and Route 6 in Killingly and Brooklyn in April, police said. Once pulled over, Ebeye told police he thought he was in Springfield, Mass., on his way home to Framingham, police said. He failed a field sobriety test.
– In March, police were called to Superior Auto on Route 2 in Norwich when a car crashed into two cars parked there and the auto repair shop itself. No injuries were reported, but the cars and the building were damaged, police said.
– Finally, several local officials asked the Commonwealth of Virginia to grant a pardon to Lisbon-born Aaron Dwight Stevens, who was among 22 men who took part in John Brown’s 1859 raid on Harper’s Ferry, Va., that was an attempt to start an armed slave revolt.
Stevens was convicted of “advising slaves to rebel and make insurrection” and conspiring with others to do the same. He was hanged on March 16, 1860, a day after his 29th birthday.
“What he truly did, in today’s world, he would be lauded as a hero instead of vilified as a criminal,” said state Sen. Cathy Osten.

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