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Connecticut State Police Patch STATE OF CONNECTICUT
Department of Public Safety
1111 Country Club Road
Middletown, Connecticut 06457
 
Contact: 
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 14, 2008

State Police Troopers from

TroopS A, B, G AND L

Receive Service Awards

   State Police Troopers from Troop A in Southbury, Troop B in North Canaan, Troop G in Bridgeport and Troop L in Litchfield received awards for service during a ceremony November 14 at the Connecticut State Police Training Academy in Meriden.

   Twice a year, the Connecticut State Police honors Troopers who demonstrate bravery and outstanding service in the line of duty.  The ceremony also honors men and women serving in local and federal law enforcement agencies, those serving as first responders and civilians.  Award winners received medals and certificates from Department of Public Safety Commissioner John A. Danaher III and State Police Colonel Thomas Davoren.

   Awards were presented in four categories:

Ø      The Meritorious Service Medal is awarded to any person who renders service with a high degree of alertness, perseverance and superior judgment in the performance of a difficult task resulting in the protection of life, recovery of property, the prevention of – or solving of – a major crime or the apprehension of an armed or dangerous person.

Ø      The Lifesaving Award is presented to any person who saves a human life or makes a valiant attempt to save a life.

Ø      The Outstanding Service Award is given to any person who successfully performs an extreme, complex or difficult investigation. The person also may demonstrate exceptional skill or ingenuity in the apprehension of a wanted person, provide outstanding service to the public and or continuously achieves excellence in performance of duties over an extended period of time.

Ø      The Unit Citation is awarded to members of a department, a command or group who combine their resources to achieve success in an investigation or event. The citation recognizes exceptional collective efforts.

         Awards were presented to:

Trooper First Class John Collins and Trooper First Class Timothy McAlpin, Troop L

   On March 30, 2008, Troop L received notice from the New Britain Police Department regarding a motor vehicle operator wanted in connection with a home invasion, sexual assault and possible homicide. The operator was considered armed and dangerous.

   Trooper Collins positioned himself at Exit 39 on Route 8 and observed Plymouth Police Officers in pursuit of the wanted motor vehicle. Due to Trooper Collins’ quick thinking, he was able to block the bottom of the exit ramp, protecting any vehicle exiting Route 8.  The motor vehicle passed Trooper Collins, remaining on Route 8.  Trooper Collins entered the pursuit as the lead vehicle and continued to pursue the vehicle as it left the highway at exit 38.

   The wanted vehicle entered Route 6 and Trooper Collins continued to pursue the car at high speeds as it headed into Watertown. Upon hearing this location, Trooper McAlpin positioned himself near the intersection of Routes 6 and 63 in Watertown. The wanted vehicle entered Route 63, where Trooper McAlpin joined the pursuit and took over all radio communications.  The vehicle made a wide left turn and struck the rear of another vehicle, then rolled onto its roof.  Troopers Collins and McAlpin apprehended the suspect.

   Trooper Collins and Trooper McAlpin were presented with the medal for Meritorious Service.

TFC Edward Benecchi, Sgt. Michael Alogna, Sgt. Robert Desmarais, Troop G; Fairfield Police Sgt. Jeffrey Bloch, Fairfield Police Officer Sean Fenton, Fairfield Police Officer Edward Kovac, Fairfield Police Officer Charles Ricco; Westport Police Sgt. Fotios Koskinas, Westport Police Officer Sean Kelley and Westport Police Officer Ryan Paulson 

   On April 20, 2008, Maine State Police were looking for a stolen motor vehicle occupied by an armed male who was a suspect in a homicide and kidnapping in Maine.  Trooper Benecchi took a post on I-95 South and spotted the vehicle in question.  He followed it until receiving back-up from Officer Paulsson,  Sergeant Koskinas and Officer Kelley of the Westport Police Department and Sergeant Bloch, Officer Fenton, Officer Ricco and Officer Kovac of the Fairfield Police Department. 

   The vehicle engaged officers in a pursuit with speeds up to 90 mph.  Trooper Benecchi manuevered in front of the vehicle just north of exit 13 and the vehicle came to a stop.  Troopers and Officers surrounded the suspect vehicle, including Sergeant Desmarais and Sergeant Alogna, who arrived on scene. 

   The suspect was in the passenger seat with the vehicle being operated by a female.  The suspect was armed with a handgun and, after repeated orders to drop the weapon, he turned the handgun and shot himself. 

   Troopers and Officers removed him from vehicle and provided medical aid, but he later succumbed to the self-inflicted wound.  The female was removed from the vehicle uninjured.

   All Troopers and Officers were presented with the award for Meritorious Service.

Trooper First Class Aaron Huntsman, Troop G; Shelton Police Sergeant Peter W. Zaksewicz

   On May 4, 2008, at approximately 2 a.m., Troop G received numerous 911 calls reporting a wrong way driver on Route 25.  Trooper Huntsman immediately entered Route 25 to position himself to intercept the wrong way driver.  

   The wrong way driver continued north in the southbound lanes on Route 25/Route 8 reaching the vicinity of exit 11.  Trooper Huntsman was driving north on Route 8 and observed the tail lights of a vehicle traveling the wrong way on Route 8 southbound.  Trooper Huntsman attempted to alert the wrong way driver by utilizing his spotlight but was unsuccessful.  He accelerated to exit 12 and entered Route 8 southbound putting himself in direct path of the wrong way driver. 

   Trooper Huntsman took position in the left lane while Sergeant Zaksewicz took position in the right lane.  With their emergency lights activated, they slowed the motoring public behind them and proceeded south on Route 8.  They observed the wrong way driver approaching in the left lane and it appeared that the vehicle was not going to stop.  All available emergency lights on their cruisers were activated and finally the wrong way driver stopped within several feet of Trooper Huntsman’s vehicle. The accused was taken into custody without further incident and later faced numerous charges, including driving under the influence.  

   Trooper Huntsman and Sgt. Zaksewicz were presented with the award for Meritorious Service.

Bridgeport Police Officer Angel Perez, Retired Bridgeport Police Officer Herbert Gullberg and Judicial Marshal James W. Fraulo 

   On March 15, 2008, at 1 p.m., Troop I received 911 calls reporting a possible assault taking place on Route 8 in Derby. 

   Off-duty Bridgeport Police Officer Perez and retired Bridgeport Police Officer Gullberg came upon the assault in progress.  When the accused failed to respond to Officer Perez’ verbal commends to stop, both Perez and Gullberg physically stopped the accused, disarmed him and subdued him until the accused was taken into custody.

   Judicial Marshal Fraulo came upon the scene, retrieved his personal first aid kit and treated the victim’s injuries, including correcting a restricted airway and bandaging the victim’s severe open wounds. The investigation revealed that a metal club-type locking device was used by the accused to assault the victim, who suffered a life-threatening head injury.  The accused was charged with attempted murder and first degree assault.

   Officers Perez and Gullberg were presented the award for Meritorious Service; Judicial Marshal Fraulo earned the award for Lifesaving.

Trooper Walter Oliveira, Troop G  

   On July 14, 2008 the Norwalk Police Department broadcast a description of a vehicle that was involved in a violent home invasion that occurred in their town and was traveling on I-95 southbound in the area of exit 14.  Three occupants from the residence were stabbed with a knife.  The suspects – believed to be one male and three females – fled in a vehicle with a Massachusetts registration plate. 

   Trooper Oliveira took a post on I-95 southbound at exit 7 and a short time later, he observed a vehicle matching the description provided.  Trooper Oliveira initiated a motor vehicle stop south of exit 5.  Norwalk Police were notified and confirmed that the occupants in the vehicle stopped by Trooper Oliveira were the assailants. 

   Trooper Oliveira was presented the award for Meritorious Service.

Trooper First Class Michael Dyki, Troop A  

   On May 28, 2008, at approximately 2:45 p.m., Trooper Dyki was on general patrol in the center of Milford.  As he passed by a church daycare, he was flagged down by a group of people. Trooper Dyki noticed a male lying on the ground and immediately stopped.  The group of people explained that the man had collapsed while mowing the grass of the church.

   Trooper Dyki attempted to gain a response from the man, but the man remained unresponsive and without a pulse. Trooper Dyki initiated CPR and after several chest compressions the man appeared to take a deep breath on his own, but still remained unresponsive. The Milford Fire Department/EMS arrived on the scene and took over. They immediately utilized an AED and then resumed CPR.

   After a few minutes the man resumed breathing on his own and was transported to a local hospital. It was learned that the man had suffered a heart attack, underwent emergency bypass surgery and was recovering.

   Trooper Dyki was awarded a Medal for Lifesaving.

Trooper First Class Thomas Calo, Troop B  

   On May 16, 2008, Trooper Calo had just arrived at his residence after completing his assigned shift when two neighborhood children knocked on the door of his home. The children were extremely upset and stated that their grandmother was lying down and would not wake up.

   Trooper Calo and the children went to the victim’s residence. He found the woman lying on the ground in the front yard and retrieved a medical kit.  The woman was unresponsive and aspirating on vomit in her mouth and on her face. Trooper Calo immediately cleared her airway and called Troop L for medical assistance. He maintained her airway until an advanced life support unit arrived and transported her to the hospital.

   Trooper Calo was awarded a Medal for Lifesaving.

Trooper Dominic Goguen, Troop B  

   On January 25, 2008, at approximately 3 a.m., Torrington Police were dispatched to a convenience store for a reported robbery. Two male subjects had entered the store, while a third male was the driver in a getaway vehicle. Torrington Police located the suspect vehicle unoccupied in Torrington.  At that point, the Torrington Police requested a canine team from the State Police. 

   Trooper Dominic Goguen and his K-9, Zeb, responded and successfully tracked the three wanted suspects to a residential neighborhood. The suspects had pulled lattice work off a deck so that they could crawl under in an attempt to evade detection by police. All three suspects were safely apprehended and connected to larcenies in three towns.

   Trooper Goguen was presented an Outstanding Service award.

Trooper First Class Shawn Higgins and Trooper First Class Steven Elovirta, Troop B  

   On June 15, 2008, at approximately 2:42 a.m., Trooper Higgins was on routine patrol in the Pleasant Valley section of Barkhamsted.  While conducting patrol checks in this area, he noticed a suspicious vehicle parked alongside a tree line behind the Town Hall adjacent to a general store.  Knowing that this store has been the scene of numerous nighttime burglaries, Trooper Higgins decided to investigate further. 

   When Trooper Higgins approached the vehicle, he observed a female asleep in the driver’s seat.  He called for backup and cautiously approached the entrance of the store when he heard the store’s front door swing open and the subjects exit the building.  Trooper Higgins immediately searched and secured the store for further perpetrators just as Trooper Elovirta arrived on scene.  Trooper Elovirta observed the suspicious vehicle turn its lights off and began to exit the area. 

   Trooper Elovirta instinctively blocked the exit and detained all three occupants until further assistance arrived.  A thorough scene search and investigation by Troopers Higgins and Elovirta uncovered numerous pieces of evidence linking all three suspects to the burglary and their subsequent arrest. 

   Trooper Higgins and Elovirta were presented an Outstanding Service award.

Sgt. Timothy Osika, Sgt. Kevin Stratton, Trooper First Class Cory Genestski, Trooper First Class Michael Gravel, Trooper First Class Jack Vegliante, Trooper Sean Connolly, Dispatcher Betsy Brennan, Dispatcher Valerie Hull of Troop A; Woodbridge Officer Richard Monaco; New Haven Sgt. John Rodican, Jr., New Haven Officer Carey Broderick, New Haven Officer Brian Donnelly, New Haven Officer Ann-Marie Laporta; and civilian David Dionne  

   On June 15, 2008, a bank robbery occurred at a bank located inside a supermarket in Southbury.  A lone male fled the scene in a black sedan. An employee of the supermarket, David Dionne, followed the suspect into the parking lot and obtained a description of the getaway car. A description of the vehicle and the suspect was broadcast. Trooper Genetski located the vehicle a short time later on Route 67 in Oxford.  The vehicle failed to stop and a pursuit was initiated.

   Trooper Genetski and Seymour Police pursued the vehicle into Woodbridge, where Trooper Genetski lost sight of the vehicle. Officer Monaco of the Woodbridge Police Department and State Police Sgt. Stratton located the vehicle and resumed the pursuit. The pursuit continued into New Haven where it was joined by Trooper Connolly and New Haven Sgt. Rodican, Officer Broderick, Officer Donnelly and Officer Laporta.

   The pursuit ended after the suspect struck another car in New Haven.  The suspect was taken into custody and the cash proceeds from the bank robbery were recovered. The combined efforts of the troopers and officers involved in the pursuit, the efforts of the supermarket employee to obtain a description of the vehicle and the efforts of Sgt. Osika, Trooper Gravel, Dispatcher Brennan and Trooper Vegliante to organize and coordinate this lengthy high speed pursuit led to the successful apprehension of the suspect and recovery of the stolen property.

   All law enforcement personnel were awarded Outstanding Service awards; Civilian Dionne earned a Commissioner’s Recognition Award.

Detective Richard Van Tine, Sgt. Robert J. Kenney, Sgt. James Dolan, Trooper Jack Kulig, Det. Richard Van Tine, Det. Carmine Verno, Det. Daniel Crowley, Motor Vehicle Fraud Task Force; DMV Inspector James Frechette, DMV Inspector Chris Gilroy, DMV Inspector John Kiska, DMV Examiner Lori Druan, DMV Lt. Anthony Verillo; Special Agent Grace Wisniewski, ICE  

   For six months, the Motor Vehicle Fraud Task Force (MVFTF) investigated a driving school in Stratford. The investigation began in October 2007 in a cooperative effort with the Department of Motor Vehicles and the Federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency, known as ICE.

Task Force members investigated complaints that the driving school was getting Connecticut licenses for illegal aliens who were not eligible to obtain licenses. Most of the illegal aliens were from Poland so police of Polish origin served as interpreters. The criminal investigation was conducted by MVFTF, while DMV conducted a parallel administrative investigation. ICE provided immigration background and alien status for all suspects.

   Investigators discovered that the driving school had Polish immigrants complete all of the required training and testing to obtain driver’s licenses.  The school submitted forged immigration and identification documents stating that the driving students are college students who had their immigration status changed to Student Visa, allowing them to be eligible to obtain licenses. Nearly all of the letters and immigration documents were found to be forged or counterfeit.  DMV revoked all of the licenses.

   In January 2008, Det. Van Tine and MVFTF members obtained and executed search and seizure warrants at the home and business of the driving school and the residence of the school’s owner/operator. Hundreds of business records were seized, as well as many forged and counterfeit identification and immigration documents. More than $35,000 in cash as proceeds from the illegal activities was also seized.

   Det. Van Tine obtained an arrest warrant for the owner of the school. The owner was arrested for multiple charges including racketeering and 50 separate forgery counts. In July 2008, the owner was convicted in the case and sentenced to 14 years of incarceration.

   Det. Van Tine earned an Outstanding Service Award; all others involved earned the Unit Citation Award.

Trooper First Class Paul Comesanas, Trooper John Myer, Troop G, Bridgeport; Westport Police Department, Norwalk Police Department  

   On April 10, 2008, at approximately 2:29 a.m., an officer from the Westport Police Department initiated a motor vehicle stop.  As the officer approached the vehicle, the rear hatch sprung open and a man armed with what appeared to be a rifle began firing at the officer.  The officer was struck several times and ran for cover while urgently requesting assistance.  The vehicle then rapidly drove away from the scene.

   Responding officers determined that the officer had been struck with paint balls from a paint ball rifle.  The vehicle was soon located and pursued by Westport Police into the town of Norwalk, where the vehicle struck a stone wall.  Three male occupants fled from the vehicle on foot. 

   Norwalk Police requested canine assistance and Trooper Comesanas and his canine partner, Neo, responded to the scene, along with Trooper Myer.  They began a dog track leading through Norwalk into Westport.  The track culminated in the discovery and apprehension of two of the suspects, well hidden within construction trailers in a commuter lot.  After the long and exhaustive track, Troopers Comesanas and Myer, along with Neo, commenced another track to find the third suspect at large, yielding no results.

   The two suspects were taken into custody by Westport Police and charged with multiple criminal and motor vehicle charges including larceny of a motor vehicle, assault with a firearm, criminal trespass, carrying a weapon in a motor vehicle and assault on a Police Officer. 

   Trooper Comesanas and Trooper Myer earned Outstanding Service Awards; all other involved earned the Unit Citation Award.

Sgt. John Mucherino, Sgt. Thomas Bennett, Trooper Brian Marino, Det. Dane Hassan, Statewide Narcotics Task Force; New Milford Investigator Scott Flockhart; Seymour Det. Dedrick Wilcox  

   In January 2008, Members of the Statewide Narcotics Task Force Northwest Field Office initiated an investigation into marijuana trafficking in the New Milford area.  This investigation led to the arrest of an individual who was trafficking in marijuana.

   Detectives furthered this investigation and arrested the supplier of this individual.  The supplier was in possession of three pounds of marijuana and more than $10,000 in cash.  Detectives then focused on this individual’s supplier.  A search and seizure warrant was obtained for a residence in Meriden.  There, officers seized more than 220 pounds of marijuana, more than $160,000 in cash and a 2008 Cadillac Deville. The marijuana in this case had a street value of more than $572,000.

   In March 2008, SNTF members developed information from the arrest of a female who was in possession of 300 bags of heroin. They identified a heroin trafficking organization operating in the Goshen area.  A search was conducted at a Goshen residence, where they arrested a couple found to be trafficking approximately 1,000 bags of heroin a week.  SNTF personnel continued their investigation and were able to negotiate a heroin transaction with the supplier of these two individuals.  That supplier was found to be in possession of 4,000 bags of heroin with a street value of $800,000.       

   The SNTF members apprehended six individuals and recovered illicit drugs with a combined street value of more than three quarters of a million dollars.

   All involved earned Outstanding Service Awards.

Inspector Michael Klatt, Trooper Corey Etters, Trooper First Class John Jacobi and Trooper First Class John Barone of the State Police Traffic Services Unit  

   On July 16, 2008, Weight & Safety Inspector Michael Klatt observed a tractor trailer that failed to pull into the I-95 Northbound Greenwich Weigh Station, while the station’s “Open” lights were illuminated.  Inspector Klatt radioed a description of the tractor trailer to Trooper Etters.  Trooper Etters located the tractor trailer and conducted a motor vehicle stop in the town of Greenwich. 

   The vehicle was escorted back to the weigh station for inspection.  The vehicle was occupied by the operator, a co-driver, and a passenger not associated with the trucking company.  The occupants were separated and interviewed by Trooper Etters, Trooper Jacobi, and Trooper Barone.  During the interview process, the accounts by all occupants of where they had been prior to entering Connecticut did not match. 

   A federal inspection of the vehicle and its operators was conducted, revealing that the commercial trailer was reported stolen out of Glendale, Arizona.  The operator consented to a search of the vehicle.  While searching the vehicle, Troopers discovered a bag containing eleven bricks of marijuana weighing approximately 50 pounds under the sleeper berth bunk.  A large knife was also found in the passenger compartment.  The occupants were placed under arrest and the tractor and trailer were seized.

   All involved earned Outstanding Service Awards.

Trooper First Class Jason Uliano, Trooper Cono D’Elia, Troop L  

   On August 11, 2007, a female teenager was jogging in the Town of Litchfield.  She was approached by a male driving a pickup truck, with a dog in the bed of the truck.  The suspect drove by the jogger several times before asking her to get into his truck.  She declined the offer and continued jogging; he stopped the pickup truck in the road and ran after her. He forced her to the ground, at which time the victim screamed and resisted, causing the suspect to release her, return to his pickup truck and drive off.  The victim called 911 from her cell phone and fled into the nearby wooded area where she hid until help arrived.

   Trooper Uliano and Trooper D’Elia arrived on scene.  From the victim, they obtained facts and a description of the suspect and his vehicle.  Based on this information, Troopers D’Elia and Uliano identified a suspect. They arrived at the home of the suspect and found a vehicle consistent with the description provided by the victim.  Subsequent investigation and interviews resulted in the arrest of the suspect. 

   Troopers Uliano and D’Elia earned Outstanding Service Awards for their swift investigation.

Christopher Capowich, Joshua Woodin, Michael Woodin 

   On March 21, 2008, the Orange County Sheriff’s Office in Florida received an emergency call reporting that a three-year-old boy had fallen into a swimming pool.  Additional reports indicated that the child remained lifeless at the deep end of the pool. The boy’s family came to his aid, but their rescue attempts were unsuccessful.

   Christopher Capowich, Joshua Woodin and Michael Woodin, all Northwest Connecticut residents, were nearby when they heard the family’s frantic screams for help.  The three young men scaled a six-foot high chain-link fence, ran across a field, and then scaled another fence in order to reach the victims’ home. 

   Joshua Woodin immediately dove into the pool and retrieved the lifeless body of the little boy.  Without hesitation, Capowich and Michael Woodin began to perform CPR on the victim.  The boy had been under water for approximately five minutes before being pulled out.  After several minutes of CPR, the little boy began breathing on his own again.  He was transported to a local hospital and eventually made a full recovery.

   Christopher Capowich, Joshua Woodin and Michael Woodin received the Trooper James Lambert Award, presented to youth under the age of 21 who perform extraordinary service to the public.

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