Connecticut State Police Patch STATE OF CONNECTICUT
Department of Public Safety
1111 Country Club Road
Middletown, Connecticut 06457
November 16, 2010

State Police Troopers from

TroopS C, D, E and K

Receive Service Awards

State Police Troopers from Troop C in Tolland, Troop D in Danielson, Troop E in Montville and Troop K in Colchester received awards for service during a ceremony November 16 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 Commissioner James M. Thomas and State Police Colonel Thomas Davoren.  Governor M. Jodi Rell addressed the award winners.

Awards were presented in four categories:

Ø  The Meritorious Service Medal is awarded to those who render 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 those who save a human life or make a valiant attempt to save a life.

Ø  The Outstanding Service Award is given to those who successfully perform an extreme, complex or difficult investigation. The person(s) also may demonstrate exceptional skill or ingenuity in the apprehension of a wanted person, provide outstanding service to the public and or continuously achieve 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:

Captain Louis J. Fusaro, Jr., Trooper First Class John Patterson, West Haven Police Sergeant Ronald Celentano   On April 3, 2010, at 8:25 p.m., Troop E, Mohegan Tribal Police and Casino Unit personnel learned of a suicidal woman who was involved in a domestic dispute in West Haven and en route to the Mohegan Sun Casino in Montville.

Casino Unit detectives learned that she was in possession of several handguns and had checked into a casino hotel room.  The detectives looked for the woman on the gaming floor while Troop E and Mohegan Tribal Police checked the casino grounds. 

Trooper Patterson and a Tribal Officer found the woman on a sidewalk drinking from a bottle of liquor.  They witnessed her place a pistol to her head.  Trooper Patterson alerted Troop E dispatch and arriving personnel established a perimeter to isolate the armed woman from casino patrons and employees.  Trooper Patterson then began negotiating with her, as did West Haven Sgt. Celentano, who was on scene investigating the original dispute.  The woman stated that she was going to take her life and she refused to put the pistol down. 

Lt. Fusaro arrived to begin negotiating with the woman and, after approximately 20 minutes, she was convinced to sit on a nearby curb.  She put the pistol in her waistband and sat down.  Seeing an opportunity to end the situation, Lt. Fusaro, Trooper Patterson and Sgt. Celentano rapidly approached the woman and restrained her, at which time Lt. Fusaro disarmed her.  The loaded pistol was cleared and a search located two other pistols in her hotel room. 

            Captain Fusaro, Trooper Patterson and Sgt. Celentano each earned a Meritorious Service Award.

Sgt.Jae Fontanella, Troop K, Dispatcher Kathleen Farley, Dispatcher Scott Owens 

On August 22, 2010, at approximately 11:39 a.m., a woman called Troop K to report that her ex-boyfriend was threatening to harm himself at his Franklin residence.  Responding Troopers set up a perimeter around the residence while Troop K dispatch maintained phone contact with the woman who was on another phone with the distraught man.  The man threatened to kill himself using knives, then threatened to hang himself and finally alluded to having a handgun.  A computer check revealed that the man had no criminal history and no firearms were registered to him.

Troopers observed the man running out of the rear of the house with a rope around his neck and a knife in each hand.  The man ran to a field behind the house while holding one knife to his throat, the other knife to his stomach and yelling for Troopers to shoot him.  Sgt. Fontanella approached to within 15 feet of the man and entered into a dialogue with him.  He convinced the man to surrender the knives and the man was taken into custody and transported to a local hospital. 

Sgt. Jae Fontanella earned a Meritorious Service Award, Troop K Troopers earned a Unit Citation Award, Dispatchers Kathleen Farley and Scott Owens earned Commissioner Recognition Awards.

Staffordville Firefighter Richard Harte, Staffordville Firefighter Lynn Grant, Stafford Police Sgt. James Desso, Mr. Kurt Simmons    On March 31, 2010, Stafford Police Sgt. Desso observed heavy black smoke and flames coming from a multi-family residence in Stafford.  Sgt. Desso alerted the Staffordville Fire Department and without hesitation or fire protection equipment, Sgt. Desso and civilian Kurt Simmons entered the burning building. 

They knocked on doors to wake and warn the residents of the fire.  They also forcibly entered apartments where they received no response in order to alert the occupants. They were able to assist three adults and one infant to safety.  The scene was deteriorating very quickly with thick black smoke and unbearable flames in the building.  

At the same time, Firefighters Grant and Harte located an occupant in the apartment where the fire had started.  To rescue this occupant, they had to bring the occupant through a bedroom window to safety. 

The quick lifesaving work of all involved prevented a tragedy from occurring. Their actions are in the highest tradition of the Connecticut State Police.

Firefighters Harte and Grant and Sgt. Desso earned a Lifesaving Award; Mr. Simmons earned a Commissioner's Recognition Award.

Trooper First Class Jeffrey Rhoades, Trooper Joshua McElroy, Trooper Erin Lowney   On May 10, 2010, Trooper Rhoades, Trooper McElroy and Trooper Lowney responded to Devil’s Hopyard State Park in East Haddam for a suicidal male who threatened to jump off the highest peak in the park.

Trooper Rhoades located the man’s vehicle and conducted a track with his canine, Argo, and Troopers McElroy and Lowney.  They located the man one-half mile away, standing on a cliff ledge.  Trooper Rhoades talked with the man, who consumed liquids from two containers he held.  The man became visibly agitated and made a cell phone call in which he became verbally abusive toward the person on the phone.  After the call, the man consumed more liquid, threw his cell phone and then jumped off the ledge.  He fell approximately thirty feet down the cliff and was knocked unconscious. 

Troopers McElroy and Lowney traversed an extremely steep and dangerous incline and found the man balanced precariously on a tree growth/ledge area.  Trooper McElroy held onto the man as Trooper Lowney secured his shoulders and head.  They provided medical support until the man regained consciousness and was freed from the ledge area.  He was carried out and transported to a local hospital.

Troopers Rhoades, McElroy and Lowney each earned a Lifesaving Award.

Trooper Justin Preuss   On May 28, 2010, at approximately 2 a.m., Trooper Preuss was assigned to desk duty at Troop D in Danielson. Through a video monitor, Trooper Preuss observed a prisoner in the Troop cell block tie a shirt to the cell bars and place a portion of the shirt around his neck. 

Trooper Preuss immediately responded to the cell block and interrupted the prisoner’s attempt to harm himself.  The prisoner sustained no injury from the incident and was transported to a local hospital for an evaluation.

Trooper Preuss’s vigilance and quick action prevented the serious injury or death of the prisoner.  He earned a Lifesaving Award for his actions.

Trooper First Class Timothy Begley    On January 6, 2010, at 12:47 a.m., Troop C received a report of a male yelling at a residence in Stafford.  Upon arrival at the scene, Trooper Begley observed an elderly man who had fallen through the ice and was standing in waist-deep water in a large stream.

The air temperature was 20 degrees and the stream was covered by a thin layer of ice.  The man was wearing only pajamas and a robe.  The man did not reply to Trooper Begley’s voice, so the Trooper ran down a steep embankment and jumped into the frigid water.   The man appeared was in the early stages of hypothermia; he was confused and was not speaking coherently.

Trooper Begley rescued the man out of the frigid water and up the steep embankment to safety. The man was then treated by EMS personnel and transported to a trauma center where he was treated for hypothermia.  After two days, the man was released from the hospital and contacted Trooper Begley to thank him for saving his life.

Trooper Begley earned Lifesaving Award.

Trooper Andrew Forbes, Trooper First Class Nicholas Leary  On August 24, 2010, at approximately 12:15 a.m., Trooper Forbes and Trooper Leary responded to a report of a despondent, possibly suicidal female on a bridge in the town of Canterbury.  Upon their arrival, the Troopers observed the woman on the catwalk below the bridge attempting to climb over the railing and jump off.

Trooper Forbes spoke with the woman to distract her while Trooper Leary tactically made his way to a position where he could prevent the woman from jumping or falling off the bridge.  As Trooper Leary was on the catwalk, the woman climbed over the edge of the catwalk and was holding on with her hands.  Trooper Leary grabbed her arms and pulled her up with the assistance of Trooper Forbes, saving her from certain injury or death.

Trooper Leary and Trooper Forbes each earned a Lifesaving Award.

Trooper First Class David Abely   On March 30, 2010, at 3:26 p.m., Trooper Abely responded to a vehicle that veered into a river in the town of North Stonington. 

At the scene, Trooper Abely observed a vehicle partially submerged in the river approximately 100 yards from the road.  Troop E had informed Trooper Abely that there was an elderly female and male trapped inside of the vehicle and water was flowing into the vehicle’s passenger compartment and over the hood of the vehicle.  This incident occurred during extreme rain and flooding that occurred in Southeastern Connecticut causing mass evacuations of neighborhoods and millions of dollars in damages. 

After Trooper Abely’s arrival, a firefighter was harnessed to a rope entered the river to pull the female from the vehicle.  During the fireman’s retreat from the vehicle with the female passenger, he became exhausted and the strong current caused them both to submerge under water.  Trooper Abely entered the river and was able to pull both the fireman and the passenger out of the water and safely return them to shore.  The male passenger was rescued from the vehicle by a fire department boat.

The actions of Trooper Abely were heroic and no doubt saved the two lives in highly treacherous conditions. He earned the Lifesaving Award.

East Lyme Officer Marc Comeau. East Lyme Detective Donald Marr   From October through December of 2009, the Town of East Lyme experienced a large number of residential burglaries.  East Lyme Police Officers and the Resident State Trooper’s Office worked together to develop suspects in these crimes. 
            On December 7, 2009, the East Lyme Burglary Task Force – consisting of East Lyme Detective Marr and Officer Comeau – was established to solve these crimes.  Det. Marr and Officer Comeau focused on the more recent burglaries, as well as on previous burglary cases that had been closed with no leads.  Det. Marr and Officer Comeau worked with several other agencies including the State Police Eastern District Major Crime Squad, the Waterford Police Department, the Groton Town Police Department, the New London State’s Attorney’s Office and the Connecticut Department of Probation. 

With their investigative skills, they were able to link several burglaries together and develop numerous suspects.  By the end of their assignment, Det. Marr and Officer Comeau investigated 62 residential burglaries and three commercial burglaries.  Due to their tenacity, 29 arrests were made and a large amount of stolen property was recovered.  In addition, they uncovered valuable information that was instrumental in securing several narcotics-related arrests.

Officer Comeau and Det. Marr earned the Award for Outstanding Service.

Trooper First Class Anthony Gordon, Sergeant James Kodzis, Trooper Phillip Gawronski, Sergeant Jeffrey Campbell, Dispatcher Susan Fisher, Troop C

On January 25, 2010 at 5:13 p.m., Troop C received a complaint from the Mansfield mother of a juvenile who was concerned that her son was mixing household chemicals and creating explosive materials.

Sgt. Campbell and Trooper Gawronski responded to the home, where the father explained that his son was creating explosives and detonating them in the backyard.  The father then showed Troopers his son’s chemistry set and the Troopers observed several unknown chemicals in unmarked containers.  In the basement, Sgt. Campbell discovered a small pile of a chalk-like substance placed on a napkin on a workbench.  The juvenile stated he created acetone peroxide and picric acid and placed this substance in the freezer.  Sgt. Campbell and Tpr. Gawronski immediately evacuated the family out of the basement.

The Emergency Services Unit responded to the scene and determined that the explosives in the house were extremely volatile and needed to be detonated at the scene.

Sgt. Campbell contacted Sgt. Kodzis, the Mansfield Resident Trooper Sergeant, and placed the Mansfield Emergency Operations Plan into effect.  Trooper First Class Andrea Cloutier and Trooper First Class James O’Donnell of Troop C physically checked every house within the neighborhood to assure everyone was safely evacuated.  They again checked every residence to assure everyone was safely relocated.

Trooper Gordon and Dispatcher Fisher were working desk operations – on an evening already extremely busy with emergency phone calls due to heavy rain earlier in the afternoon.  Trooper Gordon and Dispatcher Fisher relayed an exhaustive amount of information to several area agencies.

Through the coordinated efforts of Sgt. Campbell and Sgt. Kodzis, neighboring streets were evacuated and a command post for an emergency shelter was established.  With the combined efforts of these Troopers and Sergeants, members of the Emergency Services Unit were able to safely detonate the explosive materials at the scene without injury.

Troopers Gordon and Gawronski, Sgts. Kodzis and Campbell earned Outstanding Service Awards. Dispatcher Fisher earned a Commissioner’s Recognition Award and Troop C Troopers earned a Unit Citation Award.

Trooper Veronica Carpenter, Trooper First Class Keith Timme, Trooper First Class Ronald Richardson, Trooper First Class Robert Given   These four Troopers, all assigned to the Ellington Resident Trooper’s Office, diligently investigated burglaries from eight different towns during a 12-month period, from April 3, 2009 through April 8, 2010.

Their conscientious, persistent and collective efforts, at all levels of these investigations, led to the recovery of more than 100 stolen items, with a collective value of more than $41,000.  The Troopers solved 16 burglaries, including eight in Ellington, and culminated in 24 criminal arrest warrants being issued.

The four Troopers each earned an Award for Outstanding Service.

Sgt. Patrick Torneo, Det. Keith Graham, Det. Sean Krauss, Det. Marc Grandpre, New Haven Officer Robert Lawlor, New Haven Officer Michael Styles, Orange Officer Chris Chiarelli, Woodbridge Officer Gerald Kubik, Cheshire Officer Frederick Jortner, Groton City Officer Jad Bickford, Willimantic Officer Jonathan John, New London Officer Sarah Starkey  On July 30, 2010, the Statewide Narcotics Task Force East and South Central Field Offices conducted an investigation into a heroin trafficking organization. The Task Force is comprised of State Police Detectives and Officers from Groton City, Willimantic, New Haven, Orange, Woodbridge, and Cheshire Police Departments.
            This investigation was the direct result of information cultivated by New London Police Officer Sarah Starkey and obtained through a confidential informant.  Investigators discovered that a large shipment of heroin was being delivered to the Interstate 95 rest area in Fairfield.  With covert surveillance and other investigative techniques employed, the targeted individuals entered the area in two separate vehicles.

The individuals became suspicious and subsequently abandoned a vehicle later determined to contain the shipment of heroin.  Undercover detectives kept that vehicle under constant surveillance while the targeted individuals fled the area in the second vehicle.  The second vehicle was apprehended as the individuals attempted to return to New York where the contraband originated.
            The investigation led to the arrest of two individuals for numerous felonies, as well as the seizure of 4,000 bags of heroin with an approximate weight of 800 grams, two vehicles and $575 in cash.  This seizure prevented a tremendous amount of heroin from being sold in the state. 
            Members of this Task Force each earned an Award for Outstanding Service.

Sgt. Douglas Hall, Sgt. Patrick Torneo, Sgt. Michael Thomas, Det. Keith Graham, Det. Derek Halkett, Det. Mark Wiener, Bristol Officer Matthew Moskowitz, Woodbridge Officer Gerald Kubik, Cheshire Officer Frederick Jortner, Chief Warrant Officer Colleen Picard, MA Air Nat’l Guard, Staff Sgt. Adam Byrnes, MA Air Nat’l Guard    On August 9, 2010, the Statewide Narcotics Task Force was conducting marijuana eradication flights over eastern Connecticut.  These flights are supported by the Connecticut National Guard Counterdrug program and the Massachusetts Army National Guard RAID Unit. 

From the helicopter, the air crew was able to spot several marijuana plants on a property in Canterbury. The property consisted of a residential home, a large two-story barn and a greenhouse.

Task Force members responded to this location and initiated an investigation into the cultivation of marijuana.

It was learned through this investigation that 4 individuals conspired in erecting the greenhouse on the property and converting the residential home and barn into a sophisticated marijuana cultivation operation with each area or room functioning for various stages of the cultivation process.

Members of the task force arrested four individuals on several felony charges and seized 1,102 marijuana plants with a street value of $1.1 million, numerous items utilized in the cultivation process and $1,600 in cash.

Members of this Task Force each earned an Award for Outstanding Service

Trooper Lori Foster, Sgt. Troy Gelinas   On September 24 2010, at 3:42 a.m., Montville Dispatch received a 911 call regarding a woman in labor on Route 2A in Montville.  Trooper Foster and Sgt. Gelinas responded to the area and found a vehicle pulled to the side of the roadway, with a woman in active labor in the front passenger seat of the vehicle.  The birth of the baby was imminent. 

Trooper Foster and Sgt. Gelinas assisted with the delivery of a baby girl in the vehicle on the side of the road.  The baby was delivered just five minutes after the 911 call was received.  Trooper Foster tended to the newborn, while Sgt. Gelinas cleared the newborn’s airway.  The Troopers continued to care for both mother and newborn baby until the arrival of an ambulance. 

Trooper Foster and Sergeant Gelinas, both trained as Emergency Medical Technicians, utilized a high degree of alertness and superior judgment in the performance of the extremely difficult task of delivering a newborn baby in a vehicle on the side of an extremely busy highway.  Each earned an Award for Outstanding Service.

Troop C, Eastern District Major Crime Squad    On April 23, 2010, at 12:15 a.m., a serious assault took place during Spring weekend festivities at the University of Connecticut.  State Police personnel requested an ambulance for an unresponsive assault victim, as well as additional units for crowd control due to large groups of partygoers actively fighting.

Troopers protected the victim from further assault and from the large combative crowd.  Troopers also located witnesses at the scene who identified a suspect who was immediately detained by Troopers.

In addition, Troopers secured the crime scene and protected valuable evidence.  As more personnel arrived, they were assigned to tasks such as crowd control, scene and suspect security, and witness interviews. 

The Eastern District Major Crime Squad responded to the scene and assumed the assault investigation.  Detectives seized physical evidence and obtained detailed witness statements as well as a full confession from the suspect.  The victim, a UConn student, was transported to a local hospital where he ultimately succumbed to his injuries.  The suspect was subsequently arrested in connection with the assault of the victim and charged with manslaughter.

The response from Troop C and the Eastern District Major Crime Squad was instrumental to the successful outcome of this investigation and they earned the Unit Citation Award.

Troop E   On August 23, 2010, at 4 a.m., Sgt. Troy Gelinas of Troop E received a call from a Massachusetts State Police lieutenant requesting assistance in locating two wanted felons.  The lieutenant explained that his unit was attempting to locate a male suspect and a female suspect who had active felony warrants issued by a court in Massachusetts.  A vehicle associated with the suspects was believed to be on Route 2 in North Stonington. 

Sgt. Gelinas contacted Trooper First Class Jason McCarthy, who was working a construction project on Route 2.  Trooper McCarthy located the vehicle in the parking lot of a North Stonington hotel, where the night manager confirmed that the male suspect was renting a room.

Sgt. Gelinas, Sergeant Christopher High, Trooper Nathan Charron, Trooper Timothy Bettencourt, and Trooper McCarthy, along with his assigned K-9 Nigel, obtained a master key which was used to open the door to the room.  Both suspects were in the hotel room and taken into custody.

Troop E Troopers responding to this incident earned a Unit Citation Award.

Mr. Robert King   On August 5, 2010, Troop E dispatch received a 911 call regarding a motor vehicle accident on I-395 northbound, just south of exit 83.  Upon arrival, Trooper Jeffrey Dunshee observed a vehicle up on an embankment and a visibly upset female.  Trooper Dunshee also observed a male subsequently identified as Robert King. 

It was determined that Mr. King was operating a dump truck when he witnessed the accident and stopped to help.  Following the accident, Mr. King saw a male walking down the embankment and a handgun on the ground in the breakdown lane. 

Mr. King saw the man stop walking, turn around and pick up the gun.  Mr. King walked up to the man and ordered him to drop the gun.  The man threw the gun onto the right shoulder of the roadway and started to walk into traffic.  Mr. King subsequently pulled the man back away from the oncoming traffic.

Mr. King earned a Commissioner’s Recognition Award.