Connecticut State Police Patch STATE OF CONNECTICUT
Department of Public Safety
1111 Country Club Road
Middletown, Connecticut 06457
November 17, 2011

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 17 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 Reuben F. Bradford and State Police Colonel Danny R. Stebbins. 

Awards were presented in five 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 Trooper 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 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.

Ø  The Commissioner’s Recognition Award is presented by the agency commissioner to a person who has been instrumental in helping the State Police accomplish their job of public safety for all. This is generally presented to civilians (non-law enforcement).


Awards were presented to:

Trooper First Class Edward Benecchi, Trooper First Class Thomas Blake, Trooper First Class Jose Rosado,,Sgt. Eric Dency, Trooper First Class Nelson Abarzua, Trooper First Class Jack Vegliante, Prospect Officer Anthony Giordino, Prospect Officer Douglas Fairchild, Waterbury Police Officer Michael Varrone, Waterbury Police Officer Justin McCulloch, Waterbury Police Officer Steve Lanese, Dispatcher Valerie Hull, Mark Guastaferri (civilian)

On March 26, 2011, 10 a.m., Mr. Guastaferri, a customer at a Prospect bank, called Troop I to report that the bank was being robbed and that shots were fired inside the bank.  Mr. Guastaferri provide Troop I desk Trooper Vegliante a description of the suspects and their vehicle and their direction of travel.  Dispatcher Hull alerted surrounding towns and State Police Troops of the ongoing situation.

Prospect Officer Giordino located the suspect vehicle on a local road. The suspect driver drove into a housing development in Waterbury and jumped out of the moving vehicle, which then traveled into a wooded area and impacted a tree. The armed perpetrators fled by foot in opposite directions.

An intense search was started by officers of the Prospect Resident Troopers Office, Troopers from Troops I and A, and Waterbury Police. Trooper Blake observed a suspect running along a Waterbury road. He took the suspect into custody at gunpoint as Waterbury Police backup units arrived.

A short time later, Prospect Officer Fairchild tracked one of the suspects on foot while off-duty Trooper Abarzua saw the suspect running into a backyard. Trooper Rosado took that suspect into custody with the assistance of Trooper Abarzua.

Trooper Benecchi, along with K-9 Sarik, conducted a track from the bank robbers’ abandoned clothing – which contained a loaded .38 caliber handgun used in the crime – directly to the second suspect.  Both suspects were in police custody within 20 minutes of the robbery.

All sworn Troopers and Officers earned an Award for Meritorious Service. Dispatcher Hull and Mr. Guastaferri each earned a Commissioner’s Recognition Award.

Trooper Justin Lund   On July 7, 2011, Troop G in Bridgeport received information from Portland Police concerning a suicidal 23-year-old female. It was reported that the woman was in the area of Sherwood Island State Park in Westport.

Trooper Lund arrived at the park and located the woman’s vehicle, with her inside in a semi-conscious state. Trooper Lund gained entry into the vehicle and immediately summoned emergency first aid.

The victim was transported to a local hospital where she was treated for a severe drug overdose. She has since made a full recovery. Hospital emergency room physicians have credited Trooper Lund for his quick actions in locating the victim and summoning first aid.

Trooper Lund earned a Lifesaving Award.

Oxford Police Officer Dennis J. D’Archangelo, Oxford Officer Gary M. Soules, Sergeant Daniel Semosky  On March 28, 2011, at 6:30 p.m., the Oxford Resident Troopers Office was notified by Milford Police of an investigation involving a female in their city and her former boyfriend, a resident of Oxford.  The female provided an e-mail written by the former boyfriend in which he threatened suicide. The female confirmed that he owned both a shotgun and a handgun, and that he had attempted to commit suicide in the past. 

Oxford Resident Supervisor Sgt. Semosky, along with Oxford Officers D’Archangelo and Soules responded to the boyfriend’s Oxford residence.  After gaining entry into the home, the officers conducted a tactical search of the residence. They quietly ascended the stairs and quickly entered the distraught man’s bedroom, swiftly subduing and securing him, along with his loaded 12-gauge shotgun.  The distraught man confessed that he was about to shoot himself and only immediate State Police intervention prevented him from going through with his plans.

Officers D’Archangelo & Soules and Sgt. Semosky each earned a Lifesaving Award.

Oxford Police Officer Gary M. Soules, Oxford Officer Peter J. Hopson  On June 5, 2011, 10:18 p.m., Oxford Police Officers Soules and Hopson responded to a burglary in progress at a CL&P compound in Oxford.  Upon arrival, Officer Soules discovered a large opening cut in a fence with several large rolls of copper wire piled outside of the opening.   Officer Hopson secured the front side of the compound and both officers began a coordinated tactical search of the dark interior of the lot with their service weapons drawn.
           The officers observed two figures hiding in the shadows of a storage container located in a corner of the lot. Officer Soules approached the suspects and ordered them to lie on the ground.  Officer Hopson covered the suspects with his weapon while Officer Soules handcuffed them and took them into custody.  
            The two suspects had entered several storage units and removed various power tools from trucks parked inside the compound. The two men were found to be suspects in several other similar incidents in surrounding towns.  The immediate response of Officers Soules and Hopson resulted in the apprehension of two felons in the act of stealing $10,000 dollars worth of tools and materials.

Officers Soules and Hopson each earned an Award for Outstanding Service.

Trooper First Class Jose Rosado, Trooper Jonathon Naples, Trooper John McDonald, Trooper Corey Clabby, Trooper Robert Mangham, Trooper First Class Taras Kootz, Sgt. Marc Gelvin, Beacon Falls Officer Anthony Diaz, Beacon Falls Officer Leonard Rubbo, Dispatcher Donna Calderia  On April 13, 2011, at approximately 8:30 p.m., Troop I was contacted by the victim of a disturbance in Beacon Falls.  The victim stated that, after a verbal disagreement, a man emerged from his residence armed with a loaded 12-gauge shotgun.  The suspect intentionally and unlawfully fired two shotgun rounds in the direction of the victim.
            Troop I patrols and members of the Beacon Falls Resident Trooper’s Office immediately responded to the residence and established a perimeter. The victim and nearby residents were evacuated to a place of safety as the subject barricaded himself within the home.  Eventually, the man exited the residence in a highly intoxicated physical state and refused verbal commands from law enforcement officers.  He was quickly apprehended by members of the perimeter team without incident.  He was charged with numerous criminal charges, including felony criminal possession of a firearm.

All sworn Troopers and Officers earned awards for Outstanding Service; Dispatcher Calderia earned a Commissioner’s Recognition Award.

Sergeant Paolo D’Alessandro, Trooper First Class Joseph Russo  On September 16, 2011, Sgt.D’Alessandro was off duty and traveling northbound on Route 9 in Berlin.  While approaching Exit 24, he observed a vehicle along the median divider that had struck the metal guardrail. 

Sgt. D’Alessandro parked his cruiser to protect the scene and observed a lone, unresponsive male occupant sprawled across the front seat of the vehicle.  Sgt. D’Alessandro noted that the occupant was ashen and having difficulty breathing. With no signs of physical injury as a result of the collision, Sgt. D’Alessandro concluded the occupant was in cardiac arrest and requested an ambulance.

Upon the arrival of Trooper Russo, the Troopers removed the occupant, reassessed his condition and commenced CPR.  An officer from Berlin Police arrived with oxygen and an Automated External Defibrillator. Sgt. D’Alessandro provided respirations and Trooper Russo provided compressions. Throughout this process, and over the course of approximately 20 minutes, Sgt D’Alessandro continued with CPR while the occupant was delivered five separate shocks from the A.E.D. and was eventually transported a local hospital. 

Sgt. D’Alessandro and Trooper Russo each earned an Award for Lifesaving.

Statewide Narcotics Task Force- Northwest Office, Middlebury Police Dept., New Milford Police Dept., Newtown Police Dept., Waterbury Police Dept., Wolcott Police Dept., Drug Enforcement Administration, State Police Special Licensing and Firearms Unit, Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, Naugatuck Police Dept., Office of Adult Probation, Dept. of Children and Families   On March 28, 2011, the Northwest Office of the Statewide Narcotics Task Force, the Waterbury Police Department’s Vice and Intelligence Unit, members of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) and members of the Drug Enforcement Administration concluded a two-month investigation into a criminal organization operating in the Waterbury, Wolcott, and Meriden areas and engaged in sales of cocaine, pills, and firearms. 

This case culminated with critical assistance from the Naugatuck and Wolcott Police Departments; the State Police Special Licensing and Firearms Unit; the Office of Adult Probation; and the Department of Children and Families. During the investigation, undercover detectives met with the suspects and made controlled purchases of cocaine, oxycodone pills, and four handguns, two of which had obliterated serial numbers.  Additionally, suspects attempted to obtain a sawed-off shotgun to sell to a detective and to hire two of the undercover detectives to extort money from a person who owed drug money to the suspects. 

During the investigation, three search and seizure warrants were obtained and executed and eight arrest warrants were obtained and served against the involved suspects for narcotic possession and distribution and firearms offenses.  Two suspects faced additional charges after bringing their young children to meetings with undercover detectives to sell drugs and guns.

All involved in this case earned a Unit Citation Award.

Statewide Narcotics Task Force- Northwest Office, Middlebury Police Dept., New Milford Police Dept.,  Bristol Police Dept. In March 2011, members of the Statewide Narcotics Task Force Northwest Office began an investigation into cocaine and marijuana trafficking in the greater Waterbury area.  The investigation led detectives several towns away to Bristol and New Britain, where suspects related to the investigation were actively plying their drug trade, believed to be in possession of firearms, and reaping substantial financial profits as a result of their actions.

Once the Bristol and New Britain connection was established, task force members began working closely with members of the Bristol Police. All investigators utilized aggressive, time-sensitive tactics and developed a strategy to effectively dismantle this drug trafficking organization.  Detectives obtained two search warrants and executed them on April 5, 2011. 

The search warrants yielded the arrest of three suspects, 20 pounds of marijuana, more than a pound of cocaine, two semi-automatic handguns, and $86,000 in drug-related monies.

Members of SNTF and Bristol Police, through their effective, timely, coordinated approach successfully dismantled this drug trafficking organization, built a strong case for prosecution, removed firearms from the hands of persons engaged in this sort of felonious behavior, and worked with child welfare professionals to appropriately remove a young girl from this dangerous existence.

All involved in this case earned a Unit Citation Award.

            Western District Major Crime Squad, Southbury Resident Trooper’s Office, State Police Traffic Services Unit   On March 20, 2010, a Southbury resident was reported missing to the Southbury Resident Trooper’s Office.  Detectives from the Western District Major Crime Squad joined the investigation into the missing man.

After numerous interviews, detectives identified two suspects in the disappearance of the man.  Detectives developed information that the missing man was murdered and that both suspects had something to do with his death.  One suspect was interviewed on March 24, 2010; that evening, the suspect was found to have taken his life. 

The second suspect was interviewed multiple times, giving investigators several stories.  On March 26, 2010, the suspect implicated himself in burying the missing man after the other suspect had killed him. Detectives located the scene along the Pomperaug River where they found what they believed to be the missing man’s shallow grave.  Cadaver dogs from the State Police Canine Unit later confirmed this.  The scene was processed and the man’s body and other items of evidentiary value were located.

Seven days after the investigation began, the surviving suspect was arrested for the murder of the missing man.  On July 29, 2011, the suspect was sentenced to the maximum 34 years in prison.  In court, the judge said that he had the duty to protect society from the suspect, whom he described as a sociopath.

All involved in this case earned a Unit Citation Award.

Forensic Examiner Christopher Grice   On March 29, 2011, a 90-year-old woman in Bridgeport answered a knock at her apartment door and was accosted by a male suspect who dragged the victim to her bedroom and threatened to kill her.  The suspect bound the victim’s hands, feet and mouth and burglarized the apartment. The suspect then broke into an adjacent apartment and committed an additional burglary.

The victim was able to free herself from the duct tape restraints and call for help. Bridgeport police detectives processed the crime scene and recovered the duct tape. The duct tape evidence was sent to the state police Forensic Laboratory where Forensic Examiner Christopher Grice was tasked with examining it for physical evidence.  Mr. Grice developed a latent fingerprint on the tape and processed the print through the Automated Fingerprint Identification System. 

A list of more than 50 potential candidates was generated. Mr. Grice painstakingly reviewed each of the candidates for a match and on the 36th candidate, he made a positive match to a convicted offender. The suspect was apprehended.

The tenacity and patience of Forensic Examiner Grice identified a suspect in a violent crime against an elderly woman.  Mr. Grice earned a Commissioner’s Recognition Award.

George P. Magura On August 28, 2011, at 5:22 a.m., during Tropical Storm Irene, an electrical line to a Prospect residence was struck by a falling tree limb which resulted in a fire to the occupied dwelling.  The house was also electrically charged from the live down wires. 

Next-door neighbor George P. Magura was awoken by the outside noise and saw that the neighbor’s house was fully engulfed in flames.  He directed his wife to call 911 and ran to the burning home.  Through the back door, he ran into the burning structure and observed his elderly male neighbor standing inside.  He grabbed him and brought him outside.  The smoke was approximately 6 inches off the floor and it was pitch black inside with no visibility.  He was familiar with his neighbors and noticed that the elderly female resident of the home was missing.  He ran back into the house crawling on the floor because he could not breathe and his lungs were burning.  He shouted for the female neighbor but received no response.  His male neighbor tried to re-enter the home, but Mr. Magura held him back and returned him to safety outside.  The fire department arrived and Mr. Magura told them about the elderly female still inside the house.  Tragically, the female neighbor became trapped inside the residence and succumbed to the fire.  

Due to the heroic and brave actions of Mr. Magura under extreme conditions, the life of a neighbor was saved. Mr. Magura earned a Commissioner’s Recognition Award.