STATE OF CONNECTICUT
Department of Emergency Services &
Connecticut State Police
Public Information Office
1111 Country Club Road
Middletown, Connecticut 06457
||Colonel Danny R. Stebbins|
Division of State Police
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 2, 2012
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 2, 2012, at the Connecticut State Police Training Academy in Meriden.
Twice a year, the Connecticut State Police honors Troopers who demonstrate exceptional 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 six categories:
Ø The Medal for Bravery is awarded to a Trooper who demonstrates exceptional heroism in the performance of duty while exposed to life-threatening danger.
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:
Det. Janice Warkoski, Det. David Edwards, Bridgeport Sgt. Jason Amato, Stratford Det. John Therina, Supervisory Asst. State’s Atty Robert Satti, Jr., Connecticut State Police, Shelton Police, Dept. of Correction, CT Air National Guard, Office of the Chief State’s Attorney
In March of 2010, the State Police Statewide Urban Violence Cooperative Crime Control Task Force, in conjunction with Bridgeport Police, began an investigation with undercover detectives and multiple confidential informants targeting violent street gangs who base their operations on the East Side of Bridgeport.
Many violent and dangerous gang members had been identified and targeted by detectives during the course of this complex and lengthy investigation. Det. Warkoski was assigned to make multiple undercover hand-to-hand narcotics purchases from street gang members.
The investigation resulted in 117 arrests and 64 search warrants executed. More than 2,000 grams of heroin, 1,000 grams of cocaine, 1,500 grams of crack, 253 ecstasy pills, 2255 grams of marijuana were seized, as well as $29,390 and 60 firearms including AK-47 assault weapons, machine guns, pistols, revolvers, and other rifles. Many of these firearms were identified as stolen during residential and commercial burglaries.
Sixty three people were charged with multiple sales of marijuana, heroin, cocaine and crack, as well as the sales and possession of stolen firearms, conspiracy and corrupt organizations and racketeering. Suspects were also charged with homicides, assaults, robberies and car-jackings. The investigations produced multiple search warrants and arrests in the greater Bridgeport area. Many of those arrested provided valuable information, leading to additional arrests for shootings and homicides. Law enforcement personnel from the State Police Bureau of Criminal Investigations, along with detectives from Bridgeport and Stratford Police, conducted countless hours of surveillance and evidence processing and assisted in the preparation and executions of many search and arrest warrants.
During this investigation, on July 28, 2010, Det. Warkoski attempted to purchase crack cocaine from violent gang members. During the purchase, Det. Warkoski was assaulted, punched, choked and knocked down. She was threatened with being shot by the two primary assailants. She was forcibly robbed of undercover funds that were violently taken from her and was dragged from the undercover vehicle which was then car-jacked. Det. Warkoski was able to maintain her composure, defend herself and subsequently identify her assailants and provide information leading to their arrests and convictions.
Covering troopers and officers lost visual contact of Det. Warkoski as a truck double-parked alongside her, blocking their view. At the same time, audio surveillance transmissions became intermittent, preventing covering troopers and officers from hearing the assault and delaying rescue efforts for Det. Warkoski.
Det. Warkoski was awarded the Medal for Bravery; Dets. Edwards and Therina, Sgt. Amato and Attorney Satti each earned a Medal for Outstanding Service; all others involved in this extremely complex assignment earned the Unit Citation Award.
Trooper Donald Chasse and Trooper Nathaniel Day
On March 24, 2012, at midnight, Trooper Donald Chasse and Trooper Nathaniel Day were clearing a motor vehicle stop on Route 8 in Waterbury when they observed a vehicle commit a motor vehicle violation. Trooper Chasse caught up to the vehicle as it exited into the streets of Waterbury. Trooper Chasse initiated a motor vehicle stop, but the vehicle failed to yield and turned into a residential driveway.
The operator exited the vehicle and quickly walked away from the Troopers. Trooper Chasse exited his cruiser with his K-9, Zeus, and ordered the operator to stop several times. The operator disregarded the orders and Trooper Chasse deployed Zeus to apprehend the operator. Zeus temporarily detained the operator, until he broke free and jumped over a fence. Trooper Chasse and Trooper Day jumped over the fence and initiated a foot chase with the operator. While chasing him, Trooper Chasse deployed his Taser on the operator which allowed both Troopers to take him into custody.
The operator, who was a wanted person and a convicted felon, was found to be in possession of marijuana, crack cocaine, a ski mask and a loaded revolver. Troopers Chasse and Day each earned a Medal for Meritorious Service.
Southbury Police Officers Kevin Burns, Thomas Butkier and Robert Burke
On July 19, 2012, at approximately 2:30 a.m., Officers Burns, Butkier and Burke were dispatched to a call of a suicidal man who was armed with a knife and barricaded in a bathroom in a Southbury residence.
The Officers found the man lying on the bathroom floor, holding a knife to his throat. The man was having a psychotic episode and stated his ex-girlfriend was telling him inside his head to hurt the officers and himself. He had previously inflicted multiple cuts to his arms and chest prior to the arrival of the Officers.
While Officer Burns attempted to verbally disarm the man, Officers Butkier and Burke provided less lethal cover. When the man initiated a laceration to his hand and started a “countdown” implying that he was about to stab and kill the Officers and himself, Officer Butkier deployed his taser. Officers Burns and Burke then entered the small bathroom and took the man into custody for transportation to the hospital.
The Officers showed timely judgment and decisive response, preventing further injury and loss of life. They each earned the Medal for Meritorious Service.
Trooper First Class Jason Cassavechia
On June 25, 2012, at 9:01 p.m., Trooper Cassavechia was parked on the Interstate 84 Exit 5 entrance ramp in Danbury when he observed a vehicle with a motor vehicle violation pass him. Trooper Cassavechia followed the vehicle, checked the registration and discovered a possible misuse of plates.
He conducted a motor vehicle stop on Route 7 and when the vehicle stopped, one of the three occupants fled on foot into a wooded area. Trooper Cassavechia took the remaining two occupants into custody. Once backup arrived, Trooper Cassavechia and his K-9 partner, Luger, tracked the fleeing subject, but were unsuccessful in locating him.
A search of the vehicle revealed two loaded handguns under the front seats. Also located were a large pry bar and several sets of zip ties. The two subjects were arrested and charged with numerous felonies.
During processing, Trooper Cassavechia gained a confession from one of the arrestees, who admitted they planned to commit a home invasion. The suspect also admitted to planning two more home invasions in the coming weeks.
A high-risk search warrant was executed at the residence of the suspect who fled. This suspect was arrested and an additional handgun, along with a taser, was seized. This suspect made incriminating statements regarding the three planned home invasions. All three suspects were charged with conspiracy to commit home invasion, robbery and burglary, as well as weapons offenses.
The vigilance and alertness demonstrated by Trooper Cassavechia led to the apprehension of three armed and dangerous felons. He earned a Medal for Meritorious Service.
Trooper First Class Gregory Lebeau, Trooper First Class Perry Wilson, Trooper First Class Alexander Horjatschun, Sergeant John Jacobi
On April 12, 2012, Troopers Lebeau, Wilson and Horjatschun and Sgt. Jacobi were blocking the left travel lane on I-95 northbound in Bridgeport, where tow trucks were removing vehicles involved in a collision.
Trooper Wilson observed and called out via radio that a driver was entering I-95 northbound, traveling the wrong way on the exit 28 off ramp. Troopers Horjatschun and Lebeau quickly moved their assigned vehicles into the right-center and right lanes to stop the driver. The wrong-way driver swerved right and avoided Trooper Horjatschun, grazing the front bumper of his vehicle.
With no regard for his own personal safety, Trooper Lebeau positioned his vehicle in the left center lane, and was struck head on by the wrong way driver. The collision spun Trooper Lebeau’s cruiser around more than 180 degrees.
The suspect vehicle continued the wrong way on I-95 before striking a bridge barrier and bursting into flames. The operator was trapped underneath the steering wheel and dashboard and was unconscious. Sgt. Jacobi fought the engine fire utilizing two fire extinguishers, while Troopers Wilson and Horjatschun extricated the operator from the vehicle. Trooper Lebeau was transported to a local hospital with multiple injuries.
The quick response all involved was brave and undoubtedly saved lives. Trooper Lebeau earned a Medal for Meritorious Service; Troopers Horjatschun and Wilson, as well as Sgt. Jacobi, each earned a Medal for Lifesaving.
Detective Peter Pinelli, Western District Major Crime Squad, Emergency Services Unit, Troop L, National Insurance Crime Bureau, FBI
On April 16, 2007, the Western District Major Crime Squad investigated a home invasion at an estate in Kent. Detectives learned that three individuals, wearing masks and brandishing knives and firearms, entered the home just before midnight on April 15, 2007. They bound and blindfolded two adult victims and injected each with a substance they claimed was a deadly virus. The intruders ordered the victims to pay $8.5 million or they would be left to die from the injections. The victims were unable to meet the demands of the intruders, so the intruders gave each victim a sleeping aid and fled in the homeowner’s vehicle.
Det. Pinelli was assigned this case in November 2009. After examining the investigative foundation established by detectives and the crime scene unit, Det. Pinelli was responsible for the identification and development of the indicted suspects. His commitment to meticulous police work enabled him to link together crucial pieces of existing information that led to the identification of the suspects.
The intensive five-year investigation into this incident combined the resources of the State Police; the FBI in Connecticut, New York and Chicago; the New York City Police Department; ICE Homeland Security Investigations; and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Districts of Connecticut, Northern Illinois and Eastern New York. The resolution of this case resulted from a combination of testimonial evidence and forensic evidence, as well as the cooperation of the multiple agencies involved.
The former butler of the estate was indicted and convicted of attempted extortion, conspiracy to commit extortion and possession of a stolen vehicle. On August 17, 2012, he was sentenced to 20 years for the crime. A second indicted accomplice fled the country and remains at large.
Det. Pinelli earned a Medal for Meritorious Service; all others earned a Unit Citation.
Trooper Donald Chasse
On March 22, 2012, at 3 p.m., a 47-year-old female patient from a New Canaan hospital went missing. The patient had a history of attempted suicide and it was reported that she wished to end her life.
After an immediate search by local authorities, the State Police Canine Unit was called to assist. The area around the hospital is residential and heavily wooded.
Trooper Chasse and his K-9 Zeus searched a large area south of the facility. Within 20 minutes, Trooper Chasse and Zeus located the victim, more than a half mile away from the facility. The victim was found semi-conscious, with wounds to both wrists, in a wooded area. She was immediately transported to the hospital where she was treated for her wounds and recovered from her injuries.
Trooper Chasse earned a Medal for Lifesaving.
Trooper First Class Michael Belton and Trooper First Class Carlos Vinhais
On June 7, 2012, at 11:15 a.m., Troopers Belton and Vinhais were providing a police escort for the 2012 Connecticut Law Enforcement Torch Run, a yearly charity for the Special Olympics. Participants were traveling a Waterbury street when the rear bed of the lead pickup truck, occupied by two volunteers, erupted in flames. The two volunteers were refilling one of the Special Olympic torches when it ignited lighter fluid throughout the rear bed of the pickup truck.
Trooper Belton immediately ran for his fire extinguisher, and with the help of Trooper Vinhais, extinguished the flames. The Troopers then pulled the volunteers from the scorched vehicle to safety. Both volunteers were transported to a local hospital, where they were treated for second degree burns.
Troopers Belton and Vinhais each earned a Medal for Lifesaving.
Trooper Anthony Sciarretto
On June 12, 2012, at 10:30 p.m., Trooper Sciarretto located a motor vehicle accident on Route 69 in Waterbury. The vehicle was secluded in a wooded area off the roadway, with the operator unconscious behind the wheel. The vehicle was still in gear and teetering on undergrowth and an 80-foot ledge.
Quickly, Trooper Sciarretto secured the vehicle, disentangled and carried the now semi-conscious operator to safety. The operator was transported to a local hospital, where it was later determined that he suffered a diabetic emergency.
The quick response of Trooper Sciarretto earned him a Medal for Lifesaving.
Trooper Bruce Lachance and Trooper First Class David Pandiscia
On July 19, 2012, at 3:18 p.m., Farmington Police contacted State Police at Troop L regarding a man whose suicide note was found in Farmington, but who might be located at a Burlington residence. Information suggested the man intended to commit suicide by running a vehicle engine inside a garage.
Troopers Pandiscia and Lachance responded to the Burlington address, proceeded to the garage and heard the sound of an engine running. Trooper Lachance was able to forcefully open the closed garage door. The Troopers found a man seated on the floor near the exhaust pipe of a vehicle and a running propane gas grill with smoldering fire logs. The man was suffering from effects of carbon monoxide poisoning and was semiconscious. The Troopers rendered aid and ventilated the scene. The man had removed the battery from his wireless phone to prevent his location from being discovered. He was brought to a hospital for treatment and made a full recovery.
Troopers Lachance and Pandiscia entered a hazardous environment and worked quickly and efficiently to save a life. They each earned a Medal for Lifesaving.
Trooper Matthew Hahn and Trooper Kenneth Ventresca
On April 8, 2012, Troopers Hahn and Ventresca responded to a multi-vehicle accident which was blocking lanes on Interstate 95 northbound in West Haven.
The Troopers found a two-vehicle collision involving a trailer hauling a race car with racing fuel and blocking the roadway. The entire engine compartment of one vehicle was engulfed in flames. One vehicle operator was frantically yelling about the highly-flammable race fuel which was all over the roadway from a 50-gallon drum in his vehicle.
Troopers Ventresca and Hahn found an injured, unconscious male trapped in the burning vehicle. Without regard for their personal safety, the Troopers extricated the male from the vehicle and carried him to a safe location.
The quick thinking and immediate reaction of the Troopers in a volatile situation saved the life of the vehicle operator. Their actions earned each of them a Medal for Lifesaving.
Trooper David Aresco and Trooper Mary Muzzulin
In February 2012, Trooper Muzzulin of the Computer Crime Unit received a report from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children that an individual with an internet address in Newtown was e-mailing files of suspected child pornography.
Trooper Muzzulin located and preserved the suspected child pornography files and developed sufficient probable cause to obtain a court order to locate the internet provider address. Trooper Muzzulin worked with Trooper Aresco to establish probable cause to conduct a search warrant as expeditiously as possible, as it was thought that the suspect might be victimizing family members.
In April 2012, Trooper Aresco and members of the Computer Crime Unit executed a search warrant and found physical evidence that the suspect was sexually abusing an eight-year-old. Using communication skills and tenacity, Trooper Aresco obtained a confession from the suspect, who was arrested for distribution of child pornography and sexual assault.
The diligence and persistent investigation by Troopers Aresco and Muzzulin stopped a suspect from causing further abuse. They each earned a Medal for Outstanding Service.
Trooper First Class Gregory Naylor and Trooper First Class Stephen Luba
On May 25, 2012, at 9:07 p.m., Trooper Luba responded to a residential burglary with forcible entry at a Norfolk residence. He located and seized a Mitsubishi motor vehicle key within the residence. Two days later, Norfolk Resident State Trooper Naylor conducted a canvass of the surrounding area and learned that two men knocked on the resident’s front door, requesting the use of a phone because they had allegedly run out of gas. Trooper Naylor utilized the caller identification on the victim’s telephone and obtained two numbers that the men had contacted. One of the numbers was assigned to a nearby Norfolk residence.
Trooper Naylor proceeded to that residence and located a Mitsubishi in the driveway. He identified three people residing at the home, two of whom possessed lengthy criminal histories and were convicted felons.
Trooper Luba was off-duty, heard Trooper Naylor’s radio transmissions and immediately responded to the scene. The car key seized by Trooper Luba at the victim’s residence matched the ignition switch of the parked Mitsubishi. A search of the suspect’s residence resulted in the recovery of jewelry which was positively identified as stolen from the victim’s residence. During their search of the residence, the Troopers also uncovered a marijuana cultivation operation.
All three suspects were arrested on numerous felony charges, including burglary, conspiracy and drug factory offenses. Troopers Naylor and Luba each earned a Medal for Outstanding Service.
Troop A Southbury
On June 6, 2012, at 7:36 p.m., Troop A received a 911 call in which a female was heard pleading with someone to let her out of a car. Acting quickly and with minimal information, desk personnel – Trooper Frechette, Trooper Moon and Dispatcher Dielemans –identified the phone’s owner. They tracked the phone’s location and learned from Watertown Police that the female caller had been in a domestic violence incident and was being held against her will by her husband, who had just stolen a handgun.
With the information broadcast to Troop A patrols, Trooper Colburn located the suspect vehicle travelling eastbound on Interstate 84 at exit 4. Trooper Colburn was joined by Trooper Cassavechia and K-9 Luger to initiate a felony stop. The suspect refused to stop, leading the two Troopers on a 16-minute, 12-mile, high-speed pursuit. The pursuit ended after Sgt. Cario deployed stop sticks in the road, successfully deflating the tires of the suspect vehicle.
As Trooper Cassavechia and K-9 Luger attempted to extract the suspect from the disabled vehicle, Trooper King and Trooper Becker quickly engaged the suspect and took him into custody. Additional investigative efforts resulted in locating the female, unharmed, and recovering the stolen handgun.
The concerted team approach by these Troopers ultimately resulted in the apprehension of a dangerous felon, keeping the victim and the general public safe. All involved in this case earned a Unit Citation Award.