BEMER REJECTS PLEA DEAL
DANBURY, Conn. (AP) – A local businessman charged in a sex trafficking ring has rejected a plea deal that would have allowed him to avoid prison time. Bruce Bemer was arrested last year and charged with patronizing a trafficked person in connection with what authorities called a long-running human trafficking ring based in Danbury. Authorities say some victims were young people with mental illnesses. Bemer rejected an offer of probation Wednesday and opted for trial by jury. If convicted, he could face up to 30 years in prison. Bemer’s attorney, Anthony Spinella, said the prosecution has issues with its witnesses, two of whom have died. Assistant State’s Attorney Sharmese Hodge declined to comment. Bemer owns the New London-Waterford Speedbowl and Bemer Petroleum Corporation in Glastonbury.
POLICE CAMERAS SOUGHT
The recent arrest of a New London police officer accused of punching a handcuffed suspect in the face has been a hot topic in the city. It came up last night during a community forum hosted by the New London police department. State Representative Chris Soto pressed police chief Peter Reichard, asking him to reassure local residents that the arrest of Officer Deana Nott is an isolated incident. Reichard says they take all complaints seriously and have a reporting system in place that works. Reichard says Officer Nott was suspended for her actions. He’s now awaiting the outcome of her court case. The chief also discussed the police department’s desire to install surveillance cameras in a high-crime area off Blackhaul Street near McDonald Park. Reichard also says he’s hoping to hire a detective, a street supervisor, and four to six patrol officers next fiscal year. Last night’s forum was held at the Public Library of New London.
PASSERO RUNNING AGAIN, DISPUTES DAY COLUMN
Mayor Mike Passero expressed optimism Wednesday that market forces are driving a major change in regards to the downtown business district. Passero responded to an editorial in “The Day” that blamed him for “the sad state of downtown.” Passero refuted the accusation and said the turnover of downtown businesses has been a fact of life for decades and has more to do with poor urban planning and a lack of economic diversity than it does with his administration. Passero, who said he plans to run again when his four year term expires in 2019, met with members of “The Day’s” editorial board, expressing optimism because developers are scooping up downtown properties.
OFFICIALS WORRIED ABOUT SNOW REMOVAL BUDGETS
Eastern Connecticut public works departments are taking a hard look at their snow removal budgets, and some officials are concerned at what they’re seeing. Norwich Public Works Director Ryan Thompson has already spent over half of their budget. Griswold Public Works Director Todd Babbitt said he’s got just about enough left to cover two more storms. They say overtime, with snow falling during off hours is what’s really cutting into the budgets.
NEW PLANS FOR WATERFORD BUILDINGS
A municipal renovation project in Waterford has evolved, after more than 10 years, into a fresh set of plans for a new $11.7 million complex. Located at 1000 Hartford Turnpike, it will involve demolition of an existing building and construction of a new 53,500-square-foot facility to house offices and the town garage. In late 2016, the project hit snags with a previous architect suffering financial challenges. Last year the town held off while awaiting word on availability of state aid.