Archive | October, 2019

Hartford Guardian Begins Fall Fundraising


HARTFORD — Starting Nov. 1, The Hartford Guardian will launch its fall 2019 fundraising drive to raise $20,000 by the end of the year.

Since its founding in 2004, The Hartford Guardian has prioritized transparency and integrity in its reporting. The online publication exists to build communities by doing quality journalism to cover every neighborhood in the city of Hartford and we put accountability at the forefront.  

The staff and volunteers of The Hartford Guardian believe this is the type of journalism that cannot wait.

That’s why we’re excited to share an opportunity to DOUBLE YOUR DONATION this year. We have been selected to participate in NewsMatch, a national matching-gift campaign that drives donations to nonprofit newsrooms around the country.

Last year alone, NewsMatch helped raise more than $7.6 million for 154 news organizations in 42 states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico.   

Here’s how it works.   

STARTING NOW — THROUGH DECEMBER 31 — NEWSMATCH WILL MATCH YOUR NEW MONTHLY DONATION 12X OR DOUBLE YOUR ONE-TIME GIFT, ALL UP TO $1,000.

Visit the www.thehartfordguardian.com

WE CAN EARN UP TO $20,000 IN MATCHING DOLLARS, WHICH MEANS THE HARTFORD GUARDIAN CAN RAISE $40,000 IN TOTAL.

For a nonprofit like us, the staff say, this is a big deal and will help us deliver the kind of innovative journalism you’ve come to expect, every day.

Donations from readers like you enable The Hartford Guardian to deliver high-quality journalism that challenges conventional wisdom and investigate issues that impact our communities.

Donate Now

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Police ID Resident Hit By Car


HARTFORD — Police are still investigating a hit and run accident that left a 71-year-old grandmother dead after she was on her way to the grocery store.

The woman was killed when she was hit by a car fleeing the scene of a shooting last Thursday afternoon.

The incident occurred around 2 p.m. at Garden and Westland streets. One car was parked when another pulled up. The passengers in the cars began arguing and it led to gunfire being exchanged, WTNH 8 reported.

When one of the cars attempted to flee the scene, the driver backed up, hitting the woman, who was identified as Yvonne Smith. One of the cars then crashed into a building a few blocks from the shooting scene.

Smith, who was going to the store to get bread and milk when she was struck and killed, was considered a “grandmother of the neighborhood” who cared about her community. Her daughter, Bridget Smith, told WTNH that her mother was a “really good person, she could make you laugh.”

A 16-year-old suspect was remanded to the Juvenile Detention Center and charged with first-degree manslaughter, evading responsibility resulting in death, and second-degree larceny. Police said those charges may be upgraded.

Investigation into the crime is ongoing.


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Kids in the Hall’S Star Kevin McDonald Comes to Hartford


HARTFORD — Wanna learn about theater? Learn from the Kid’s in the Hall’s star, Kevin McDonald. Then watch his show. All shows take place at the Sea Tea Comedy Theater, 15 Asylum Street, Hartford, CTGet your show tickets here. The Kevin McDonald master class takes place at Sea Tea Improv Studios, 75 Pratt Street, Hartford, CTRegister for the workshop here.

Saturday, November 2nd at 7:00 PM

Kevin Cheaters in Love is Kevin McDonald’s rock opera about love, cheating, New York & the 90s. And it’s funny. And Kevin sings!

Oh, that’s a bad thing. But Kevin will be joined by several fellow performers who can sing, along with live musical accompaniment, and that’s a good thing.

Stand-Up, Sketch and Improv with Kevin McDonald

Sunday, November 3rd at 7:00 PM

Tickets are just $20 for this big comedy show featuring stand-up artist by Kevin McDonald. Seating is limited!

Kevin McDonald Workshop

Don’t miss this chance to learn from one of the best, right here in Hartford!

Saturday 11/2 Workshop

10:00 am to 5:30 pm with a one-hour break for lunch

Bring a script for a sketch: Each student for this workshop will come in Saturday morning with a script of one comedy sketch that they have written. (Important: your sketch should be one that works for stage only — please do not bring in a sketch that’s meant to be filmed.)

Bring copies for all roles + 2: Bring enough copies of your sketch for people to read the scripts out loud. For example – if the sketch has 4 members in the cast, you should bring 6 copies. Four scripts for each cast member, one for someone to read stage directions and one for Kevin. If you have a sketch with 5 parts in it, you should bring 7 copies. If there are only 2 actors in the sketch, you should bring 4 copies, etc.

Bring a laptop / notepad & pen: Students will edit and re-write their sketches.

Sunday 11/3 Workshop (2-Day Students Only)
10:00 am to 5:30 pm with a one-hour break for lunch

Learn Sketch Comedy Acting: On Sunday morning, Kevin will talk more about sketch comedy but this time, about acting and not writing.

Rehearse with Kevin as Director: The class will start rehearsing the scenes, one by one with Kevin directing. (When rehearsing, students can read the scripts from their phones — the goal will be to memorize by the show that night.)

Collaborate: Everyone who isn’t in the scene that is being rehearsed will be watching and providing feedback. Everyone helps re-write, rehearse and work on all the sketches. We are creating and producing a sketch show, together. Everyone will be in 1 to 3 sketches. At the end of the day, Kevin & students do sort of a dress rehearsal in preparation to perform the sketches in the show, that night.

Sunday 11/3 Performance! (2-Day Students Only)
7:00 pm
A big show featuring stand-up comedy by Kevin McDonald, sketch comedy by & featuring the 2-day students, and an improv show with Kevin McDonald!
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For more information visit www.seateaimprov.com or call 860-578-4832.

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State Charges Hartford Woman With Fraud


HARTFORD — A Hartford social worker was arrested today and charged with cheating Medicaid out of thousands of dollars by using other social workers’ names to bill for services the government health care program would not pay her to provide.

Kathleen Service, 63, of Farmington Avenue, Hartford, was arrested by Inspectors from the Medicaid Fraud Control Unit in the Office of the Chief State’s Attorney and charged with one count each of firs degree larceny for defrauding a public community, health insurance fraud and first degree identity theft, and two counts of third-degree identity theft.

According to the arrest warrant, Service is a master’s level social worker and principal of Unlimited Family Services, LLC, an independent counseling practice in Hartford.  In December 2017, the Department of Social Services, which administers the state’s medicaid program, notified all master’s level social workers, including Service, that they were no longer eligible to bill the medicaid program for counseling.

In July 2018, Department of Social Services notified the fraud unit that Service apparently had skirted the 2017 termination notice by continuing to bill the medicaid program using the credentials of other eligible enrolled providers who were unaware of such billing, the warrant states.

Subsequent investigation by the medicaid fraud unit Inspectors revealed that Service used the credentials of three other providers to collect more than $151,960 for some 1,722 claims for counseling she could not bill medicaid for in her own name. Medicaid is a federal and state taxpayer-funded program that provides health care to low and no-income individuals.

Service was released on a $100,000 surety bond and is scheduled to appear in Hartford Superior Court on Oct. 17, 2019.  

Service is facing up to 20 years in prison.


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A Fall Message: To Our Readers and Supporters


The crisp, autumnal breeze in 2004 did more than stir colorful leaves on our city’s streets. The gentle wind ushered in a revolutionary concept onto Hartford’s media-filled landscape: The Hartford Guardian.

Sixteen years ago, the Connecticut Alliance for Better Communities, a 501 c 3 nonprofit organization, gave birth to The Hartford Guardian to fulfill a mission: report and write relevant news and deliver pithy, in-depth analyses on issues that impact Hartford’s neighborhoods. Also, The Hartford Guardian set out to unify neighboring factions by sharing quality and in-depth news from each of the city’s 17 neighborhoods with one goal: Hartford will truly be one city, one people.

It was a lofty goal then. It’s a lofty goal now. But we believe this goal can be achieved if we approach it in the right way with the right people.

Today, I’m proud to say we are on our way to fulfilling our mission. We have found new friends, who believe in our mission and have pledged to support it. We have covered local, state and federal governments, as well as social issues that impact not just Hartford but the state and the nation. This approach gives us hope. That’s because we have proven to be a small news publication with big impact.

It wasn’t easy, though. At times, we almost faltered. News of The Hartford Guardian, a new paper in an already newspaper-filled town, was greeted with skepticism. But that was soon drowned out by an overwhelming show of appreciation. Subscriptions increased and readers flooded our inboxes with encouraging words.

Small Paper, Big Impact

My staff and I sincerely thank our readers, who have supported us over the years. I’m proud that you enjoy our print publication and our online news site.

The recipe for our existence is quite simple: your support from subscriptions, monetary donations, and voluntary service. So we ask our readers who support The Hartford Guardian to go to our website at www.thehartfordguardian.com and subscribe to our newsfeed, give a tax-deductible contribution, or volunteer your professional services.

In the meanwhile, keep enjoying or four-day a week postings online. And look for us in spring 2020 with a new face and a revived passion for our mission.

Take care.

Ann-Marie Adams, Ph.D., President & CEO

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Hartford Police to Investigate Rogue Cop


HARTFORD — Hartford police are investigating one of thier colleagues: Officer Jay Szepanksi.

As a result of this investigation, Szepanksi is no longer in his current role. He was assigned to the property room, pending the outcome of the investigation.

Szapanksi is accused of using social media to post profane language about Hartford residents.

Former Police Chief James Rovella speaks to journalists as Hartford CouncilmanThomas “TJ” Clarke looks on ; Photo by CTMirror

While authorities stress his alleged posts don’t represent the entire Hartford Police Department, Hartford residents are not surprised by this behavior. They want immediate action to what clearly is an affront to many hard-working individuals who live in the capital city.

William Francis Moffett Jr posted this on Facebook: “Terminate the officer immediately.”

Another Hartford dweller named Allen Freeman asked: “ Where are all the ‘Good cops” flooding the comments section standing up for residents and calling out these Bad cops publicly?”

National Unrest Sharpens CT’s Focus on Police Community Trust

Interim Chief of Hartford Police Jason Thody released a statement saying, “Public trust, faith, and police legitimacy are essential requirements to be an effective police officer. Making comments that tend to diminish officer-credibility, erode public truck (sic), and bring discredit to the Department or to the officer can lead to an inability to police in the City.”

Thody also added, “Officers should be mindful that, while the Department supports legitimate expressions of free speech, such expressions are not without restrictions.”

Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin also responded to those posts saying in part, “The vast, vast majority of our officers view the chance to serve our city as a privilege, and posts like this do a disservice to all the men and women of our department who work so hard to build and maintain relationships of trust, respect, and partnership.”

There has been much criticism of Hartford Police Department for its lack of diversity. Residents over the years have made several complaints about officers who abused thier powers. Internal investigations seem inadequate to address this malfesance evident in the city. And so residents were disappointed over what seems like entrenched racism, xenophobia and sexism.

NBC: Former Hartford Police Officer Arrested After Assaulting Two People

Since 2014, there has been abuse of power reported under former Police Chief James Rovella. Rovella resigned on February 15, 2018 amidst accusations of an alleged cover up of grand larceny charges and theft of services against political operatives, including several police officers, Rovella moonlighted with during President Barack Obama and Gov. Dannel Malloy’s administrations and re-election campaigns.

The Hartford Guardian: Blumenthal, Bronin, Meet With Hartford Officials to Discuss Ways to Quiet Tensions, Police Brutality.

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Secret Investigation After Adam Lanza Shooting in Newtown Prompts News Series in Hartford


HARTFORD — In December 2012, 20-year-old Adam Lanza shot 26 children and adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. The killings reverberated across the country—and most definitely here in Hartford.

Under the supervision of Lt. Paul Vance, the message one year later to journalists was clear. There was no definitive or singular reason for the Newtown massacre, according to reports by the Connecticut State Police. State police detectives investigating the Dec. 14, 2012 massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School and 36 Yogananda St. in Newtown talked to several practitioners as they pieced together Lanza’s history of mental health treatments.

In Greater Hartford, several locals, including undercover policemen, state police, secret service and the office of the chief state attorney, claimed they were concerned about whether the mental health facilities failed Lanza; and they contacted The Hartford Guardian in January 2014. After identifying themselves as authorized officials doing an investigation in secret, they also claimed they wanted to investigate medicaid fraud and hospitals.

Additionally, they wanted to observe the state of mental health facilities in Connecticut, namely in Hartford, Farmington, Middletown and New Haven. In each case a reporter was followed by undercover agents to decipher the make up of the staff, the quality of care and details that contributed to mental health disparities in the state. This wasalso undertaken by the Medicaid Fraud Control Unit (MFCU) in the Office of the Chief State’s Attorney.

The Hartford Guardian, an award-winning, hyper-local publication based in Hartford, was asked to participate while other journalists, gadflies, federal, state and local officials secretly watched with special microscopic devices. The Hartford Guardian was among the few journalism organizations that got to see the inside of these  facilities and can give a cogent report. There were multiple stories that came out of this five-year investigation and many firings and retirements. (Several firings or retirements in the state and federal government reportedly came out of this secret investigation: Aug. 4, 2014 with three simultaneous departures; Feb. 4, 2015 with Dan Pfeiffer, April 22, 2019 with Dan S. Cohen; Feb. 15, 2018 with Hartford Police Chief James Rovella; the March 20 announcement of David Rosado’s retirement; the August announcement of Kevin Kane’s retirement).

Adams and other reporters are eager to tell thier stories that came out of visits to these hospitals involved in this investigation: John Dempsey Hospital, Hartford Hospital, St. Francis Hospital, Yale University Hospital and Connecticut Valley Hospital.

See other related reports:

Hartford Courant: Citing Safety Concerns, Feds Move to End Medicare Funding at Connecticut Valley Hospital

CT Mirror: Prospect of Detox, psychiatric bed cuts worries hospital officials

NBC Connecticut, Len Besthoff

WFSB, Investigative Team

The Hartford Guardian would like to follow up on its 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015 coverage of this secret investigation that allegedly came out of President Barack Obama, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy and Mayor Pedro Segarra’s administrations.

So far, we are mulling over several concerns presented to us and would like our readers input: 

The methodology proposed? Use a seasoned journalist to go inside these hospitals to see how the staff treat her as a patient—not a young white man such as Lanza.

By using a journalist that has worked in the state for more than 30 years, these secret investigators theorized, it would be established that she was not hiding the fact that she was a trained journalist. Other measures were taken to ensure her safety from threats by health employees and lobbyists.

 Here are some of the findings in these hospitals that are worth tackling:

  1. Psychiatrists and psychotherapists in hospitals and outpatient care are overwhelmingly white females. In some cases, they are culturally incompetent and erroneous in documenting cases. In some cases, workers falsify records.
  2. Psychiatrists and social workers are sometimes forced to  give a diagnoses quickly because they must produce a diagnosis for billing.
  3. If you are a Christian, the mental health facilities can allegedly be used to seemingly persecute believers. This is one of the most astonishing findings in our research. This was an allegorical case, which involved targeting Christians and claiming he or she is akin to Icarus. According to Greek mythology, Icarus is the man who escaped imprisonment by flying too close to the sun.
  4. Mental health facilities can also be used by corrupt politicians to imprison and undermine a political opponent.
  5. Forced medications can be used to silence or kill someone over time—based on their deadly side effects, especially because of wrong dosages and frequency.

If you or anyone have experienced any of the above or have been forced into a mental health hospitals on a Physician Emergency Certificate, especially using black magic or Santeria, contact us. The PEC can sometimes be used like the draconian vagrancy laws popular in the 1700s. You can reach us at editor@thehartfordguardian.com to be a part of our investigative series about your experience in mental health facilities. To help sponsor this important series, donate today. See link here.

The Hartford Guardian would like to thank the International Center for Journalists for hosting the Community Health Reporting workshop for helping to fund the beginning of this investigation in June 2014. This project was inspired by an October 7, 2008 death at Sands Apartment in Hartford, CT.

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