Around New Haven

Former NHPD officer Kasperzyk settles case from 2004

The city of New Haven and Justen Kasperzyk, a former New Haven Police Department detective, reached a settlement with Jorge Pizarro over Pizarro’s claims that his constitutional rights were violated. The city will pay Pizarro $100,000, and Kasperzyk — who is currently in prison for stealing money from crime scenes — will pay Pizarro $25,000 as a result of a 2004 incident where Kasperzyk, who said he was looking for a reckless driver, broke down the door to Pizarro’s house, entered the house and arrested him. Diane Polan, Pizarro’s attorney, said in a phone interview that her client was not the person the police were looking for and even if he was, the Fourth Amendment prohibits police from kicking down doors in a motor vehicle case. City Corporation Counsel Victor Bolden said the city settled the case for financial reasons. Another lawsuit is still pending against Kasperzyk: Norval Falconer filed a suit two years ago against the city, three imprisoned former officers and former NHPD chief and current Director of Public Security at Yale’s West Campus Francisco Ortiz in November seeking $10 million in damages resulting from his false arrest, the month he spent in prison and the subsequent loss of his apartment and job. The city is currently refusing to provide lawyers to represent the imprisoned detectives, a move Polan said might come back to bite them. —Harrison Korn

Local soccer league spars with city over its turf

Members of the New Haven Soccer League protested outside the Department of Parks, Recreation and Trees on Wednesday morning to demand that the city restore their access to the Ella Grasso Boulevard field. The league has played on the field for over 20 years, but concerns regarding overcrowding, illegal vending, public drinking and parking on the grass have prompted the city to withdraw the league’s rights to the field. The Department of Parks, Recreation and Trees has offered the league access to three fields in Fair Haven and Westville. Rights to use the Ella Grasso field have passed to an Ecuadorian soccer league. —Carmen Lu

Stimulus effects already felt in Conn.

The South Central Regional Council of Governments amended the State Transportation Improvement Program this week to speed up the bidding process on infrastructure projects. The move seeks to take advantage of the American Recover and Reinvestment Act signed by President Barack Obama last week. Additionally, the SCRCG allocated $10 million for New Haven Rail Line improvements and Union Station maintenance, as well as $65.2 million for the New Haven Rail Maintenance Yard. Bidding on the projects has been reduced to 30 days from 90 days in order to be considered “shovel-ready” under the bill. —Zeke Miller

Hartford Courant lays off 100

The Hartford Courant, the nation’s oldest continuously published daily newspaper, announced Wednesday that it is laying off 100 of its staffers, including 30 reporters and editors. The Courant’s owner, the Tribune Co., has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2008 and is undergoing restructuring. Released from the Courant were its Washington, D.C., Bureau Chief Jesse Hamilton, as well as Mark Pazniokas, one of the paper’s two state capitol reporters. —Zeke Miller

Journal Register CEO leaves, with bonus

James W. Hall, former CEO of the Journal Register Co., the New Haven Register’s Pennsylvanian parent company, profited from a secret departure bonus, as revealed by bankruptcy papers filed Saturday. The terms of the payout were settled Jan. 20, a month prior to the company’s bankruptcy declaration. The news comes after it was revealed the company seeks to pay senior executives $1.7 million in “shutdown bonuses” in exchange for continuing to retrench workers and close newspapers. The Journal Register Co., whose debts are estimated to be as high as $1 billion, is currently petitioning for protection from creditors under Chapter 11 of the bankruptcy code. —Carmen Lu

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