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Hartford Courant from Hartford, Connecticut • Page 92

Hartford Couranti
Hartford, Connecticut
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EDITORIALS 5th ED, MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 3, 1984 THE HARTFORD COURANT B1 WEST HARTFORD FARMINGTON VALLEY EDITION Waterbury Phones Back on Line After 36 Hours on Hold day or two" to avoid overloading the machinery until it is known for certain the equipment can handle large numbers of calls, he said. "We still have some work to do in building the capacity of that (new computer) switch," Gomez said. The company also expects to install new "circuit packs" and other equipment ordered from Massachusetts needed to bring "the electronic switch up to full capacity," he added. Dampness is enough to disable printed computer circuits and Saturday's incident left more than just dampness, Gomez said. "There was a large cascade of water that went down onto the very sensitive equipment," he said.

SNET said Saturday the plug that failed cost less than $1. Gomez said no estimate of the cleanup's cost had been made, but he predicted it would be at least in the tens of thousands of dollars, including overtime wages for three dozen workers on the scene and engineers and other personnel at SNET's New Haven headquarters. Waterbury police said their 911 emergency service lines for fire and police calls were lost when the flooding occurred, but that three trunk lines for emergency calls using the same number were installed almost immediately. Waterbury police also monitored Channel 9 on the citizens band radio, Sgt Pat Musco said. State troopers in Southbury also had their calls routed through another number.

"We've been covered pretty good throughout the whole situation," Musco said. "The only thing we're missing is the nuisance, low-priority calls." Saturday, Mayor Edward D. Ber-gin ordered police visibility irr creased, although he did not expect any danger to the public. Gomez said that five exebangesirj Waterbury 573, 574, 575, 753 and 755 had been affected. By STEVE BURKHOLDER Courant Staff Writer Fans and portable hair dryers rescued mighty computers this weekend as telephone employees worked around the clock to dry flooded telephone equipment and restore service to about 40,000 Waterbury customers.

Their efforts paid off when customers in five affected telephone exchanges could pick up their receivers and get a dial tone again about 4 p.m. Sunday, said Michael Gomez, a spokesman for Southern New England Telephone Co. They had lost service at about 4 a.m. Saturday when a pipe plug in the air-conditioning system at the SNET's Waterbury office failed, sending thousands of gallons of water cascading onto the equipment, Gomez said. Gomez compared the process of finding which electronic components in the system had withstood the washout to "replacing a faulty light bulb on a string of Christmas lights." Much of the sensitive equipment was "fried" when its live circuits were doused, Gomez said, but all of it had to be removed and dried to help distinguish the bad from the good.

SNET collected all the fans and hair dryers it could during the weekend to dry the equipment, he said. Late Saturday night, several new refrigerator-sized call storers the main computers of the switching equipment were trucked to Waterbury from New Jersey. The new equipment, manufactured by the Western Electric division of American Telephone Telegraph was installed Sunday afternoon and tested later in the day, the SNET spokesman said. Gomez added a minor warning to his good news, however. "We're asking for customers to be judicious in their calling for the next David A.

Smith Special to The Courant the state Department of Environmental Protection and the Sugar-brook Field Trial Club. Other contests are scheduled through November. PUPPY LOVE Calvin Nelson of Willimantic romps with his English pointer puppies Sunday near the site of a field trial competition for hunting dogs in Mansfield. Nelson was a jndge for several events. Trainers entered 40 dogs in the competition, sponsored by Informant in Failed Sting Against Walsh Arrested Authorities began the undercover investigation after Shelton and Milford police found evidence that late-model stolen cars were being driven with phony registration plates.

Search Continues for Boy Missing From Greenwich By THEODORE A. DRISCOLL Courant Staff Writer BRIDGEPORT Thomas E. Marra a former FBI informant used in an aborted 1981 sting operation aimed at Bridgeport Police Superintendent Joseph A. Walsh, was arrested Sunday night on 64 charges and accused of heading a major car-theft ring operating in Fairfield and New Haven counties. Police said they had been working undercover to break the Bridgeport-based ring for more than 15 months and that more arrests are expected.

Marra, 30, of 381 Clark Bridgeport, was charged with 20 counts of first-degree larceny, 22 counts of conspiracy to commit first-degree larceny, 10 counts of aiding and abetting first-degree larceny, one count of criminal attempt to commit first-degree larceny and three counts of tampering with a witness. The charges also include four counts of first-degree hindering prosecution, two counts of possessing fraudulent official documents, one count of second-degree larceny and one count of conspiracy to commit second-degree larceny. Marra, who was arrested without incident at his home, was being held in lieu of $100,000 bond at the state police barracks at Westport Sunday night, state police spokesman Adam Berluti said. Police said Marra will appear in court Tuesday if he does not post bond before then. Authorities said they suspect the ring had ties to organized crime.

Berluti said authorities began the undercover investigation after Shelton and Milford police found evidence that late-model stolen cars were being driven with phony registration plates. Some of the plates were among about 300 stolen from the state Department of Motor Vehicles office at Bridgeport between November 1982 and April 1983. About 200 of the stolen plates were later recovered by state police divers from the Pequonnock River in Bridgeport, Berluti said. Berluti said police had recovered 18 stolen vehicles in the course of their investigation and expect to recover more. The autos ranged from Corvettes and $18,000 Cadillacs to Chevrolet Cavaliers, Berluti said.

The investigators also recovered mobile homes, trucks and a stolen racing boat valued at $50,000, he said. Berluti said many of the stolen cars had been purchased by buyers who were aware they had been stolen, and that some of the cars bad been stolen to create fraudulent insurance claims. Some of the stolen vehicles were traced to a Kansas City, man police described as a professional auto thief. Berluti said the FBI in Kansas City had arrested the man, identified as Jay Owmby. Berluti said several state's attorney's offices, the chief's state's attorney's office and several Fairfield and New Haven county police departments, including Bridgeport's, had taken part in the undercover operation.

Berluti declined to say how many additional arrests were expected. Marra's involvement in the Walsh sting operation followed his 1980 conviction on federal car-theft charges. Authorities said Marra went to the FBI in Bridgeport and offered his services as an informant, in an attempt to reduce his two-year sentence on those charges. Federal officials gave Marra $5,000 and told him to offer it to Walsh as the down payment on a $30,000 bribe if Walsh would return a city towing contract he had taken from a company owned by Marra's uncle. But Walsh, who had been under investigation for months, suspected federal agents were behind the bribe attempt.

On Aug. 18, 1981, while sitting in Walsh's car, Marra banded him the $5,000 and Walsh immediately arrested Marra for attempted bribery. The unsuccessful sting operation made national headlines. The Fairfield County state's attorney's office tried to prosecute the attempted bribery charge, but U.S. District Judge T.

F. Gilroy Daly ordered the charges dismissed. By STEVE BURKHOLDER Courant Staff Writer Matthew Margolies was last seen at about 5 p.m. Friday fishing. It was something the brown-haired 13-year-old from Greenwich did with his late grandfather his "best friend in the world," his mother said and something that may provide a clue to his whereabouts, police said.

Searches by police and firefighters have so far yielded no leads in determining what happened to the child, who was despondent over the Aug. 22 death of his grandfather and the vacation departure of a friend last week, bis mother, Maryann Margolies, said. But Michael Panza, a youth officer with the Greenwich Police De-See 13-year-old, Page B2 MATTHEW MARGOLIES Bridgeport Driver Hit by Bullet on 1-95; 2nd Attack in Month McKinney, R-4th District. Young was shot in the head while driving on 1-95 through Stamford. Adam Berluti, a state police spokesman, said there was no indication Sunday that the two shootings were related, but he said police were not discounting the possibility.

The Bridgeport man, whom police would identify only as "a 44-year-old white male," suffered a bruise and did not require medical treatment. The bullet entered through the trunk of the car, a green 1977 Volkswagen Rabbit, passed through its rear and front seats and struck the victim in the back of the leg but did not penetrate the skin, Berluti said. Police would not disclose the victim's name, saying the information could be used by an assailant to locate him. The shooting occurred at 3 a.m. between Exits 23 and 24 in the highway's eastbound lanes.

By MICHELE JACKLIN Courant Staff Writer A 44-year-old Bridgeport man was struck in the leg by a bullet while driving on 1-95 in Fairfield Sunday morning, state police said. The shooting was the second on the Connecticut Turnpike in the past month. The first, on Aug. 5, resulted in the death of Nathaniel Young a staff aide to U.S. Rep.

Stewart B. the state police barracks in West-port. The shooting occurred about 20 miles north of the spot where Young was killed. The 25-year-old Stamford resident was found slumped in the driver's seat of his car after the vehicle crashed into the barrier of the westbound Exit 9 ramp. He died a day later.

Police speculated that Young had been shot by another motorist. The Police recovered the bullet and will analyze it at the state police forensic laboratory in Meriden, where it will be compared with the bullet taken from Young, Berluti said. The victim told police there were other vehicles on the road at the time of the shooting. Police are asking anyone who may have seen a gun flash or anything else unusual to call Brass Industry Fighting for Life bullet that killed Young passed through the rear window of his car and struck him in the left side of his head. A week after the slaying, police stepped up their search for the killer, and questioned more than 700 motorists at an 1-95 roadblock near the Stamford-Darien line.

Although police said the questioning provided "some valuable information," no arrests have been made Candidates Say Trust Key Issue By TOM BARNES Courant Staff Writer The four Hartford Democrats running for probate judge agree about the central issue of the campaign that something must be done to restore public confidence in the Probate Court. Former Hartford Mayor George A. Athanson, Judith M. Keppelman, Robert K. Killian Jr.

and Armand A. Korzenik say faith in the court was shaken in recent years by the conduct of former Probate Judge James H. Kinsella, who was censured by the Council on Probate Judicial Conduct for his handling of a $38 million estate. The four candidates, all of whom are lawyers, say it is paramount for the new judge to demonstrate that See Probate, Page B2 at the University of Bridgeport and a longtime observer of the brass and copper industries. Malcolm Mogul, president and owner of Waterbury Rolling Mills, agrees.

"The party, in my opinion, is going to be over soon. Whether we are cleaning the dishes from the main course now or just waiting for dessert remains to be seen." State business ombudsman Graham L. Waldron is less pessimistic, though. At worst, he said, the industry could dwindle to a handful of small, specialty brass shops. At best, industry profits could increase, ensuring the mills' survival.

Since the industry was imported from England nearly 200 years ago, brass has been one of the state's most important industries. Scovill Corp. and American Brass Co. once two of the state's "Big Three" brass companies are the fourth and fifth oldest companies in the state. During World War II, brass mills and related industries from Torring-ton to Ansonia employed more than 50,000 people, said Jeremy Brecher, a Cornwall historian and co-author of "Brass Valley," a book on the state's brass industry.

In their heyday, Connecticut brass mills accounted for the lion's share of all brass sheet, tube and wire produced in the nation. They also provided the bulk of the Naugatuck Valley's manufacturing jobs. "There was a very good chance that somebody in any family worked in a brass company. The brass companies and the watch companies were the only games in town." said Leonard A. Samela, a brass company toolmaker in Waterbury since 1951.

Today the antiquated mills, some built in the 19th century, house only a skeleton of the once-robust industry. Employment has dropped to between 4,000 and 5,000 employees, many of whom work in fear of pink slips and plant closings. "I've watched the brass indptry for 20 years, and I've watched it decline. There is so little to be positive about," Stokes said. "Deaths do take place in industry, and the brass industry now looks a See Brass, Page B2 By JEFF KOTKIN and S.

AVERY BROWN Courant Staff Writers Connecticut's brass industry, once the largest in the world and the economic bedrock of the Naugatuck River Valley, is battling to survive what state officials say is its most critical period in recent years. Not since the mid-1970s, when two of Waterbury's three mammoth brass mills closed and the third was sold, has the industry been so handicapped by its outdated plants and equipment, rising imports and steadily diminishing markets. Since January, one of the state's larger brass plants has closed, three others were offered for sale by their conglomerate owners and the state's largest brass company went through a divisive strike that resulted in one-year wage freezes for most employees. "Yes, it's a crucial year for the brass industry. The survival of the industry in Connecticut is at stake, but there is almost nothing the industry can do to help itself," said Charles Stokes, economics professor Michael Lennahan Special to The Courant "They really don't know me," George A.

Athanson said of his critics. The former Hartford mayor, 56, is running against three other Democrats for the Hartford probate judge nomination..

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