New England in Brief

Friday October 12, 2012

Dept of Justice sues Vt. over overseas ballots

MONTPELIER (AP) -- The U.S. Justice Department has filed a lawsuit against the state of Vermont and Secretary of State Jim Condos to ensure that some Vermont military personnel and others serving overseas can get their absentee ballots in on time after some of the ballots were delayed.

The department said Thursday that it’s seeking an order requiring Vermont to extend the deadline to Nov. 16 to receive the ballots from affected voters.

The department said it filed the lawsuit after the state failed to send more than 20 percent of the ballots by the deadline.

Condos, a Democrat, said a recount in a primary race delayed the printing of the November ballots, but town clerks were sent electronic copies and the most veterans should have been able to receive them on time.

Ads pulled over illegal use of Vt. state seal

MONTPELIER (AP) -- A political action committee has taken down two online ads after learning that it is illegal to use the Vermont state seal in an advertisement.

The state elections director notified the Vermonters First PAC on Wednesday that violating the state law carries a penalty of up to a year in prison and a $1,000 fine. The ads in question promoted Republican candidates Vince Illuzzi and Wendy Wilton, who are running for state auditor and treasurer, and showed images of the Vermont state flag, which carries the seal.

Tayt Brooks of Vermonters First said he had not been aware of the law regarding use of the state seal.

Failed Vt. court software raises concerns

MONTPELIER (AP) -- Three years after the Vermont Judiciary started upgrading its computer system to a web-based case management system, it has little to show for the nearly $2 million that was spent on the project.

The judiciary had been working with a software company to implement a system that would have allowed everyone from state troopers to court clerks to access court information around the clock. But the judiciary pulled out of the contract last year, citing concerns that the software didn’t work.

Court Administrator Bob Greemore sid none of the system was salvageable, because the project had to be complete for it to be usable. Lawmakers say the experience highlights the need for greater coordination and a higher level of expertise when it comes to vetting technology contracts.

N.Y. man sentenced for defrauding Vt. stores

BURLINGTON (AP) -- A Brooklyn, N.Y., man has been sentenced to 25 months in prison on charges of defrauding at least eight businesses in downtown Burlington.

Prosecutors say 29-year-old Shamel Hugee used a prepaid debit card at Church Street marketplace stores for clothing and other items. When the card was rejected, Hugee told the merchants there was a safety feature on the card that required permission for sales over a certain amount. Prosecutor say he would pretend to call his bank and then give the sales clerk a code to override the rejection.

When the credit card company refused to honor the charges, the merchants were stuck with them.

Prosecutors say Hugee used the same scheme in New York, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and New Jersey. He was sentenced in Vermont on Tuesday.

Charity gambling revenues drop in N.H.

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) -- New Hampshire charities are seeing less revenue from gambling.

Charities took in $11.5 million in gaming revenue during the fiscal year that ended June 30, $1.5 million less than the previous year. Sales were up for Lucky 7 pull-tab tickets and games of chance such as poker, but down for bingo.

Paul Kelley, director of the state Racing and Charitable Gaming Commission, says the economy and competition are key factors, while Rockingham Park manager Ed Callahan points to prize limits in New Hampshire versus other states, restrictions on smoking and the emergence of online gaming.

Officials worry that revenues will drop even further when casinos open in Massachusetts.

Jackson Lab to get credit for UConn jobs

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) -- Changing its official stance for the third time in two days, the Malloy administration says a bio-science firm will get credit for creating jobs that will be funded by the University of Connecticut.

State Sen. Len Suzio, R-Meriden, had complained after learning that 10 UConn scientists who would work at the planned $1.1 billion Jackson Laboratory facility in Farmington would be credited as among 300 jobs the lab agreed to bring to the state in exchange for $290 million in government aid.

After initially confirming Suzio’s understanding of the deal, the governor’s office said Thursday night the UConn jobs would not help the company meet its job-creation obligation.

But on Friday, Catherine Smith, the commissioner of the state Department of Economic and Community Development, reversed course and acknowledged they would.


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