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Monday, July 20, 2009

Former Westport Businessman Sentenced in Fraud Scheme

The owner of a former Westport investment firm was sentenced to 20 months in prison today in federal court in New Haven after pleading guilty to interstate transportation of money obtained from fraud.

U.S. District Judge Mark R. Kravitz sentenced Anthony Iati, 48, of York, Pa., to 20 months of imprisonment, followed by three years of supervised release, for defrauding investors in his company of more than $500,000. 

He had pleaded guilty to the charge in February. (See WestportNow Feb. 26, 2009)

Iati was the owner of Great River Capital, LLC, formerly of 191 Post Road West in Westport. Court documents showed investors lost as much as $700,000 in connection with the company which sold jewelry to department stores. 

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Posted 09:51 PM
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Comings and Goings: BodyQuest to Open on Post Road East Image
BodyQuest is scheduled to open its studio for “physical fitness inspired by dance” by mid-August at 580 Post Road East at the location formerly occupied for half a century by Beacon Electronics. Owner of Bodyquest is Laurie Glatzer, a former professional dancer with the National Ballet of Canada and a veteran instructor of the Lotte Berk exercise method. She opened BodyQuest in Westport in August 2005, sharing a studio with the Westport Academy of Dance at 345 Post Road West. “BodyQuest is not a dance class studio”, she said. “We’re a studio for physical fitness that is inspired by dance. The audience we most appeal to ranges everywhere from runners to moms and ages that range from 20 to 80.” (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for

Posted 09:45 PM
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Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Comings and Goings: LCR Moving Up Post Road East Image
The L.C.R. design and decoration retail store at 275 Post East in Playhouse Square is moving to a new location at 615 Post Road East in the space that was vacated by Gary’s Frame Gallery (WestportNow, May 19, 2009) in the shopping center formerly anchored by Shaw’s supermarket According to Dana Robbin, co-owner, L.C.R. occupied its current location for five years after 12 years at 178 Main St. currently occupied by Papyrus. “We selected the new location because of the increased visibility, high traffic and the rent and we think that Fresh Market will be an attraction” she said. “We’re doing a lot of interior renovations with major construction and hope to move by the end of July.” (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for

Posted 08:37 PM
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Saturday, July 11, 2009

Hales Court Expansion Back on Track Thanks to U.S. Funding

Plans to expand the Westport Housing Authority’s Hales Court low-income housing development are back on track thanks to a $34 million award Friday by the U.S. Treasury Image
One of the Hales Court units that are part of the $24 million renovation and expansion project. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for

Plans for building 78 new housing units, doubling its current size, had been put on hold because the federal and state funding arrangements became a victim of the poor economy. Westport’s Planning and Zoning Commission approved the plans in December. (See WestportNow Dec. 19, 2008)

A total of $486 million was released Friday to Connecticut and 10 other states and the Virgin Islands as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

“This award comes at a critical time for Connecticut’s residents,” said Timothy Bannon, president and executive director of the Connecticut Housing Finance Authority (CHFA), which will distribute the funds.

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Posted 04:30 AM
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Friday, July 10, 2009

Comings and Goings: Smith & Hawken to Close Image
Westport’s Smith & Hawken store at 1045 Post Road East will soon be shut down as the symbol of high-end gardening for more than 30 years is going out of business. Scotts Miracle-Gro, which purchased the business in 2004, has announced that it will shut down all of Smith & Hawken’s 56 U.S. stores by the end of the year and the Web site and call center will stop taking catalog orders immediately. The Westport store opened in November 2003. (See WestportNow Nov. 24, 2003) (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for

Posted 08:54 PM
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Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Suit Filed Against Westport National Over Madoff Losses

A lawsuit was filed today against the owner of the Westport National Bank on behalf of retirement account holders who say they lost $60 million that the bank invested with convicted swindler Bernard Madoff. Image
Suit was filed against Westport National Bank today in Stamford Superior Court. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for

The lawsuit was filed in Stamford Superior Court against Connecticut Community Bank N.A., owner of Westport National Bank, 1495 Post Road East.

The lawsuit said that if Westport National Bank had not failed to perform its duties as custodians of the accounts, which would have required Madoff to deliver the securities he claimed to be buying, the plaintiffs would not have been victims.

“That was the protection the account holders had against fraud — you can’t run a Ponzi scheme if you have to deliver the securities you’re supposed to purchase,” David S. Golub, an attorney with Silver Golub & Teitell LLP representing the plaintiffs, said in a statement announcing the suit.

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Posted 10:45 PM
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Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Westport Investment Group to Take Over Waterworks

UPDATE A Westport-based investment company said today it has reached an agreement to acquire Waterworks Inc., the Danbury luxury bathroom retailer which filed for Chapter 11 reorganization in May. Image
Waterworks, a retail bath accessories shop that had been at 181 Main St. for 10 years and in Westport since 1981, closed its Westport store on April 24. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for

Design Investors LLC is leading a group of investors in the acquisition, which is waiting for approval from a bankruptcy judge, Design Investors said in a news release.

Waterworks voluntarily filed for Chapter 11 in May, closed 20 of its stores nationwide and laid off more than 70 workers - including some in Connecticut, including Westport. (See WestportNow May 1, 2009)

The company has been in business more than 30 years and at one time, it had 38 stores in many major U.S. cities, including Los Angeles, Miami and New York.

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Posted 05:28 PM
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Thursday, July 02, 2009

Crabtree & Evelyn Files for Bankruptcy Image
Soap and lotion seller Crabtree & Evelyn Ltd., which has its Westport store at 136 Main St., says it filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, a victim of the recession and management missteps. The company, a unit of Crabtree & Evelyn Holdings in Britain, said it would continue to operate its stores and would honor gift cards and returns as it reorganizes under bankruptcy protection. The company said it would close some stores and try to renegotiate leases for others. It currently operates 126 stores in 34 states and employs about 950 people. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow/ file photo

Posted 04:34 PM
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Thursday, June 25, 2009

Westport $12.5 Million Bond Sale Goes to PNC Capital Markets

Westport today awarded its $12.5 million general obligation bond sale to PNC Capital Markets at a special meeting of the Board of Selectmen.

The bonds, maturing from 2010 to 2029, sold at an average interest rate of 3.56 percent, said First Selectman Gordon F. Joseloff.

“This is the most favorable rate on Westport debt in four decades,” he said. “We are extremely gratified by the auction results.”

Proceeds from the bond sale will finance various school, sewer and municipal improvements.

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Posted 08:03 PM
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Moody’s Affirms Westport’s Triple-A Rating

UPDATE Moody’s Investor Service has affirmed Westport’s triple-A rating, First Selectman Gordon F. Joseloff announced today.

The rating service assigned its highest Aaa rating to the town’s $12.5 million General Obligation Bonds, Issue of 2009. It also affirmed the Aaa rating on the town’s parity debt, Joseloff said.

Proceeds from the bond sale will finance various school, sewer and municipal improvements. The bonds, maturing from 2010 to 2029, sold at an average interest rate of 3.56 percent. PNC Capital Markets won the bidding for the offering.

“We are very pleased with the rating review,” Joseloff said. “Despite these difficult economic times, it shows that Westport’s finances are in good shape.”

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Posted 02:52 AM
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Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Comings and Goings: Artisan Kitchens to Open Image
Another entrepreneur has chosen Westport to open a business.  According to owner John Minnock of Newtown, Artisan Kitchens and Countertops will open at 1252 Post Road East (next to Greens Farms Spirits Shop) around the first week of August.  “Now is the time to get a good deal on leases” he said. The proud father of two children, Minnock said the business will be family operated which includes his wife Gail who will do the bookkeeping and son-in-law Steve. Minnock, who operated his business for two years at 941 Danbury Ave. in Wilton, chose to move to Westport because he said most of his clients live here and to take advantage of more favorable leasing arrangements. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for

Posted 11:56 PM
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Westporter Says State Found No Evidence of Customer Abuse

The Westporter who heads a Stamford-based energy company which has agreed to refund $2.1 million in credits and cash for overcharging customers last summer said today the state found no evidence of intentional customer abuse. Image
Jeffrey Mayer “Customers were compensated for any mistakes.” Dave Matlow/WN file photo

“After an investigation of our retail electricity business, the state bodies made no finding of intentional customer protection abuse,” said MXenergy CEO Jeffrey Mayer in a statement. Mayer is the Democratic chair of Westport’s Board of Finance.

“In fact, they confirmed what we ourselves discovered after an internal investigation,” he said. “We have taken several steps to make sure that all customers were compensated for any mistakes we may have made.”

The Department of Utility Control (DPUC) began its investigation in August 2008, and was joined by the Office of the Attorney General and Office of Consumer Counsel.

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Posted 02:02 AM
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Sunday, June 21, 2009

Comings and Goings: Conte’s Opens at Westport Inn Image
Conte’s Restaurant, formerly at 540 Riverside Ave. (see WestportNow March 26, 2009 and April 11, 2009) has opened for business at the Westport Inn, 1595 Post Road East. The restaurant will be open six days a week, closed Mondays. It will serve a Sunday brunch 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.; lunch Tuesday-Thursday 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.; dinner Tuesday-Thursday 5:30 p.m. to 10 p.m., and Friday and Saturday until 11 p.m. After 11 p.m., there will be a bar menu. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for

Posted 05:49 PM
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Thursday, June 18, 2009

Comings and Goings: Five Guys Burgers and Fries Image
UPDATE The Westport Planning and Zoning Commission Thursday night approved a request for a permit and site plan for Five Guys Burgers and Fries, a fast food chain to be located at 538 Post Road East, previously occupied by Totally Kool women’s apparel. The Five Guys chain was founded in Arlington, Va. in 1986 and has expanded to 450 locations in 25 states. The Westport site, which the company hopes to open by Nov. 1, would be its eighth location in Connecticut. The others are in Newtown, Orange, Brookfield, New Haven. Avon, Wethersfield, and Mystic. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for

Posted 11:13 AM
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Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Comings and Goings: Sunny Daes Ice Cream to Open Image
Fuel oil tanks were removed today at Westport’s 30 Riverside Ave. where Sunny Daes Ice Cream will open in about two months, according to Peter Wiehl, a principal of Pepper Partners, LLC of Trumbull, landlord of the property. Wiehl said this will be the fifth location for Sunny Daes which is owned by Sergio Keskin of Trumbull who also operates two shops in Fairfield and one each in Trumbull and Stamford. WestportNow first reported on the ice cream chain’s arrival in February. (See WestportNow Feb. 18, 2009)  (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for

Posted 09:33 PM
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