Traveling days end for New London man on the run

A 32-year-old man who skipped out on his probation obligations 10 years ago to join a traveling carnival has been rearrested and sentenced to one year in prison.

Jeffrey Hart of New London is expected to be turned over to Norfolk, Va., police upon his release from Connecticut's Department of Correction, since he also is wanted for a probation violation in that city, according to prosecutor Paul J. Narducci.

Hart was convicted of carrying a dangerous weapon and threatening in 1999. He had displayed a knife while attempting to hold up a man on Truman Street, according to a police report. He received a suspended prison sentence and three years of probation.

In 2000, his probation officer applied for an arrest warrant, saying Hart had stopped reporting to a drug and mental health treatment program and failed to keep the probation office aware of his location. Hart's grandmother, with whom he sometimes stayed, told the officer that Hart had gone to work for the carnival and was no longer in the area.

Hart returned to Connecticut at some point, and two months ago a New London police officer stopped him as he walked on Broad Street. The officer wrote in a police report that Hart's clothing resembled the description of a man who had walked into a downtown hotel and told the desk clerk there was a bomb in one of the rooms. Hart was nervous, according to the officer, and said his name was Jackob Hart. He was also carrying a crushed pill in a small plastic bag, police said.

Police used Hart's date of birth and fingerprints to confirm his identity, and learned that he was wanted in Connecticut and Virginia.

As he entered his guilty plea in New London Superior Court on Wednesday, Hart appeared disoriented and continually looked to his attorney, Thomas W. Teixeira, for the correct answers to a series of questions that Judge Susan B. Handy asked to ensure he understood the proceeding. He told the judge he was dizzy and had not been able to sleep lately.

Virginia authorities are expected to request that Connecticut officials turn him over to them once he completes his Connecticut sentence. Hart was convicted of second-degree robbery and assault and battery of a police officer in Norfolk, Va., according to a court record. In 2007, he was placed on probation for 10 years in that case.

- Karen Florin

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