All posts by Angela Fortuna

Conman Frank Abagnale Tells All About His Life

by Patrick Gustavson

Imagine constantly running from authority, knowing capture is inevitable, but having no fear at all. For six years, that was the life of Frank Abagnale, a notorious conman who traveled the world, forging checks and stealing identities.

Abagnale ran away from home at the age of 16, following the unexpected divorce of his parents.

“Back in the 1960s, a lot of people ran away from home, but they ended up in Haight-Asbury, the hippy scene, the drug scene. Well, I ended up on the streets of Manhattan at 16 years old,” Abagnale said.

Realizing he needed to “get creative” to make money, he forged his driver’s license to say that he was 26, not 16. Between 1964 and 1969, he posed as a pilot, physician and attorney, all while writing one fraudulent check after another.

When describing why he chose to live such a daring life, Abagnale said: “It started out as survival, then people were chasing me and it was: ‘how am I [going to] run from all these people that are chasing me?’ until the ultimate end, where it became almost a game, where I knew that in the end, they’d catch me, and I’d have to go to jail.”

Despite knowing he would eventually be caught, this did not derail him from continuing to live such a dangerous lifestyle.

“I truly believe that I got away with most of the things I did, that people think are so fantastic, was because in fact I was an adolescent. I had no fear in being caught. I had no sense of the consequences. I just did it,” Abagnale said.

After finally being caught, and spending time in prison in France and Sweden, he was deported back to the United States, where he was sentenced to 12 years in federal prison.

Abagnale’s break came after serving just five years of his sentence, when the FBI offered to take him out of prison, in exchange for him working for them for the remaining duration of his sentence. This was a no-brainer for him, saying: “I wasn’t a rehabilitated person. I looked at it as, ‘well, this is an opportunity.’ This was an opportunity for me to get out of prison, so I thought, ‘I’ll do that.’”

Little did he know, this moment would turn into an illustrious 40-year career working for the FBI as an advisor, working to investigate crimes involving fraud or scams.

He would go on to write a book, “Catch Me If You Can,” about his experiences. His story was so compelling that it was picked up by Steven Spielberg, who turned it into a film that would be nominated for an Academy Award. Abagnale has mixed thoughts about the film.

“[Generally] I would have preferred that a movie had not been made about my life. It hasn’t affected me much, but now people know who I am,” Abagnale said.

About three years ago, Abagnale aligned with AARP and their “Fraud Watch Network,” and now travels the country, telling his story and educating on how to avoid fraud such as identity theft and phishing.

“When AARP contacted me, they were trying to start this fraud watch network, to educate their members [and non-members] about not being victimized by all these scams going on,” Abagnale said.

Abagnale educates on how anything from debit cards, emails, “public wifi,” iPhones and software updates can contribute to scams.

What makes Abagnale the proudest in life is not his career accomplishments, but rather, his family.

“God blessed me with a wife, and she blessed me with three beautiful children,” Abagnale said.

His oldest son even followed in his footsteps, becoming an FBI agent, a position he has held for 12 years. Abagnale called this the proudest moment of his life.

“What I truly strive for in life is to be a good husband, a good father, and a good daddy,” Abagnale said.

Despite having to “live for a burden to [his] death,” he knows he has been incredibly fortunate in his life, saying: “We live in a country where you can get a second chance. I owe my country more than I could repay for the last 40 years.”

Proposed Budget Cuts Vetoed By Governor Malloy Could Still Impact CCSU

by Angela Fortuna

Students and faculty protested huge budget cuts proposed by Republican lawmakers at the Legislative Office Building in Hartford on Sept. 27.

“CCSU had already felt the impact of a $66 million reduction to the CSCU system budget in the past three years. A further cut of $93 million over the next two years will be very serious,” said Louise Williams, history professor and president of the Central Connecticut State University American Association of University Professors. “It may mean up to a 10 percent cut in funding to CCSU.”

“What has happened this year and in the past few years because of previous cuts will simply get worse,” said Williams.

People came out to protest the budget that passed the Connecticut legislature on Sept. 15, which was recently vetoed by Governor Dannel Malloy.

In conjunction with his veto, Malloy called the proposal “unbalanced, unsustainable and unwise,” according to WFSB.

If a bipartisan deal cannot be reached, the veto override would require a two-thirds majority vote in both the House and Senate, which would mean 29 House Democrats would have to agree to the veto. This would be a big step and is very unlikely, since only three Democrats crossed the aisle and voted yes on the Republican budget, according to WFSB.

“This budget has the potential to do serious harm to CCSU, public higher education and the state of Connecticut as a whole,” Williams said.

Even though the original budget proposed by Republican lawmakers has been vetoed, that does not mean similar proposals cannot be put into effect.

If a similar budget is approved, then cuts will continue to worsen.

According to Williams, cuts that have already been put into place include an increase in class size, a reduction in class offerings, fewer courses for part-time faculty members, elimination of developmental education and reduction in support services.

This has already created difficulty for students in getting into classes needed to graduate and pursue the programs they choose, a continuously rising tuition and less one-on-one time with professors, according to Williams.

The budget proposed by Republican lawmakers cuts scholarship funding by $15 million, and eliminates the Minority Advancement Program, which could make students who struggle financially unable to attend state universities such as Central.

“Even [though] Governor Malloy vetoed this version of the budget, it becomes the starting point for further negotiations. Therefore all of the devastating provisions are still on the table unless we stand in solidarity and push back,” Williams said in an email addressed to CCSU-AAUP members.

“Our protest and others, such as UConn’s, have made legislators think twice about cutting higher education funding. It helps that we got so much support from more progressive legislators,” Williams said of the protest.

Six students spoke at the protest: Andrew Ianni from CCSU, Megan Hull from Eastern Connecticut State University, Jamie Kelley from Southern Connecticut State University, Kanita Moté from Southern Connecticut State University, Jules Larson from Gateway Community College and Brianna Nelson from Manchester Community College.

Ianni spoke on behalf of the incomplete budget plan, already making its way into October. He compared the unfinished business to old-fashioned procrastination, according to the Hartford Courant.

“Had I or any other students handed in an assignment of this magnitude late, it would have received an ‘F,'” Ianni said at the protest, according to the Hartford Courant.

Five legislators also spoke at the protest: Senator Mae Flexer and Representatives Greg Haddad, Robyn Porter, Toni Walker and Liz Linehan. Seven more legislators were present: Senators Cathy Osten and Gary Winfield and Representatives Matt Lesser, Josh Elliott, Kevin Ryan, Peter Tercyak and Pat Dillon.

Williams is hopeful that the protest will make a difference on the outcome of the proposed budget cuts, and that such large budget cuts follow Malloy’s example and get denied.

Students will face large repercussions financially if the proposed budget cuts of Republican lawmakers gets approved.

SGA Election Results

by Angela Fortuna

The Recorder would like to congratulate all newly elected Student Government Association Senators for the 2017-18 school year.

First Year Senators:

  • Johanna Zukowski received 145 votes.
  • Jamie Carbone received 141 votes.
  • Adaniel Thompson received 130 votes.
  • Porter Brasell received 117 votes.
  • Colin Savino received 116 votes.
  • Erick Ramos received 113 votes.

At Large Senator:

  • Joshua Quintana received 211 votes.

Commuter Senator:

  • Miranda Gazaferi received 82 votes.

Resident Senators:

  • Kristina DeVivo received 197 votes.
  • Dylan Goncalves received 117 votes.
  • Kiba Helmbracht received 82 votes.

Board of Regents Student Advisory Committee Representative:

  • Akai Long received 191 votes.

Senior Class President:

  • Sedina Begic received 84 votes.


New Flex Dollar System Confuses Returning Students

by Jennifer Sanguano Loor

Central Connecticut State University students expressed their confusion over the new addition of flex dollars to meal plans.

Flex dollars are a form of currency that can be used on different campus food locations such as Starbucks and Devil’s Den; they are included in resident student’s meal plans at the beginning of every semester.

This new implementation has caused doubts and confusion among some meal plan holders.

Victoria Elvir, a sophomore who works at the information desk in the Student Center expressed her take on flex dollars.

“One of the most asked questions we have this semester are about flex dollars. Usually returning students are the ones that ask about how they work, maybe because they are not used to use them,” Elvir said.

Returning students have expressed concerns about the new system, especially those who had meal plans before flex dollars were put into place.

Junior Jenna Raymond expressed her experience with flex dollars.

“At the beginning I didn’t even notice that they were there, I thought they were very like the blue chip money,” Raymond said.

Along with confusion, students have shown their concern about some limitations flex dollars might present. The meal plans available range from $2,498 to $2,798 and flex dollars are loaded automatically depending on the plan students choose. Flex dollars range from $100 to $300.

Since flex dollars are loaded only at the beginning of the semester, students who exhaust them may have to resort to other options.

“I expect them to last, but at the same time I’m preparing for the end of the semester which I think I might have to use some out-of-pocket money,” Raymond said.

Although Dining Services offers commuter meal plans, these are not eligible to include flex dollars.

Commuter student Madison Smith gave her opinion on flex dollars.

“I hope they can implement these flex dollars for every student that has an ID card. I think it is convenient to not carry cash on you, especially if you are a student,” Smith said. She emphasized that commuters also spend a lot of time on campus, and unfortunately, the meal plans for commuters have a restricted amount of meals.

Director of Student Center Operations, Otis Mamed, explained that flex dollars were officially introduced to give students a more flexible variety of food options on campus.

“In the past, students had what they used to call bonus meals, which could be used to either bring someone as a guest at the residence dining hall or be exchanged by a meal package at Devil’s Den,” Mamed said.

The limited options that bonus meals had were taken into consideration when implementing flex dollars starting this fall semester.

Students were unable to use bonus meals to purchase food at certain popular stores on campus including the Social Sciences Hall, Starbucks and locations in the Devil’s Den that they can now use flex dollars at.

“For some new students, it hasn’t been too hard to understand the new concept of flex dollars since it was just implemented this fall, but for returning students, confusion can be more common” Mamed said.

Mamed recommends that students keep themselves informed by using the different resources they can find on campus and online through the dining services webpage.

Trump Administration Considers Closing Embassy In Cuba – For What Reason?

by Angela Fortuna

United States Secretary of State Rex Tillerson announced last Sunday that the U.S. is considering closing its embassy in Havana, Cuba, just months after former President Barack Obama re-opened it.

The deliberation came after 21 employees at the U.S. Embassy in Cuba reported worsening medical problems beginning last year, according to the Washington Post.

Some of the affected employees now suffer from permanent hearing loss or concussions, while others had severe nausea, headaches and ear-ringing, according to the Al Jazeera Media Network.

Tillerson commented that the situation is currently “under evaluation.” Cuba has denied any responsibility for the incidents.

Even though the incidents began last year, the U.S. is onlying beginning to take action now. According to the Washington Post, Republican senators wrote to Tillerson last Friday, asking him to close the embassy and to expel Cuba’s diplomats from the U.S.

“If Cuba does not take tangible action, close the U.S. Embassy in Havana,” wrote the five Republican senators. “Cuba’s neglect of its duty to protect our diplomats and their families cannot go unchallenged.”

There is no doubt that the U.S. and Cuba have had a tense relationship for a long while. The Obama administration tried to make relations with Cuba better and restore communication, after many years.

Obama and Raul Castro, who replaced his brother Fidel as Cuban leader in 2008, took extraordinary steps to normalize bilateral relations, including meeting with each other, restoring full diplomatic ties and easing travel restrictions, according to the Council on Foreign Relations.

By considering such a big move, the Trump administration is jeopardizing connections with Cuba the Obama administration tried so hard to restore.

Having good relationships with other countries is essential for international trade and maintaining alliances. Closing an embassy in another country is a very risky move, and could affect the United States’ relationships with other countries.

Erin-Leigh Beecher, a coordinator for the Center of International Education, informed that when groups of students from Central Connecticut State University has traveled to Cuba in the past for study abroad programs, even before the Havana Embassy reopened, they have not run into any issues.

Beecher expects CCSU students and faculty traveling to Cuba in 2018 to travel without any problems, even if the U.S. Embassy in Cuba were to close.

A minor issue such as the illness at the embassy should not have such a big effect on the outcome of U.S. and Cuba relations.

The risks of closing the embassy outweigh the benefits, and could permanently damage U.S. and Cuban relations. With a situation like this, it is important to think about whether it is really worth it to go through so much hassle and frustration to resolve a minor issue.

Many students from all over the world travel to Cuba every year. Closing the embassy in Havana could cause a lot of unnecessary problems and could affect whether or not students and universities decide to continue their travels to Cuba.

If students and families run into issues while traveling to Cuba, where will they turn to for help and guidance?

The means of communication in countries outside of the U.S. are very different from the way Americans communicate with each other in the U.S. If there is no U.S. Embassy in Cuba, it will be nearly impossible to reach people outside of the country for help.

Closing a U.S. Embassy in any country will cause a lot of backlash and unnecessary problems while traveling.