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Monday, April 21, 2014

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Man charged with falsely reporting incident, reckless endangerment during Darien storm

Published 1:03 am, Thursday, April 22, 2010
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Update: According to the state’s attorney, the case against Dr. Cucolo was dismissed.

Matthew Cucolo, 30, of Wolcott, was charged with second-degree falsely reporting an incident and second-degree reckless endangerment after turning himself in to Darien Police on a warrant on Wednesday, April 14.

The warrant stemmed from an incident that occurred during the early morning hours of Sunday, March 14, during the height of the Nor'easter that slammed the town.

Police received a phone call from a 29-year-old New Canaan woman who was trapped in her vehicle on Dew Lane, and was unable to get out, due to trees and power lines blocking the road at about 10 p.m. on Saturday, March 13, according to Capt. Fred Komm. She said she was not in immediate danger, and an officer told her it would be several hours before police would be able to reach her, Komm said. The police department received more than 350 emergency phone calls during a 12-hour period that night, Komm said.

Cucolo called the department at 1:50 a.m. on Sunday, identifying himself as the woman's doctor as well as her fiancé, according to Komm. He "demanded she be rescued," and told police that he was in Key West, and she told him that she was scared because she didn't have any water, police said. He also told police that she did not have access to her medication, and that she has a "condition," according to police. He also said she could not knock on doors to ask residents for water, since she does not speak English well, police said.

He told the officer on the phone that he is "well connected" in town, and that he would take the incident to the press if the police did not respond, Komm said. He became vulgar with the officer on the phone, and the officer hung up on him, according to police.

Cucolo immediately called back, and spoke with a second officer, who told Cucolo that there was nothing the department could do at that time, Komm said. At that point, the storm had reached such a severity that Connecticut Light & Power crews had been pulled off duty for the night due to safety reasons, Komm said.

Cucolo, who is not a medical doctor but is a practicing chiropractor, described the woman's medical condition as diabetes, and told the second police officer that the woman was in "immediate danger," according to the police report. Cucolo said the department needed to respond immediately; because of his "language and agitated state" the second officer hung up the phone, according to Komm.

He then called back a third time, at which point a third officer "tried to reason with him," Komm said. Again, Cucolo was obscene and threatened to "go to the press," and the officer hung up on him, police said. Five minutes later, Cucolo called again, and said the woman's cell phone battery was dying and he could not get a hold of her; he also told police again that she was scared and did not speak English well.

"Based on the potential of a medical emergency, we took extraordinary measures," Komm said.

Three officers were dispatched to walk 0.7 miles through the woods to reach the woman at 3:30 a.m., Komm said. The officers parked on Stephen Mather Road near Brookside Road and walked to Dew Lane, where the woman was parked.

According to Komm, the officers walked through the heavy rain in the dark woods, where they heard trees falling around them, and they were unable to see active power lines until they were very close, potentially putting the officers in danger.

"Like we don't have enough to do, we've got three officers walking through the woods," Komm aid.

The officers were ultimately able to locate the vehicle in the driveway on Dew Lane, where the woman was parked alongside another vehicle, which contained a family of three. When officers approached the woman, she told them she was not a diabetic.

"She speaks English very well," Komm said.

The woman, who lives on Weed Street in New Canaan, told the officers that while she used to date Cucolo, they broke up about a year ago and he was neither her doctor, nor her fiancé, police said. She also said that she had not been treated for diabetes since she was a child, and had no symptoms of the disease, according to police.

She said that she had spoken with Cucolo on the phone at about 11:30 p.m. on Saturday before her battery died, at which point she had told him she had no water and was somewhat scared, but she did not mention anything to him about diabetes or distress that night, according to police. She told police that while she was thirsty, she felt safe in her vehicle; the family parked adjacent to her also had two working cell phones, police said.

"This put our people in jeopardy," Komm said on Monday.

"The officers wouldn't have been available for a true medical emergency ... . Luckily nobody got hurt," he said. "When we've got all these calls, and all hell breaking loose like that, to have something like this occur is totally irresponsible, uncalled for and reckless."

Cucolo was released on a promise to appear in court on Monday, April 26.