Passed by reference notices in legacy php code

I have inherited some legacy code that is throwing some php notices which I would like to fix.  Here is the current notice:
PHP Notice:  Only variable references should be returned by reference in \wwwroot\classes\model\DatabasePeer.php on line 40

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and here is the code in DatabasePeer.php around line 40 (line 40 is line 2 here):
public static function &connect($host,$user,$pass) {        			
        		return @mssql_connect($host, $user, $pass);
        		return 1;
        }

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This function is called with the following code:
$conn = DatabasePeer::connect($CONFIG_DATABASE_HOST, $CONFIG_DATABASE_USERNAME, $CONFIG_DATABASE_PASSWORD);
try{
	$sqldb = DatabasePeer::select_db($CONFIG_DATABASE_NAME, $conn);
}catch(Exception $e){
	die("Couldn't open database $CONFIG_DATABASE_NAME".$e);
	exit();
}

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Any thoughts how I can change this code to prevent the notice?
wardjameAsked:
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Ray PaseurCommented:
If the code is working correctly, you can just suppress the Notice with this error reporting:

error_reporting(E_ALL ^ E_NOTICE);

Notice suppression is the standard "default" case for most PHP installations.
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Dave BaldwinFixer of ProblemsCommented:
That doesn't look right to me with two return statements.  It should be returning the 'resource' which is normally assigned to a variable.  Maybe this?

public static function &connect($host,$user,$pass) {        			
        		$resource = @mssql_connect($host, $user, $pass);
        		return $resource;
        }

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http://us3.php.net/manual/en/function.mssql-connect.php

Also note that if you upgrade to PHP 5.3 or greater, the 'php_mssql' functions are obselete, will not work, and are replaced by the Microsoft PHP SQL driver as noted here: http://us3.php.net/manual/en/intro.mssql.php   The current version is here http://www.microsoft.com/download/en/details.aspx?id=20098 and will not work on anything older than Windows Vista.
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