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CORRUPTION COMMISSION-CUOMO

New York Gov. Cuomo faces corruption probe queries

FREEPORT, N.Y. (AP) - New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo is looking to move past allegations that his administration meddled with an anti-corruption commission but questions about his office's involvement aren't going away.

The Democratic governor traveled to Long Island on Wednesday to discuss help for homeowners rebuilding after Superstorm Sandy.

But he ended up fielding questions about the political storm regarding his top aide Larry Schwartz's efforts to stop the corruption commission from issuing subpoenas to groups linked to the governor.

Cuomo says Schwartz only offered suggestions and says the commission's decision to ignore those suggestions shows his office didn't interfere. He again pointed to a statement from one of the commission's leaders saying there was no interference from the Cuomo administration.

Cuomo created the commission last year and abruptly disbanded it this spring.

NYC MAYOR-MORELAND COMMISSION

NYC mayor: Too busy to heed state corruption probe

NEW YORK (AP) - New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio says he has not been following accusations that Gov. Andrew Cuomo's administration interfered with a state anti-corruption commission.

Cuomo has been fielding questions about a top aide's efforts to stop the commission from issuing subpoenas to groups linked to the governor. Cuomo says the now-disbanded commission's decision to ignore mere suggestions by the aide shows his office didn't interfere.

De Blasio said Wednesday that he has "a lot of other things to do" and hasn't monitored the story.

Despite that, he criticized Republican gubernatorial candidate Rob Astorino for saying Cuomo behaved like a mafia boss.

De Blasio said he was "particularly offended" as an Italian-American.

The mayor also defended Cuomo, a fellow Democrat, as "a person of high integrity."

MEDICAID REIMBURSEMENT

NY to appeal federal Medicaid claim for $1.25B

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) - The New York Health Department says it will appeal a federal claim for the return of more than $1.25 billion in Medicaid funds, saying federal authorities previously approved that funding and the claw back could hurt the state's health care system.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services says it issued the "disallowance" last week, which was discussed at a congressional hearing Tuesday, along with an audit report saying New York was overpaid another $200 million that should be refunded.

The $1.25 billion claim stems from New York's care in 2010-2011 for the developmentally disabled in large institutions, which are being phased out.

The state's Medicaid spending for 5.8 million low-income New Yorkers' health care was $55.6 billion last year, half reimbursed by the federal government.

OFFICER CHARGED

Troy police officer accused of tipping off suspect

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) - New York authorities have accused an upstate New York police officer of tipping off a suspect in advance of a drug raid.

State Police and the Attorney General's Office charged Troy Police Officer Brian Gross, who was assigned to help a state narcotics enforcement team, with evidence tampering, official misconduct and obstruction.

Gross pleaded not guilty Wednesday and was released without bail.

Authorities say the state police team was investigating a drug ring in Rensselear County since last year.

WWII-SAIPAN MIAS

Japanese search US archives for WWII MIA info

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. (AP) - A Japanese group is combing a New York military museum's World War II records for information it hopes will lead to the graves of Americans still listed as missing in action on the Pacific island of Saipan.

Kuentai-(KOO'-en-tye)-USA - which normally searches for the remains of Japan's war dead - says it's racing the clock: A developer plans to begin construction in the fall on a condominium near the beach where scores of American soldiers died in Japan's largest mass suicide attack of the war.

The group has found the remains of at least two American fighting men near the construction site and believes as many as 16 others are buried nearby.

The Pentagon says developers on Saipan are subject to stringent historic preservation laws, and if a suspected burial site is found to be in imminent danger, it will send in a recovery team.

GAS DRILLING-SALT CAVERNS

Winemakers want NY to deny gas storage permits

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) - Finger Lakes winemakers and other business owners are asking Gov. Andrew Cuomo to deny permits for natural gas and propane storage facilities in former salt mines along Seneca Lake.

Opponents of Houston-based Crestwood Midstream's project are holding a news conference in Albany Wednesday afternoon to outline their objections. They say it would endanger one of the state's largest supplies of drinking water, the local economy, and the region's wine and tourism industry.

The project, which would expand natural gas storage capacity and add underground propane storage, is awaiting permits from the state Department of Environmental Conservation.

The Schuyler County Legislature passed a resolution in June calling for state approval of the project, saying the salt caverns have been used for natural gas and propane storage for decades without incident.

CAMPUS SEXUAL ASSAULT

Senators seek to curb campus sexual assault

WASHINGTON (AP) - Campus sexual assault victims are joining senators on Capitol Hill in announcing legislation designed to make colleges more accountable to rape victims.

The effort was led by two Democratic senators, Claire McCaskill and Kirsten Gillibrand, but the legislation has bipartisan support. It would require campuses to designate a confidential adviser for victims and to develop an agreement with local law enforcement over how such cases are handled.

The action on Capitol Hill further escalates the dialogue in Washington on an issue long handled locally. A White House task force on campus sexual assault earlier this year recommended a series of actions schools should take, and the Education Department took the unprecedented step of releasing the names of schools facing federal investigation for the way they handle sexual abuse allegations.

ELDERLY WOMAN SLAIN

Indictment in killing of NY woman, 85

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. (AP) - A suburban New York man is charged with beating an 85-year-old woman to death while stealing copper pipes and brass objects from her home.

Westchester County District Attorney Janet DiFiore announced a 17-count indictment against Lloyd Lewis on Wednesday. The top charge is first-degree murder.

Emma Gruber was last seen alive on Feb. 10 when a senior center bus dropped her off at her Mount Vernon home.

A relative filed a missing person report. Detectives found her body on Feb. 12, under a large pile of clothes and a piece of plywood at the bottom of her basement stairs.

Authorities say a blood-stained wooden 2-by-4 was found nearby.

A message requesting comment from Lewis' attorney was not immediately returned.

RECORD PROMOTER-LEGAL SAGA

Figure in '80s payola probe faces NY gambling case

NEW YORK (AP) - A Hollywood record promoter and movie producer who successfully fought a major payola prosecution but later admitted to loan sharking is facing new charges in a New York City gambling case.

Joe Isgro pleaded not guilty Wednesday in a New York City gambling case. He's accused of helping run a mob-linked betting operation.

Isgro was a leading record promoter in the 1980s and was executive producer of the 1992 biopic "Hoffa."

In 1990, he went on trial in Los Angeles in a case about payola - bribing radio station employees to play certain records. A federal judge threw out the case, which had been the biggest payola prosecution in decades.

In 2000, Isgro was charged with loan sharking. He pleaded guilty to extortion and served about three years in federal prison.

YOUTH FOOTBALL OFFICIAL-THEFT

Ex-youth football league official headed to prison

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) - The former regional director of a New Jersey youth football league has been sentenced to more than two years in prison for stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars from the organization.

Federal prosecutors say 58-year-old David Marshall received a 27-month sentence Wednesday. He had pleaded guilty in January to wire fraud.

Marshall was the eastern region director for Pop Warner Little Scholars, one of several volunteer posts he held in the organization from 2005-2011. He was responsible for financial matters and had access to bank and credit card accounts.

Marshall admitted using the funds he stole to pay off personal debts, make cash withdrawals and buy personal items.

The eastern region covers Delaware, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania and Washington.

STOP AND FRISK

NY judge rejects stop-frisk police union claims

NEW YORK (AP) - A judge has rejected efforts by police unions to overturn a ruling concluding that New York City's stop-and-frisk tactics are sometimes discriminatory.

Judge Analisa Torres issued the decision Wednesday. The unions had sued to get the ruling overturned after the city decided to settle the case. It agreed to make reforms to the program to ensure there is no discrimination against minorities.

The judge rejected the unions' claims the reputations of their members were damaged by the decision finding discrimination.

She says employees suffer no legally protectable harm to their reputation merely because their employer is found liable in a lawsuit. She also says they had no legal standing.

She says police unions can participate in a process to reform the stop-and-frisk program.

A union official promised an appeal.

MUSIC FESTIVAL DEATH-ARREST

Drug charges for NY man after festival death

NEW YORK (AP) - An upstate New York man is facing narcotics charges in connection to the overdose death of another man at a New York City music festival.

U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara says Patrick Morgan, 23, of Buffalo, New York, was arrested Wednesday morning. He faces a charge of conspiring to distribute narcotics and another count of distributing narcotics.

Authorities say Morgan sold MDMA, or ecstasy, to three other men in August 2013. The men later attended the Electric Zoo music festival on Randall's Island in New York City at the end of that month. One of the men, 23-year-old Jeffrey Russ of Rochester, New York, died at the festival. Authorities ruled his death was caused by an overdose of MDMA combined with hyperthermia.

Information on Morgan's attorney was not immediately available.

PORT LAWSUIT

Judge tosses lawsuit by NY ports' largest operator

NEWARK, N.J. (AP) - A judge has dismissed a lawsuit filed by the operator of the largest marine container terminal at the Port of New York and New Jersey.

Maher Terminals has operated at the Elizabeth-Port Authority Marine Terminal for more than 60 years and leases a 445-acre terminal from the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. The company paid about $22 million in basic rent in 2012, according to court filings.

In 2012, Maher filed a federal lawsuit accusing the Port Authority of charging it discriminatory and excessive fees for loading and unloading vessels.

In a ruling last week, a judge in Newark said the Port Authority didn't run afoul of federal maritime laws by charging the fees, some of which were used to help pay for a harbor deepening project.

CHARITIES CASE

New York charity executive accused of larceny

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) - New York authorities have accused an executive in charge of two charities established to help addicts with misusing $1 million in state funds to pay staff and cover deficits instead of providing programs.

Attorney General Eric Schneiderman says Jacqueline Gentile, chief operating officer of 820 River Street Inc. and The Altamont Program Inc., has been indicted by a Schenectady County grand jury on grand larceny and falsifying business records.

Gentile has pleaded not guilty and been released on $25,000 bail.

Investigators allege that for six months she completed false time sheets for a no-show job for William Frank Boyland, father of ex-Assemblyman William Boyland Jr., who had sponsored $1.5 million in state funds for one of the nonprofits.

Both are subsidiaries of Peter Young Housing, Industries and Treatment.

OFFICER CHARGED

Troy police officer accused of tipping off suspect

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) - New York authorities have accused an upstate New York police officer of tipping off a suspect in advance of a drug raid.

State Police and the Attorney General's Office charged Troy Police Officer Brian Gross, who was assigned to help a state narcotics enforcement team, with evidence tampering, official misconduct and obstruction.

Gross pleaded not guilty Wednesday and was released without bail.

Authorities say the state police team was investigating a drug ring in Rensselear County since last year.

WWII-SAIPAN MIAS

Japanese search US archives for WWII MIA info

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. (AP) - A Japanese group is combing a New York military museum's World War II records for information it hopes will lead to the graves of Americans still listed as missing in action on the Pacific island of Saipan.

Kuentai-(KOO'-en-tye)-USA - which normally searches for the remains of Japan's war dead - says it's racing the clock: A developer plans to begin construction in the fall on a condominium near the beach where scores of American soldiers died in Japan's largest mass suicide attack of the war.

The group has found the remains of at least two American fighting men near the construction site and believes as many as 16 others are buried nearby.

The Pentagon says developers on Saipan are subject to stringent historic preservation laws, and if a suspected burial site is found to be in imminent danger, it will send in a recovery team.

GAS DRILLING-SALT CAVERNS

Winemakers want NY to deny gas storage permits

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) - Finger Lakes winemakers and other business owners are asking Gov. Andrew Cuomo to deny permits for natural gas and propane storage facilities in former salt mines along Seneca Lake.

Opponents of Houston-based Crestwood Midstream's project are holding a news conference in Albany Wednesday afternoon to outline their objections. They say it would endanger one of the state's largest supplies of drinking water, the local economy, and the region's wine and tourism industry.

The project, which would expand natural gas storage capacity and add underground propane storage, is awaiting permits from the state Department of Environmental Conservation.

The Schuyler County Legislature passed a resolution in June calling for state approval of the project, saying the salt caverns have been used for natural gas and propane storage for decades without incident.

COPPER WIRE-ANTI-THEFT PROGRAM

Con Edison launches copper anti-theft program

NEW YORK (AP) - Con Edison has launched a program aimed at deterring copper wire thefts and protecting its equipment.

The utility is spraying identifying markings on copper and equipment that's invisible to the naked eye but visible with a UV light.

The program allows police to identify who stole a piece of metal and from where.

Copper is used in Con Edison's electrical delivery system. Thieves often sell the copper to scrapyards for cash.

Under the program, the company will work with the police to review records and products at metal and scrapyards.

Con Ed says there were 155 copper cable thefts in 2013. The metal was removed from manholes, trucks and company facilities.

It says copper theft is a leading cause of power outages.

FUGITIVE ARREST-SHOOTOUT

3rd wounded law enforcer leaves NYC hospital

NEW YORK (AP) - The third law enforcement officer injured in a Manhattan shootout has been released from the hospital.

Detective Mario Muniz was released from Bellevue Hospital shortly after noon Wednesday.

Hundreds of his fellow police officers cheered as Muniz left the hospital in a wheelchair pushed by his NYPD patrol partner, Joseph Trovato.

Muniz left a day after two U.S. marshals shot in the West Village gunfight also were released.

Police Commissioner William Bratton has said the detective's protective vest may have saved his life.

The suspect was killed during Monday's shootout in bustling Greenwich Village. Authorities say the California man had skipped town after being accused of molesting a boy.

AMAZON-NEW JERSEY

Amazon ships first order from New Jersey

ROBBINSVILLE, N.J. (AP) - The world's biggest online retailer has shipped its first order from its new distribution center in New Jersey.

The Interplak All-In-One Sonic Water Jet was sent from Robbinsville to an Amazon customer in New York.

Amazon.com says it expects to employ more than 1,000 full-time employees at the 1-million-square-foot center just outside of Trenton.

As part of a deal with the state, the Seattle-based retailer will be eligible for state economic assistance grants totaling millions of dollars on its investment, which is expected to exceed $200 million.

Amazon.com Inc., in turn, agreed to collect 7 percent sales tax on purchases made in New Jersey starting in July 2013.

GENERAL MOTORS-LAWSUIT

Lawyer sues GM on behalf of 658 plaintiffs

DETROIT (AP) - A Texas lawyer has sued General Motors on behalf of 658 people injured or killed in crashes allegedly caused by faulty ignition switches.

The lawsuit filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Manhattan names 29 people who were killed and 629 who were hurt. All the crashes occurred after GM left bankruptcy protection in July 2009. That makes them exempt from GM's efforts to shield itself from claims due to crashes that happened before the bankruptcy, attorney Robert Hilliard said.

Hilliard said he wants to file another 248 cases from before the bankruptcy, including 21 deaths.

The lawsuit alleges GM knew about defective switches that can cause engines to stall since 2001, yet it didn't recall any cars until this year. GM would not comment on the lawsuit.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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