MISSING AMISH GIRLS
Life easing back to normal in NY Amish community
OSWEGATCHIE, N.Y. (AP) - Life among the Amish in a northern New York community is easing into a sense of normalcy a week after two young sisters were kidnapped from their family farm and as more allegations emerge about their day in captivity.
Smiling men waved from their buggies at passing strangers this week as the girls' father stood with his arms draped loosely around two of his young boys, offering produce for sale at the farm stand where the 7- and 12-year-old girls were lured into a car on Aug. 13.
The father says his daughters are "doing fine."
Investigators continue to go through evidence from the home of 25-year-old Nicole Vaisey and 39-year-old Stephen Howells Jr. They're being held on kidnapping charges.
Authorities say the couple intended to keep the girls as slaves and sexually abused them.
1 dead, 4 injured in 2-vehicle crash on rural road
COLCHESTER, N.Y. (AP) - Authorities say one person is dead and four others are in critical condition after a two-vehicle crash on a rural upstate New York road.
The Delaware County Sheriff's Office tells The Daily Star of Oneonta (http://bit.ly/1wh5VDv ) that the head-on collision occurred around 10 a.m. Thursday on a road in the town of Colchester, on the western border of the Catskill Park 75 miles southwest of Albany.
Deputies say a man who was the sole occupant of one of the vehicles was killed. Police say all four people in the other vehicle were injured. They're listed in critical but stable condition at Westchester Medical Center in Valhalla.
Deputies say the names of those involved in the accident are being withheld until their families can be notified.
The cause of the accident is being investigated.
Parole denied yet again for Lennon's killer
NEW YORK (AP) - A parole board has again declined to release John Lennon's killer.
It's the eighth time 59-year-old Mark David Chapman has been denied parole. New York corrections officials announced the decision Friday.
They say a three-member board denied Chapman's parole after a hearing Wednesday.
Chapman shot Lennon outside the former Beatle's Manhattan apartment building in December 1980. The musician, singer, songwriter and activist was 40.
Chapman pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in 1981 and was sentenced to 20 years to life in prison.
BANK OF AMERICA SETTLEMENT-NY
New York mulls how to use $300M bank settlement
ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) - Candidates and state officials in New York are proposing ways to use $300 million the state will receive as part of the national Bank of America settlement.
Several candidates for the state Senate say the money could help local school districts reduce property taxes.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo's office says his administration is inclined to spend the money on one-time expenses such as transportation infrastructure and not on new programs that would need additional funding when the settlement money runs out.
Bank of America will also pay New York another $500 million in the form of mortgage modifications and other measures to help consumers and local communities.
The settlement is part of a $16.65 billion national settlement over the bank's role in the 2008 financial crisis.
SPECIAL EDUCATION FUNDS
NYC comptroller says city losing special ed funds
NEW YORK (AP) - New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer says the city failed to secure $356 million in federal Medicaid payments for special education services over the last three years.
Stringer says in a report Friday that the city Department of Education must improve its claims process so that it can recoup its spending on Medicaid-eligible services.
Stringer adds that the state and federal governments should cut the red tape that makes it difficult for cities to be reimbursed.
A spokeswoman for the Department of Education says the department believes its corrective action plan along with additional actions taken this year will result in increased Medicaid revenue.
TOWN OFFICIAL CHARGED
NY developer charged in campaign donation probe
HALFMOON, N.Y. (AP) - A prominent Albany-area developer has been arrested in connection with a government corruption investigation in a suburban town.
The Times Union of Albany reports that Bruce Tanski was arraigned Friday morning in Saratoga County Court on a charges of offering a false instrument and violating election laws.
Tanski, owner of a construction and development company, is one of the largest contributors to the Republican Party in the town of Halfmoon.
According to the FBI and state Attorney General's Office, the builder used business associates to conceal some of his political donations.
Tanski's holdings in southern Saratoga County include commercial properties, a golf course and thousands of apartments.
A call to his lawyer wasn't immediately returned.
In October, authorities indicted Halfmoon Supervisor Melinda Wormuth on federal bribery and extortion charges. She resigned in November.
UTILITY VEHICLE STOLEN-ARREST
Boston man charged with stealing New York vehicle
HYDE PARK, N.Y. (AP) - Authorities say they've charged a Massachusetts man with stealing a $23,000 utility vehicle from a Hudson Valley business after claiming to be a member of a Boston-area emergency services unit.
The Dutchess County Sheriff's Office says Timothy MacDonald of Boston contacted a Hyde Park business about buying a Polaris Ranger. Deputies say he told the business owners he was a member of the Suffolk County Emergency Services Unit and sent them a purchase order that turned out to be false.
Police say MacDonald picked up the truck in June but never sent a check for payment. The sheriff's office began its investigation in July and arrested MacDonald Aug. 13.
The vehicle was recovered in Maine.
MacDonald was charged with grand larceny. He's being held in the Dutchess County Jail. It couldn't be determined if he has a lawyer.
FORT DRUM-LIGHTNING INJURIES
6 soldiers hurt by lightning strike at Fort Drum
FORT DRUM, N.Y. (AP) - Army officials say six soldiers are recovering after lightning struck during a field exercise at Fort Drum in northern New York.
A Fort Drum spokeswoman says the soldiers were training on a range when lightning hit the area around 9:15 p.m. Thursday.
Officials say six soldiers were taken to a hospital for treatment of injuries not considered life-threatening. Spokeswoman Julie Halpin says four returned to duty as of Friday morning, while two remain hospitalized.
The nature of the injuries and details of the lightning strike haven't been released.
In August 2012, a lightning strike injured 10 New Jersey National Guard soldiers who were training at Fort Drum, 70 miles north of Syracuse.
Fitbit to Schumer: We don't sell personal data
ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) - The maker of a popular line of wearable fitness-tracking devices says it has never sold personal data to advertisers, contrary to concerns raised by U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer.
Schumer said Friday he hopes other manufacturers of wearable devices adopt similarly transparent rules.
Many Americans wear fitness bracelets and monitors or use mobile apps to monitor their activity.
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