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Cuomo again defends handling of corruption probe

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.


Cuomo: speed up medical pot for kids with epilepsy

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) - New York's governor wants to speed up the implementation of the state's new medical marijuana law to help children with epilepsy get medication more quickly.

Right now it's expected to take 18 months for the state to get the medical marijuana program up and running. Many parents of children with epilepsy had said that is too long to wait.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Wednesday wrote to the state's health commissioner asking if the process can be accelerated.

Earlier this month New York became the 23rd state to authorize medical marijuana for patients with diseases including AIDS, cancer and epilepsy.

Parents of children with epilepsy were among the staunchest supporters for the new law, saying medical marijuana has shown promise in helping children with the condition.


Comment period extended again on crude oil project

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) - State regulators have again extended the public comment period for a fuel shipping company's plan to expand crude oil handling operations at the Port of Albany.

The Department of Environmental Conservation says Wednesday that the comment period on Global Companies' air permit application has been extended an additional 60 days until Sept. 30 because of broad public interest. It had been set to expire Aug. 1, after a previous 60-day extension.

Waltham, Massachusetts-based Global wants to add heating facilities at its Albany terminal so it can handle thick, tar-like crude oil of the sort that's being mined in western Canada.

Albany has become a key hub for western crude heading for East Coast refineries.


NY public defender challenges 1995 kidnap verdict

OSWEGO, N.Y. (AP) - A federal public defender has filed papers seeking the overturn of a 1995 kidnapping conviction in connection with the disappearance of an 18-year-old convenience store clerk.

Lisa Peebles filed the papers Wednesday in Oswego County Court.

The move comes in the wake of new evidence regarding Heidi Allen, who disappeared from her job on Easter Sunday 1994. Her body was never found.

Peebles alleges the Oswego County Sheriff's office withheld information that would have undermined the case against suspect Gary Thibodeau. The new evidence points to three other men, including one already in prison for two other murders.

An Oswego County jury convicted Thibodeau of first-degree kidnapping, a charge that presumes the victim died. He's serving 25 years to life in prison.


NY authorities charge 47 in Jamestown drug probe

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) - Authorities say they have charged 47 people with participating in a drug ring that brought heroin to Jamestown in western New York.

State, federal and local agencies say the year-long investigation, using secret surveillance and wiretaps, led to seizing more than 3,000 baggies of heroin with an estimated street value of $60,000.

The indictment in Chautauqua County Court charges the 47, nearly all from Jamestown or nearby communities, with charges including drug possession and conspiracy.

State Police Superintendent Joseph D'Amico says the case "speaks volumes" about how widespread heroin use has become.


Former New York cop sentenced for insurance fraud

BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) - A retired Buffalo police officer will avoid jail but must pay back $6,400 after inflating a car insurance claim.

U.S. Attorney William Hochul says 49-year-old Johnnie Fritz was sentenced Wednesday to 10 months in home confinement for his conviction on a charge of mail fraud.

Authorities say that in 2009, Fritz helped a co-conspirator collect a bigger insurance payout by inflating the value of a stolen Cadillac and that he also made three other unrelated false auto insurance claims.

Fritz also is accused of abusing his position as a police officer by opening a Department of Motor Vehicles account that gave him free access to DMV databases.


Party's over for New York man who hosted big bash

POMPEY, N.Y. (AP) - Authorities have arrested a 23-year-old central New York man who hosted a graduation party that got so big and rowdy that authorities called in a helicopter to help break it up.

Gregory York was arrested Tuesday night and arraigned in Town of Manlius Court on criminal trespass charges. He's being held on $2,500 cash bail after his mother decided to press charges.

Police were called to the party just before midnight on July 3 and found 200 cars parked on the street and an estimated 500 to 700 people engaged in a large outdoor bash that was getting out of control.

Deputies called for aerial assistance, and the helicopter hovered overhead, shining a spotlight as authorities dispersed the party-goers.

It could not be immediately determined if York has a lawyer.


NY invests $9 million in North Country broadband

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) - New York is investing $9 million to expand broadband access among older adults in the North Country.

The state announced the Wednesday that the money will pay to provide broadband access for about 2,500 households, along with 134 businesses and 33 community organizations.

The deal is part of a partnership with a network provider and a non-profit that works to get older adults connected to the Internet.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo says high-speed Internet access is an important resource that too many New Yorkers lack.

The state says more than 6 million New Yorkers don't have home broadband access.


Fort Drum chapel rededicated after $7M renovation

FORT DRUM, N.Y. (AP) - The main chapel at Fort Drum in northern New York has a new look after a $7 million renovation project.

The newly renovated Main Post Chapel will be rededicated during a ceremony Thursday.

The chapel has 12,000 square feet of new space. There is an expanded sanctuary, a new sacristy and a religious education wing.

Fort Drum is home to the Army's 10th Mountain Division.


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) - 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 during 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.

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

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