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TAX PREPARER CRACKDOWN

40 NY tax preparers never filed personal returns

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) - New York state has suspended the licenses of 40 tax preparers who state authorities say never filed their own returns in 2011 and 2012.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo says Wednesday that the disciplinary actions are part of the state's effort to regulate the tax preparation industry. Cuomo's office says more than 7 million New York residents use tax preparers.

New York is one of only four states that regulates the tax preparation business. New rules announced this year require preparers to pass a competency examination, hold a high-school diploma and participate in annual continuing education programs. In addition, any preparer who fails to file their own personal return can face a license suspension.

The suspended tax preparers come from around the state, with more than half from New York City.

CHEMICAL PLANTS

Govt fails to vet chemical plants for terror risk

WASHINGTON (AP) - Congressional investigators say the government has failed to inspect virtually all of the chemical facilities that it considers to be at high risk for a terror attack and has underestimated the threat to densely populated cities.

A year-long investigation by Republican staff on the Senate Homeland Security Committee paints a picture of inspection delay, government errors in risk assessment and industry loopholes in a $595 million terror prevention program. A copy of the report was obtained by The Associated Press.

The report said the Department of Homeland Security failed to conduct security inspections on 3,972 chemical facilities, or 99 percent of those deemed higher risk.

Roughly half of the higher-risk facilities are in 10 states: California, Texas, Ohio, Illinois, Pennsylvania, New York, North Carolina, Florida, Michigan and New Jersey.

FATAL CRASH

Man killed in 1-car crash in central New York

BRIDGEWATER, N.Y. (AP) - State police say a central New York man has died in a one-car crash in his rural hometown and the driver has been charged with drunken driving and manslaughter.

Troopers say 28-year-old Kevin Bennett II of Utica was driving a car around 8:15 p.m. Tuesday when he lost control, left the road and hit a ditch in the town of Bridgewater, in southern Oneida County.

Bennett's car overturned and 28-year-old Ryan O'Dell of Bridgewater was ejected from the vehicle before it came to rest in a field.

O'Dell was pronounced dead at the scene. Bennett was treated at St. Elizabeth's Medical Center in Utica for non-life-threatening injuries.

Bennett was charged with vehicular manslaughter, driving while intoxicated and various vehicle and traffic violations. He's being held in the county jail.

DRUG BUST

Police: 10 arrested in North Country heroin bust

MALONE, N.Y. (AP) - Authorities say they've arrested 10 people accused of selling and possessing heroin and other drugs in northern New York.

Officials in Franklin County tell local media that the arrests were made this week in the Malone area. Four other suspects are still being sought.

Village of Malone police, state troopers and members of the Franklin County border narcotics task force conducted raids Monday night and Tuesday. Officials say the suspects had been selling narcotics in communities near the Canadian border in northern Franklin County.

The drug bust is the latest of several over the past year in the North Country involving heroin trafficking.

SARANAC LAKE-LEAD

Adirondack village's drinking water cited for lead

SARANAC LAKE, N.Y. (AP) - State health officials say an Adirondack village's drinking water has too much lead.

The Adirondack Daily Enterprise reports the Department of Health sent a letter to Saranac Lake officials two weeks ago notifying them that the village is in violation for exceeding the allowable level for lead based on samples conducted earlier this year.

The agency says the state's action level for lead is 15 micrograms per liter. The tests showed the lead level for the village's drinking water was 34 micrograms per liter. The village has to notify the public within 60 days.

Village officials say they plan to notify water customers of the violation and outline a corrective action plan in time for the next billing cycle.

The village's wastewater treatment plant operator is in the process of resolving the problem.

CHURCHILL DOWNS-SARATOGA

Churchill Downs, Saratoga close to management deal

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. (AP) - Churchill Downs says it's finalizing a deal with the operators of the Saratoga Casino and Raceway to manage the upstate New York gambling facility and another in Colorado.

Churchill Downs announced jointly today with Saratoga Harness Racing that they are finalizing a five-year management contract for the Saratoga Springs gambling operation and the Saratoga Casino Black Hawk in Black Hawk, Colorado.

The deal would require regulatory approval in New York and Colorado.

The two companies also are negotiating a stock purchase in which Churchill Downs would buy 25 percent of economic and voting interests in Saratoga Harness.

Saratoga Harness and Churchill Downs have already proposed a full casino with table games near Albany. New York officials are expected to grant four casino licenses this fall.

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

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