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DRUG KINGPIN ACQUITTED IN '97 IS CONVICTED ON 3 CHARGES

A drug kingpin who won acquittal in federal court four years ago has been convicted in state court on drug charges that could send him to prison for three consecutive life terms.

"It's huge," Edward McQuat, senior assistant district attorney, said of the prosecution victory.

Officials say James "Yankee" Giles had run a drug ring in Syracuse since his federal acquittal in 1997.

The ring's downfall began Jan. 29, 2000, when officials -- acting on wiretap information -- intercepted a car bringing 2 kilograms of cocaine to Syracuse from New York City.

A State Supreme Court jury convicted Giles of first-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance and lesser charges in the seizure of those drugs.

The jurors also convicted him of first-degree criminal sale of a controlled substance for cocaine sales in October and November 1999.

The top penalty in all three incidents is 25 years to life in state prison, McQuat said.

RPI student diagnosed with case of meningitis

TROY (AP) -- A student at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute has been diagnosed with meningococcal meningitis, a potentially deadly infection.

College officials have advised students to get vaccinated against the illness.

The college sophomore was diagnosed with the infection, which is an inflammation of the brain and spinal cord membranes, said Dr. Robert Athanasiou, RPI medical director.

The student health center then notified 142 people, including members of the student's fraternity, and injected them with a strong antibiotic. The rest of the college's students were offered the vaccine Tuesday.

The infected student is responding well to treatment.

Green leads Democrats in mayoral race, poll finds

NEW YORK (AP) -- Public Advocate Mark Green leads the pack in this year's Democratic primary race for mayor, but the stock of New York Council Speaker Peter Vallone is rising, according to a poll released Wednesday.

The Marist Institute for Public Opinion poll found that if the primary were held today, Green would get 26 percent of the vote, compared with 18 percent for Vallone, 15 percent for Bronx Borough President Fernando Ferrer and 11 percent for city Comptroller Alan Hevesi.

A Marist poll in December found similar results for all the candidates other than Vallone. His support was just 10 percent in the earlier poll, and he was in last place among the four back then.

If the Rev. Al Sharpton entered the race, Green would get 22 percent of the vote, Vallone would score 15 percent, Sharpton 14 percent, Ferrer 13 percent and Hevesi 10 percent in the new poll.

The telephone poll of 455 registered Democrats in New York City has a margin of error of 5 percentage points.

Telemarketing registry to curb abuse filling up fast

ALBANY (AP) -- More than 500,000 people have asked to be put on the new registry of New Yorkers who do not want to be called at home by aggressive telemarketers, the state Consumer Protection Board said Wednesday.

Initially, the board had estimated that 500,000 people would be in the registry when it went into effect April 1. But that enrollment level was reached seven weeks early.

The Telemarketing and Consumer Fraud and Abuse Prevention Act will prohibit phone solicitations before 8 a.m. and after 9 p.m., require telemarketers to get to the point of their sales pitch early in the call, make it an offense for solicitors to intimidate or harass potential customers and require telemarketers to register every two years with the state.

Once a New Yorker signs up for the "Do Not Call" registry, solicitors have 30 days to cross them off their call lists or face penalties of $2,000 for each improper call.

New Yorkers can join the "Do Not Call" registry by calling the Consumer Protection Board's toll-free number, (800) 697-1220.

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