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A surprise witness in the case against rap mogul Sean "Puffy" Combs is in custody in Maryland after fleeing last month and could be brought to New York to testify, a prosecutor said today.

The witness, Matthew "Scar" Allen, 29, and Combs allegedly argued Dec. 27, 1999, in Club New York, sparking gunfire as Combs and his entourage tried to leave the club.

Prosecutor Matthew Bogdanos said Allen could be brought to New York as early as Thursday if he waives an extradition hearing.

Bogdanos said Allen agreed last month to testify but fled before he could be called to the stand. New York City Police Detective Arthur Caddigan said Allen was found early today in Prince George's County.

Bogdanos had been expected to finish presenting evidence against Combs today but asked for permission to call Allen to testify after the defense begins presenting its case.

Combs, his bodyguard Anthony "Wolf" Jones and rapper Jamal "Shyne" Barrow are on trial in connection with the shooting that left at least three people wounded.

Syracuse hospital, awash
in debt, filing for bankruptcy

SYRACUSE (AP) -- Crouse Hospital planned to file for bankruptcy today while it seeks a way to reverse its deteriorating financial situation.

Officials said the hospital is saddled with $90 million in long-term debt and owes vendors more than $20 million. In the past two years, the hospital has lost more than $21 million.

As a result of the losses, banks have refused to work with the hospital to refinance its debts, which prompted the decision to seek protection in federal bankruptcy court while the hospital reorganizes its finances, said Edward Wenzke, the hospital's chief executive officer.

The filing will have no affect on patient care, or staffing levels, Wenzke said.~ Adler makes guilty plea
to mail fraud, tax evasion

WHITE PLAINS (AP) -- Paul Adler, a former Rockland County Democratic chairman who was a fund-raiser for Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, pleaded guilty Tuesday to mail fraud and tax evasion.

In exchange for the pleas, federal prosecutors agreed to recommend a prison sentence of 18 to 24 months when Adler is sentenced.

Adler, 42, a real estate broker, was party chairman from 1996 until he was arrested in September.

He admitted in court that he "offered to use my political contacts" to get a government job for a local planning board member in exchange for approval of a subdivision. The subdivision was never approved, and the board member did not get a government job.

Adler also admitted understating his income for 1996 and 1997 by more than $200,000.

Last year, Adler was the host at a fund-raiser for Clinton's Senate campaign. ~ Man sitting in Central Park
shot dead in robbery attempt

NEW YORK (AP) -- Two men were arrested today and a third was being questioned in the fatal shooting of a 25-year-old man who was sitting on a bench in Central Park with his girlfriend.

Police withheld the names of all three men and information on the charges against the two who were arrested.

The victim, Ismael Marzan, was sitting on a bench early Tuesday near the Harlem Meer, about 100 feet east of 110th Street and Fifth Avenue, when he got into an argument with three men who demanded his jacket and gold chain, police said.

He was shot once in the head and died at a hospital about two hours later. His girlfriend was not injured.

Marzan's death is the first Central Park homicide since July 22, 1999.

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