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AROUND THE STATE

> MANHATTAN

Wife of Patz's killer says he's mentally ill

NEW YORK (AP) -- The wife of the man who confessed to killing Etan Patz, a New York City boy, more than 30 years ago said Tuesday that her husband has been mentally ill for years.

Rosemary Hernandez told the Daily News through her attorney that Pedro Hernandez has "suffered from delusions."

Police said Hernandez told them he strangled Patz, 6, in lower Manhattan on May 25, 1979, while Etan was on his way to school.

Attorney Robert Gottlieb said Hernandez's wife wants the prosecutor to understand the severity of his mental illness.

The DA has yet to bring the case to a grand jury.

Gottlieb said police have repeatedly tried to question Rosemary Hernandez since her husband's arrest outside their Camden, N.J., home last month.

The lawyer said she fully cooperated when he was arrested and now feels harassed.

Police are working to corroborate Pedro Hernandez's claims. His lawyer said he's schizophrenic.

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> ALBANY

Seat belt crackdown logs 1,262 arrests

ALBANY (AP) -- State police in Central New York said Tuesday their seat belt enforcement campaign has resulted in more than 1,200 tickets for drivers and passengers failing to strap into their vehicles.

Troop D, based in Oneida, said the crackdown that ended Sunday produced 1,262 tickets for safety belts, 102 involving improper child restraints and 3,870 total traffic violations cited by troopers and deputies.

Maj. Rodney Campbell said buckling up provides the best chance of surviving crashes.

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> WHITE PLAINS

Controversial nominee on GOP primary ballot

WHITE PLAINS (AP) -- A 2010 Republican nominee for Congress from New York who was disowned by the party because he wrote an essay seen as racist is seeking the nomination again.

Jim Russell collected enough signatures to get on the ballot for the June 26 GOP primary. He faces Joe Carvin, the town supervisor of Rye, for the right to battle longtime Democratic incumbent Nita Lowey in the 17th District.

Rockland County GOP Chairman Vincent Reda said Tuesday the party has endorsed Carvin and is upset that Russell is on the ballot.

In September 2010, the party withdrew support from Russell after the disclosure of his 2001 article warning against racial mingling.

Russell said the article was misinterpreted. He didn't return a message Tuesday.

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> ALBANY

Groups push Cuomo to hike minimum wage

ALBANY (AP) -- In the face of a political roadblock in Albany, progressive groups continue their last-minute push to force an increase in the minimum wage, this time targeting Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, who they say can do it alone.

The groups cite comments by Yale and Fordham professors who argue Cuomo's Labor Department already has the power by law to raise the minimum. The groups, including the Strong Economy for All coalition and the National Employment Law Project, note Cuomo recently used his executive order to enact President Obama's health care program in New York, which avoided Senate Republican opposition.

Cuomo said he supports increasing the wage to $8.50 from the current $7.25 an hour, but New York has never bumped it up for all workers without the Legislature's consent.

The proposal by the Assembly's Democratic majority has strong support in public polls. But the Senate's Republican majority flatly opposes the measure as a "job killer."