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The state inspector general's office has been investigating alleged corruption at the two-year-old Martin Luther King Institute for Non-Violence since August, spokesman Peter Ajemian confirmed Monday.

He refused to comment on a New York Post report that the probe concerns charges of bid-rigging and excessive payments to consultants. The institute, designed to help defuse racially charged situations in the non-violent manner espoused by the slain civil rights leader, was an outgrowth of a commission that had successfully pushed for a state holiday honoring King.

Thomas Cooper, its executive director, denied a Post claim that he permitted an employee involved with him in a private business to award her uncle a $25,000 telephone contract. He said the institute, which employs about 20 people, discovered several irregularities and hired an internal auditor to investigate them.

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