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JUDGE DISMISSES CASE AGAINST VACCO OVER FIRING

A federal judge has dismissed charges by nine former Medicaid fraud investigators who claimed state Attorney General Dennis Vacco ousted them for political reasons.

U.S. District Court Judge Charles Brieant found no evidence that Vacco and a deputy violated the investigators' rights, or that the pair had any involvement in their ouster. He also noted that five of the plaintiffs share Vacco's Republican party affiliation.

The case is one of several Vacco had faced from former staffers who claimed they were fired for political reasons after Vacco took office in 1995. None of the cases have been successful so far.

"This ratifies what we have said all long," said Vacco spokesman Joseph Mahoney. "These claims that there was a political litmus test in hiring is so much malicious malarky."

Brieant made the decision Monday in White Plains.

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