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AROUND THE STATE

Man who made bomb threat Sept. 11 faces year in jail

SYRACUSE (AP) -- A man will spend no more than a year in jail for calling in a bomb threat that led to the evacuation of several schools on the same morning terrorists attacked the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

Angel Lopez, 24, of Syracuse, could have faced up to four years in state prison for pleading guilty to a felony count of first-degree falsely reporting an incident before Onondaga County Judge William Walsh.

Defense attorney Bonnie Levy said Wednesday that Lopez had "mental health issues," and Walsh promised to sentence him to a year or less in county jail in exchange for his plea. Sentencing was set for Dec. 5.

Lopez admitted phoning a bomb threat on Sept. 11 to the county's 911 center from a pay phone at a park in Liverpool.

With authorities on high alert that day as a result of the terrorist attacks in New York City, Washington, D.C., and Pennsylvania, sheriff's deputies responded quickly and arrested Lopez when they found him sitting in the park reading a newspaper near the phone used in the threat.

Fiscal crisis may force state to tap environmental fund

ALBANY (AP) -- The $150 million Environmental Protection Fund that environmentalists have long considered safe from general state use is not sacrosanct, a spokeswoman for Gov. George E. Pataki said Thursday.

Though Pataki continues to discuss environmental projects that could be funded this year, he won't rule out saving or tapping the fund for a fiscal crisis, Pataki spokeswoman Suzanne Morris said. The state faces as much as $9 billion in lost revenue over the next 18 months because of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

"We will continue to make smart investments in the environment now and in the future, recognizing that we also face a multibillion budget gap in the coming years," she said Thursday.

Willie Janeway of the Nature Conservancy said "there is a very real threat" that the fund won't be used this fiscal year.

Since 1993, the fund, built on property transfer tax revenue, has spent $600 million to buy large tracts of wilderness for protection from development, assisted health programs, cleaned waterways, fostered recycling and preserved farmland.

Cuomo goes after Pataki on handling of state finances

ALBANY (AP) -- Democratic candidate for governor Andrew Cuomo said Thursday that following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, Republican Gov. George E. Pataki's management of state finances has been a failure.

"Now that we are most in need of a strong hand at the helm, he has failed badly," said the former federal housing secretary and elder son of former Gov. Mario M. Cuomo.

It was the first time since the Sept. 11 attacks that the younger Cuomo had directly attacked the governor.

It was the gambling package passed by the Legislature on Wednesday and related budget matters that sparked Cuomo's new criticism.

"The state budget he has approved relies on smoke and mirrors, an unfair distribution of state assistance and the pretense that we can gamble our way to a strong economy with jobs and profits for everyone," Cuomo said in a statement issued by his campaign.

There was no immediate comment from Pataki.

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