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AROUND THE STATE

Suozzi attacks Spitzer on Medicaid claims

ALBANY (AP) -- State Attorney General Eliot L. Spitzer's announcement that investigations into Medicaid fraud last year recovered a record amount of money by his office is misleading, a political opponent said Wednesday.

Thomas R. Suozzi, the Nassau County executive battling Spitzer for the Democratic nomination for governor, said the vast majority of money recovered last year came from a federal lawsuit led by the Justice Department, not by Spitzer's office.

Spitzer spokesman Paul Larrabee said a prosecutor from the attorney general's office led the investigation. Spitzer aides had announced Tuesday that the office had recovered $274 million last year, compared with $63 million the previous year.

Suozzi said $171 million of last year's total came from a federal settlement.

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Ex-officer fails to win reduction in sentence

NEW YORK (AP) -- A former police officer convicted of lying in the broomstick torture of a Haitian immigrant returned to court Wednesday hoping to get out of prison early. Instead, an indignant judge questioned whether he had played a larger role in the notorious brutality case.

Appeals Court Judge Reena Raggi -- who became an appeals court judge since sentencing Charles Schwarz in 2002 to a five-year term -- rejected a defense request to reduce the sentence by more than a year. She also chastised Schwarz by suggesting he had gotten away with helping another patrolman attack Abner Louima in the bathroom of a police precinct.

Authorities had alleged that, after Louima's arrest in a nightclub brawl, Schwarz held the handcuffed prisoner down while Officer Justin Volpe sodomized him with a broken broomstick.

Volpe pleaded guilty to violating Louima's civil rights in the attack and is serving a 30-year sentence. Schwarz pleaded guilty to perjury in 2002.

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Turner work expected to sell for $20 million

NEW YORK (AP) -- An ethereal view of clouds over Venice by J.M.W. Turner is expected to sell for at least $20 million -- more than double the previous record for the artist -- at Christie's April 6 sale of old master paintings.

The St. Francis of Assisi Foundation, a nonprofit institution in New York that receives donations to support the missionary effort of the Capuchin order of friars, is selling the 1841 painting "Giudecca, La Donna della Salute and SanaGiorgio."

A private collector bought the painting in 1992 and donated it to the foundation, which did not display it publicly. Last December at Christie's in London, the work was exhibited for the first time in more than 20 years.

"It is an iconic painting by the artist," said Nicholas Hall, head of the old masters department at Christie's. "It's very unusual that you have a picture which comes on the market these days that is a genuine bona fide masterpiece."

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