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Guilty plea entered in false safety reports

NEW YORK (AP) -- An ailing environmental threat assessor has pleaded guilty to filing false reports that masked potential lead paint and asbestos hazards in New York City buildings.

Saverio Todaro entered the plea Friday in federal court in Manhattan.

The 68-year-old Todaro admitted his private inspection business submitted fictitious reports to federal and city officials between 2005 and 2008. The reports said several buildings were safe to occupy.

He said he sometimes never submitted dust samples to a lab. Other times, the inspections weren't even performed.

Todaro appeared in court with an oxygen tank and a walker. His wife says he suffers from emphysema.

He is free on $250,000 bond. He faces up to five years in prison.

No sentencing date was set.



Snake bite sends owner to hospital, stirs probe

FLORAL PARK (AP) -- Authorities say a Long Island home was a haven for unusual reptiles, including a rattlesnake that bit its owner and sent him to a hospital.

Robert Lantier was in fair condition Friday at a Bronx hospital.

The state Department of Environmental Conservation says officials found a crocodile monitor -- a type of large lizard -- and five venomous snakes Thursday from his Floral Park home after he was bitten on the hand.

Officials say the snakes included a cobra and vipers as well as the rattlesnake.

The DEC is investigating the circumstances of Lantier's ownership of the animals. They require a special license.

Messages left at possible phone numbers for him weren't immediately returned Friday.

The reptiles have been taken to a sanctuary.



Bloomberg concerned by crime rate increase

NEW YORK (AP) -- Murders, rapes, felony assaults and burglaries in New York City are up slightly this year compared to the same period last year, and Mayor Michael Bloomberg -- who is angling for more state aid from Albany -- suggested his police force might be stretched too thin.

Bloomberg, who usually dismisses short-term increases as little more than noise in the data, insisted the city's crime rate was "still very low" but said the increases in some categories bothered him.

"It is worrisome," Bloomberg said Friday.

The city recorded 103 murders so far this year, compared to 86 for the same period last year, or a 22 percent increase, according to the New York Police Department's CompStat program. Rape, felony assault and burglary also were up. Robbery was down. The increases were just about average when considering figures over the past several years. The city recorded 111 murders in 2008 by March 25 of that year. The figure was 85 in 2007, and 117 in 2006.

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