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AROUND THE STATE

Counterfeit checks part of large scam

ALBANY (AP) -- A scam in which targets are told they've won thousands of dollars from a state lottery drawing is widespread, State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli warns.

"This particular scam is especially shameful because it's occurring during the holiday season at a time when people can be particularly vulnerable," DiNapoli said. "People need to remember that what sounds too good to be true all too often is."

In the scam, consumers are told they won hundreds of thousands of dollars from a USA Mega lottery drawing in August. A company using the name Alpha Financial Services of Canada in Nova Scotia claims it has been assigned to inform winners and pay them off. Included in the letter is a counterfeit New York State check for thousands of dollars. The letter to consumers asks them to contact a claims agent to "activate" the check, allegedly to cover the recipient's tax liability for the prize. To activate the check, they have to send thousands of dollars of their own money to the agent.

New Yorkers who fear they are being targeted by scammers may call the comptroller's office at (888) OSC-4555.

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Man gets five months for illegal oysters

NEW YORK (AP) -- A Long Island man has been sentenced to five months in jail for mislabeling cartons of oysters believed to be from a river where shellfishing is banned.

The state Department of Environmental Conservation announced Kyle Frisina's sentence on Friday. He pleaded guilty Dec. 22 to four misdemeanors.

The DEC said Frisina was caught harvesting oysters in the Nissequogue River in Smithtown in June 2009. Officers then found 21 cartons of oysters he'd supplied to a shop. The agency said some cartons were labeled illegally, without required tags saying where the oysters came from.

The shop destroyed the oysters after tests showed high levels of coliform bacteria.

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Ousted DEC chief gets new state job

ALBANY (AP) -- The former head of New York's Department of Environmental Conservation has landed a new state government job with the help of a longtime colleague.

Former Democratic Assemblyman Pete Grannis, who was fired from Gov. David A. Paterson's administration in October, has been named to a $165,000-a-year job as first deputy comptroller in the office of Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli, another ex-Assemblyman and fellow Democrat.

DiNapoli won election in November after being appointed by the Legislature to replace the disgraced Alan Hevesi in 2007.

Grannis was ousted from the DEC after an agency memo critical of Paterson budget cuts was leaked.

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