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AROUND THE STATE

Businessman admits fondling hotel maid

NEW YORK (AP) -- A prominent Egyptian businessman admitted Friday to kissing and groping a hotel housekeeper who didn't welcome his advances, pleading guilty as the woman sued him for $5 million.

Mahmoud Abdel Salam Omar pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor sexual abuse charge, acknowledging he kissed the woman on the lips and neck and fondled her after she brought tissues to his room at the posh Pierre hotel.

The 74-year-old chairman of state-run salt production firm El-Mex Salines Co. already has completed five days of community service in a soup kitchen, and his case will be closed without jail time or probation if he stays out of trouble for a year.

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Woman denies guilt in pharmacy massacre

CENTRAL ISLIP (AP) -- A woman whose husband is accused of gunning down four people in a pharmacy store holdup for painkillers pleaded not guilty Friday to charges she drove the getaway car, while funeral services were held for the youngest and oldest victims of the Father's Day massacre.

The morning after she was to have graduated from Bellport High School on Long Island, 17-year-old Jennifer Mejia's classmates wore caps and gowns in tribute at her funeral Mass.

Mejia was working as a clerk at Haven Drugs in Medford, L.I., on Sunday when David Laffer walked in shortly after 10 a.m., authorities said. Without announcing a robbery, he opened fire, killing Mejia, the pharmacist working behind the counter and two customers who unwittingly walked in on the carnage, authorities said.

According to police, Melinda Brady admitted planning the robbery with her husband but said she believed Laffer "would only threaten the pharmacist to steal drugs." Also Friday, a private service was held for Bryon Sheffield, 71, who was picking up a prescription for his ailing wife, Sheila, when he was killed.

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Police chief nabs armed man at school

SYRACUSE (AP) -- The Syracuse police chief was in the right place at the right time to catch a man armed with a knife who authorities said had entered an elementary school bathroom.

Police said Phillip Lane, 39, of Rochester tried to grab a 12-year-old girl walking to a middle school Thursday morning. The girl ran away and alerted a police officer.

Officials said Lane then went to a nearby elementary school and entered a girls' bathroom, where he spoke to two girls before being removed by three male teachers.

Lane bolted outside, but one of the teachers pursued him while calling police on his cell phone.

Chief Frank Fowler heard the chase on his police car radio and captured Lane, who's charged with burglary and endangering the welfare of a child.

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