Court dates continue for two brothers who scammed a man out of a $5 million winning dollar lottery ticket. Some of the 174 State University of Oneanta students return to their dormitory after being displaced by a fire in a bedroom. Father of three children is sent to prison for scattered heroin that hospitalized his children. New York Museum will host a program on the once glorified militant who became a traitor, Benedict Arnold.
Senate sets Monday vote on $50.5B Sandy aid bill
WASHINGTON (AP) The Senate is set to vote Monday on a $50.5 billion emergency relief bill to help victims of Superstorm Sandy.
Northeast lawmakers from both parties hope to win Senate approval of the measure and send it to President Barack Obama, who has said he would sign it. The House passed it last week.
The lawmakers say the money is urgently needed to recover from one of the region's worst storms, especially in the hardest hit states of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut.
Fiscal conservatives say the bill would add to the nation's debt unless offsetting spending cuts are made elsewhere to pay for the Sandy aid.
Sandy pounded the East Coast and has been blamed for 140 deaths and billions of dollars in residential and business property damage.
NY Army Guard will test women in combat unit jobs
ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) A New York Army National Guard brigade will be among nine in the nation opening up jobs in combat units to women under a new Pentagon policy.
The state Division of Military and Naval Affairs says the Syracuse-based 27th Infantry Brigade Combat Team will take part in a test program.
The announcement Thursday came as Defense Secretary Leon Panetta announced the policy change.
The headquarters units the 2nd Squadron 101st Cavalry at Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station, the 1st Battalion 69th Infantry and the 1st Battalion 258th Field Artillery in New York City, and the 2nd Battalion 108th Infantry in Utica will be involved.
The positions include medics, intelligence analysts, human resources specialists, and staff officer jobs.
There are 1,657 women in the New York Army Guard.
No wage boost for dime-an-hour NY inmates
ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) The Cuomo administration is proposing no pay increase for state prison inmates whose wages start at 10 cents an hour and who haven't had a raise since 1993.
Most of New York's nearly 55,000 prisoners are required to work six hours a day, five days a week and earn about $1 a day.
Advocates say it's far too little for commissary items like toiletries, as well as postage stamps, prison fees, child support and leftover court fees that rise with inflation.
Corrections officials say inmates get basic amenities, they can use wages to buy preferred products, and about 2,100 prisoners average 62 cents an hour making Corcraft products like furniture and clothing.
Pay ranges up to $1.14 hourly for answering customer questions by phone for the Department of Motor Vehicles.
2 NY brothers in $5M lottery scam back in court
SYRACUSE, N.Y. (AP) Two brothers charged with scamming a man out of a $5 million winning lottery ticket sold at a Syracuse store owned by their parents are questioning some aspects of the prosecution's case.
The Post-Standard of Syracuse reports Andy and Nayel Ashkar were in a Syracuse court Thursday as their lawyers filed motions. They're challenging the local jurisdiction of the case and question whether the attempted grand larceny and conspiracy charges against the brothers had been filed too late.
The Ashkars are accused of claiming another man's $5 million scratch-off ticket, bought in 2006, when they presented it to state lottery officials in Schenectady last year.
The brothers' lawyers say the case should be prosecuted in Schenectady. They also say local prosecutors filed the charges too late.
NY college students head back to fire-damaged dorm
ONEONTA, N.Y. (AP) Most of the students displaced by a fire in their dormitory on the State University of Oneonta campus are being allowed to return to their rooms.
College officials say Matteson Hall will officially reopen at 10 a.m. Friday.
A fire in a bedroom on the third floor of the four-story dorm displaced 174 students and a resident director on Jan. 16. Everyone got out safely.
Fire officials say the blaze was started by an improperly used power strip.
The dorm's third floor will remain closed for repairs for the rest of the current term. The floor's 56 residents have been relocated to other dormitories.
The rest of the displaced students have been staying in other dorms or at a hotel in Oneonta.
NY man sent to prison in scattered heroin case
BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) A man whose three children were with him when he flung heroin around a motel room as police closed in has been sentenced to 2 1/2 years in prison.
The Buffalo News reports that 23-year-old Indaleccio Rodriguez-Escalara of Buffalo was sentenced Thursday in Erie County Court.
He pleaded guilty last month to endangering the welfare of a child and drug possession.
Authorities say that upon seeing police in his Tonawanda motel room in October, Rodriguez-Escalara scattered heroin in an apparent attempt to get rid of it. Some of it landed on his young children, who were treated at a hospital.
The arrest was the latest of nearly a dozen for marijuana and driving offenses.
In court Thursday, Rodriguez-Escalara said he wants to turn his life around.
NY museum to host program on Benedict Arnold
SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. (AP) Benedict Arnold is the subject of a program being hosted by an upstate New York museum located a few miles from where he earned some of his greatest military glory before turning traitor.
Revolutionary War historian Larry Arnold will focus on one of Benedict Arnold's early exploits during a talk being given 3 p.m. Saturday at the New York State Military Museum in downtown Saratoga Springs. The program is being sponsored by the museum and the Friends of the Saratoga Battlefield, where Larry Arnold is a seasonal ranger.
He'll talk about how Benedict Arnold helped lead the American raid that captured Fort Ticonderoga from the British in May 1775.
Two years later, Arnold was wounded during the Battle of Saratoga while leading a decisive charge that captured a British position.