Probe by U.S. attorney focuses on state officials

ALBANY – U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, who has launched probes into corruption in Albany, has sent a subpoena to the state Joint Commission on Public Ethics seeking information about allegations against public officials and lobbyists the agency has received since being created about two years ago.

Citing unnamed sources, the New York Post and Daily News both reported Wednesday afternoon that the Manhattan-based federal prosecutor wants information about probes JCOPE has conducted involving state officials, lawmakers and lobbyists.

The latest probe by Bharara comes just weeks after he sought – and received – a truckload of materials from an anti-corruption panel that Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo formed last year and shut down after cutting deals with lawmakers as part of the budget for a limited, pilot program for taxpayer-funded campaigns and tougher anti-bribery penalties. Bharara has raised questions about Cuomo eliminating the Moreland Commission at a time when the panel still had open investigations under way.

John Milgrim, a JCOPE spokesman, declined comment other than to say that his agency “routinely works with other law enforcement agencies on various cases.’

— News Albany Bureau’


Police say bridge-jumpers were homicide suspects

SUFFERN (AP) – A woman and her boyfriend moved in with her uncle, stole from his bank accounts and then suffocated him before jumping to their deaths off the George Washington Bridge, police said Wednesday.

Suffern Police Chief Clarke Osborn acknowledged that with all three principals dead, “We may never be able to answer some of the questions.” The killing of William Valenti, 70, of Suffern, was discovered Monday by a nephew, Osborn said. The killers, identified as Nickie Hunt, 40, and Gary Crockett, 41, had tried to delay the body’s discovery by saying in a note that Valenti had been taken to a hospital, the chief said. But Valenti was in his bedroom, dead from asphyxiation. Several hours later, a police dispatcher heard about the George Washington Bridge double suicide and mentioned it to detectives who were able to link the jumpers to the crime.


Couple killed by train ruled murder-suicide

ONEIDA (AP) – New York State police said Wednesday the deaths of a couple standing together on train tracks was a murder-suicide, but investigators can’t say when Earl Myatt Jr. decided to drive his beloved wife of 42 years to a railroad crossing and stand with her in front of a freight train.

Relatives have said Myatt became despondent after his wife, Mary, suffered a brain aneurism in January that left her with the mental capacity of a toddler.

Troopers said Earl Myatt called one of his sons and apologized two minutes before stepping with his wife onto tracks into the path of an oncoming CSX Railroad freight train on Sunday. Police said video showed them waiting on the tracks before they were hit and killed. A suicide note was found in Myatt’s car.


Troopers’ ‘speed week’ effort nails speeders

ALBANY (AP) – New York troopers report issuing 24,354 traffic tickets in their recent “speed week” crackdown and another 3,471 tickets in a separate “operation hang-up” program targeting drivers using hand-held phones, texting or using other electronics.

The April 17-24 focus on speeders produced 2,156 more tickets than a year earlier.

Stopped drivers included a Bronx man, 36, who state police said was driving at 130 mph and had 1.5 pounds of cocaine. Troopers reported issuing 2,315 tickets for talking on a hand-held phone while driving and 1,156 for texting while the vehicle was in motion in the five-day electonics crackdown April 10-15.