State news in brief

Leader of NXIVM appears in court

NEW YORK (AP) — The leader of a secretive group accused of coercing female followers into having sex and getting branded with his initials remains behind bars after a federal court appearance.

Keith Raniere responded “Yes, your honor” when the judge asked whether he understood the charges against him: sex trafficking and forced labor conspiracy.

Raniere was arrested in Mexico and brought to the United States on March 26. He did not enter a plea during the brief hearing Friday in Brooklyn. His attorney said no bail is currently being requested.

In March, federal authorities raided an upstate New York residence connected to Raniere‘s group, called NXIVM. The cult-like organization also ran programs in Mexico.

Onlookers in the courtroom included a former girlfriend of the defendant who left the group in 2009.

Hearing set in suit to keep killer in prison

ALBANY (AP) — A New York judge will consider whether to halt the prison release of a former radical who fatally shot two New York City police officers in 1971.

A hearing in a Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association’s lawsuit is scheduled for Friday afternoon in state Supreme Court in Albany. The officers’ union filed the suit on behalf of Diane Piagentini, widow of one of the slain officers, in an effort to keep Herman Bell in prison.

She and PBA President Pat Lynch plan to attend the hearing.

Bell was granted parole last month. He’s scheduled for release Tuesday from a maximum-security prison in upstate New York.

The 70-year-old Bell has served 44 years for his role in the fatal shootings of officers Waverly Jones and Joseph Piagentini at a Harlem housing development.

CNY police officer killed in car crash

WHITESBORO (AP) — A central New York police officer killed in a crash of his patrol vehicle is also being remembered as a former firefighter.

According to the Observer-Dispatch , Assistant Fire Chief George Massarotti says Whitesboro Officer Kevin Crossley was a person who “would do anything” to help others.

Crossley was on duty when his vehicle collided with a pickup truck that was making a turn at around 8 p.m. Wednesday.

Crossley had been on the village police force for seven years.

Officer injured in hit-and-run crash

PENFIELD (AP) — Authorities in upstate New York say an off-duty police officer has been injured in a hit-and-run.

WHAM-TV reports the crash happened around 9:10 p.m. Thursday on Route 441 in Penfield. The Monroe County Sheriff’s Office says the vehicle the officer was driving was bumped in the rear three times. When the officer got out to check the vehicle, the car behind him sped off and struck him.

The officer suffered injuries that are not life-threatening. Police say the three passengers in the officer’s vehicle were not hurt.

Authorities have not identified the officer.

Police are reviewing surveillance cameras in the area.

By Kerry Minor

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