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U.S. Asks Whether Leniency for Rabbi Had Link to a Pataki Backer

Federal prosecutors are examining whether state officials gave lenient treatment to a Hasidic rabbi imprisoned in a widely publicized kidnapping case after appeals were made on his behalf by a fund-raiser for the campaign of Gov. George E. Pataki, officials and others involved in the inquiry say.

State records show that prison officials moved the rabbi, Shlomo Helbrans, from prison into a work-release program even though he was ineligible for the transfer because Federal immigration officials wanted to deport him. The transfer in June 1996 was rescinded after a Federal prosecutor who had brought charges against Rabbi Helbrans protested to state prison officials.



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