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Paterson's acting police chief retires in wake of scandal

ALBANY - As Gov. David A. Paterson tried again Tuesday to focus attention on the state budget crisis, another State Police retirement served as a reminder of the scandals that have dogged the governor for several weeks.

Pedro J. Perez, acting police superintendent, said Tuesday that he would retire Friday after 28 years on the force. Perez succeeded Harry J. Corbitt, who retired for a second time last Wednesday in the wake of accusations he misled officials about troopers' alleged interference in a domestic violence case involving a longtime Paterson aide.

The troopers, members of Paterson's security detail, contacted Perez before reaching out to the assault victim, according to sources familiar with the matter. Perez and Corbitt have denied wrongdoing.

Investigators from Attorney General Andrew Cuomo's office are scrutinizing the pair's action. Cuomo was asked to look into the domestic violence case on Feb. 25 by Paterson.

"My retirement is not premised on the current investigation by the attorney general, as I know my decisions were honest and rightly motivated," Perez said in a letter to the governor Tuesday. Perez said he was leaving because of disagreements with the troopers' union and other issues.

Three other members of the Paterson administration have resigned in less than two weeks. His top law enforcement adviser, Denise O'Donnell, left Feb. 25, saying Corbitt had misled her about troopers' actions. However, Corbitt said O'Donnell drew the wrong conclusions from information he provided to her.

News of the latest departure came as Paterson met separately with the State Senate's Republican minority and the Assembly's Democratic majority to discuss ways to close a projected $9.1-billion budget deficit. "I'm just trying to move this process; April 1 is not that far away," he told reporters, referring to the deadline for budget adoption.

Paterson's meeting with Senate Republicans lasted much longer than his session with Senate Democrats Monday night. Republican senators stood immediately as the governor entered the room and applauded, neither of which occurred at the meeting with Democrats, according to sources at the sessions.

Paterson downplayed the differences, saying he planned a longer talk to Senate Democrats in the coming days.

Meanwhile, a Marist College Poll, released Tuesday, found nearly seven in 10 voters want Paterson to finish his term, which expires on Jan. 1.Twenty-eight percent said he should resign.

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