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Pennsylvania attorney general accused of ties to poker firms

ERNIE PREATE JR., Pennsylvania's attorney general and a Republican candidate for governor, has been accused by a state crime commission of going easy on illegal video poker operators who had given him campaign contributions.

The independent legislative agency recommended that the Legislature consider appointing a special prosecutor to investigate. Some commission members said the Legislature should look into impeaching Mr. Preate, who took office in 1989.

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The commission said Preate sought contributions from video poker operators in 1987 to pay off a campaign debt and for his 1988 campaign for attorney general. Some operators were permitted to form shell companies that pleaded no contest to minor charges and escape more serious charges that could have cost them their businesses, the panel said.

Preate denied knowing that campaign contributions came from illegal video poker operators. He accused the commission of waging a vendetta. Bay State casinos?

Prelates of the Roman Catholic Church in Massachusetts have signed a statement opposing expanded gambling in the state, a position shared by Protestant church leaders and Attorney General Scott Harshbarger.

Gov. William Weld (R) has proposed floating casinos in three Massachusetts towns that want them and expanded electronic slot machines at the four horse and dog tracks.

``We oppose the proposed expansion of gambling in the commonwealth,'' the Massachusetts Catholic Conference said in the statement. The bishops acknowledge in the statement that Catholic churches use bingo and other games of chance to raise money. $10 for church-goers

MOST churches collect money during services. The Frederick Christian Fellowship church in Virginia gave it away.

The first 125 adults to attend the evangelical Christian church on April 10 were given $10 bills. All they had to do was sit through the 75-minute service.

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The church spent a few thousand dollars to advertise the giveaway, and the promotion appeared to pay off. About 300 people attended, 125 more than usual. ``We're trying to reach out to those who are not going to church,'' said Kim Kesecker, assistant director of ministries.

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