N.Y. Fires Agency Head

For Calling People 'Stupid'

NEW YORK -- The city fired the head of its customer service office after he admitted calling New Yorkers "whining" and "stupid" in an essay on the Internet.

"I take painkillers, sleep a lot and think about killing every citizen and employee of New York City every minute I'm awake," Fletcher Vredenburgh, the former director of the Mayor's Action Center, wrote in an essay on the "FightLikeApes" Web site.

Vredenburgh told the New York Post for yesterday's editions that he had written the unsigned essay for friends soon after he was appointed as head of the center, which handles New Yorkers' complaints about City Hall.

Vredenburgh, 36, was hired in the summer of 2001. Vredenburgh said in the essay that he was responsible for handling complaints from "griping, often whining, often stupid New Yorkers."

Man Suspected of Link

To Al Qaeda Is Freed

DETROIT -- A federal magistrate yesterday dismissed a Social Security fraud case against a Yemeni man who investigators say could be tied to al Qaeda.

U.S. Magistrate Steven Pepe cited a lack of evidence against Mohamed Nasser Alajji, who was later released from custody.

Alajji, 31, a self-employed truck driver who has lived in the United States since 1995, was accused of fraud for not revealing he had two Social Security cards, each with a different spelling of his name.

He was arrested Dec. 19 after New York police received a call from a man identified as Alajji's former brother-in-law. That man said Alajji was a terrorist linked to al Qaeda and "was getting ready to bomb you guys."

A raid of Alajji's Detroit home turned up thousands of anti-American tapes and documents, prosecutors said.

Alajji's attorney, Nabih Ayad, said his client is not a terrorist and is innocent of the Social Security card accusations. He said that Alajji did not speak English at the time he supposedly applied for the second number and that records show he never used it to obtain benefits.

* CHICAGO -- A sexual misconduct allegation against Cardinal Edward Egan of New York dating to 1969 is unfounded, prosecutors in Illinois said yesterday. The Cook County state's attorney's office investigated "and found no credible evidence on which to proceed," spokesman John Gorman said. In August, Illinois authorities notified the New York archdiocese that a man said Egan sexually abused him when he was a boy in Chicago in 1969, archdiocese spokesman Joseph Zwilling said. The same person accused more than 20 "high-profile persons," including national political figures, Zwilling said.

* NEW YORK -- Former police officer Charles Schwarz began serving a five-year sentence for his role in the 1997 assault on Haitian immigrant Abner Louima. Schwarz checked in at the Federal Prison Camp in Duluth, Minn., said an official at the minimum-security facility.

-- From News Services