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Cloak And Dagger In Rochester, N.Y.

In Business This Week


It was a case of corporate espionage that might make a decent B-movie. Two spies hired by a major corporation botch a job breaking into the enemy's camp. But don't expect to see it in theaters owned by National Amusements, which owns 700 movie screens, as well as cable TV's Showtime and The Movie Channel. Why? National Amusements hired the spies.

On Nov. 15, two men appeared in the lobby of a Rochester (N. Y.) office building after work hours and talked their way into the offices of a law firm representing a community group opposed to the building of a National Amusements theater in a nearby suburb. Soon after, a custodian saw the men, Ralph Howe and Sean Cole, going through the firm's files. They were arrested the next day, and both have pleaded not guilty.

While National admits hiring the men, it denies authorizing any illegal activity. But it said in a press release: "If the opposition is significantly funded by one or more competing exhibitors . . . we are entitled to know."EDITED BY HARRIS COLLINGWOOD

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