ALBANY - Calling it ?a sad day for New Yorkers,? Governor George Pataki (R-NY) says he is appointing a former federal prosecutor David Kelly to determine if the case against embattled state Comptroller Alan Hevesi warrants removal from office.

Hevesi is in the battle of his political life over accusations by the state Ethics Commission that he violated state law by failing to reimburse NY for the use of a staffer to drive his wife from 2003 to mid-2006. Democratic Attorney General Eliot Spitzer, the front-runner in the governor's race, is also investigating Hevesi and on Thursday withdrew his political endorsement.

In his newa conference Friday, Pataki called the ethics report an "extraordinary finding." Pataki has asked David Kelly to conduct a review of the ethics report's findings and report back to him whether a strong legal case for removal exists. Pataki says he hopes that can be done within a week.