The state Supreme Court yesterday handed Ernest D. Preate Jr., the former Pennsylvania Attorney General, a five-year suspension from the practice of law, and made it retroactive to Aug. 16, 1995.

The ruling, announced in a one-paragraph per curiam order, means that Preate, who pleaded guilty to federal mail fraud charges in connection with improper campaign contributions, may resume his law practice on Aug. 16, 2000, if the Supreme Court agrees to readmit him to the bar.

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