More heads roll in Washington, as

Education, Energy aides step down

WASHINGTON - Theresa Shaw, head of the Education Department's student loan office since 2002, is stepping down amid growing criticism that the agency has been lax in overseeing the student-loan industry.

Shaw previously worked at student-loan giant Sallie Mae. Critics in Congress and student advocates have complained that the department has too many people with ties to the student-loan industry in charge of overseeing that industry.

* Johnnie Burton, head of the agency

overseeing the government's offshore-oil and gas-leasing program, which has been under fire from Congress over a royalty controversy, will leave the agency at the end of the month.

Burton has faced criticism in Congress over whether her agency has been aggressive enough to collect all the oil and gas royalties due to the government from leases in the Gulf of Mexico and to recover billions in lost royalties from flawed leases.

Chemical behind pet-food recall is found in feed of farmed fish

WASHINGTON - Farmed fish have been fed meal spiked with the same chemical that has been linked to the pet-food recall, but the contamination was probably too low to harm anyone who ate the fish, federal officials said yesterday.

The Canadian-made meal included what was purported to be wheat gluten, a protein source, imported from China. The material was actually wheat flour spiked by the chemical melamine and related, nitrogen-rich compounds to make it appear more protein-rich than it was, officials said.

After pigs and chickens, the farmed fish mark the third food animal given contaminated feed. The level of contamination is expected to be too low to pose any danger to human health, said Dr. David Acheson, the FDA's assistant commissioner for food protection.

It wasn't immediately clear if any of the farmed fish entered the food supply. However, Acheson said, at least one firm's fish were still too young and small to be sold.

Charged with assault, HBO chief blames it on booze, steps aside

The chairman and chief executive of HBO, Chris Albrecht, announced yesterday he was taking a leave of absence after being charged with assaulting a girlfriend in a Las Vegas parking lot Sunday. In an e-mail message to HBO employees,

Albrecht said that he was an alcoholic and that the incident, which he did not characterize, resulted from a lapse in his sobriety.

The chief operating officer of HBO, Bill Nelson, will assume Albrecht's duties temporarily. "We take these matters very seriously and will monitor the situation closely," Richard D. Parsons, the chairman and chief executive of Time Warner, which owns HBO, said.

On Monday, Las Vegas Metropolitan Police said the incident took place about 3 a.m. Sunday in the valet parking area of the MGM Grand Hotel, the site of a championship bout between Oscar De La Hoya and Floyd Mayweather Jr. HBO broadcast the fight.

Police have said the victim was

Albrecht's girlfriend, but they have not released her name.

Wildfire forces evacuations

in L.A.'s Griffith Park

LOS ANGELES - A wildfire yesterday roared across brush-covered hills in the city's sprawling Griffith Park, triggering evacuations of homes and of some of the city's most famous landmarks.

A wall of flames raced across ridges and jumped fire lines late in the evening as the fire drew closer to homes and the Griffith Observatory.

Hundreds of firefighters and five water-dropping helicopters rushed to Los Angeles' landmark park - a mix of wilderness, cultural venues, horse and hiking trails and recreational facilities set on more than 4,000 acres on the hills between Hollywood and the San Fernando Valley.

Rangers evacuated the park's Vermont Canyon area, which includes the Los Angeles Zoo, two golf facilities, a merry-go-round and a school, said Jane Kolb, a city Department of Recreation and Parks spokeswoman.

Authorities were investigating whether the fire broke out after a person discarded a cigarette at one of the park's golf courses, a law-enforcement official said on condition of anonymity. The person tried to put out the fire but was badly burned and was taken to Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center, the official said.

Winning wasn't enough for him

SUFFERN, N.Y. - A man who had been acquitted of charges that he groped a woman fired a sawed-off rifle at her during a court hearing Monday night over attorney's fees, authorities said. No one was injured but the shot narrowly missed the judge's head.

"I should have shot that b---- two years ago," Leo Lewis Jr. said as he stood up and pulled the trigger, according to a felony complaint issued yesterday. The complaint also said Lewis had confessed that he previously had thought about killing the woman. *

- Daily News wire services