Former Surgeon General Called a Shopaholic Tyrant

Novello probed for abuse of later office
By Jason Farago,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 27, 2009 6:40 AM CST
Former Surgeon General Called a Shopaholic Tyrant
Antonia Novello, formerly surgeon general, is accused of staggering abuses of power while serving as New York health commissioner.   (Wikimedia)

Antonia Novello, the nation's first female surgeon general, has been accused of years of abuse of power at a later job—turning her staff at New York's health department into her personal chauffeurs and assistants. As the New York Times writes, a report released today depicts Novello as a shopaholic tyrant, demanding that civil servants buy her groceries, water her houseplants, and drive her and her family across the state—racking up some $48,000 in state overtime along the way.

One claim alleges Novello bought a heavy Buddha statue, then ordered a health department worker to move it to her apartment—only to send him back days later to move it again. A Medicaid fraud investigator claims she made him drive her to Manhattan department stores, a 300 mile round-trip journey from Albany; while a guard says he drove her from Newark Airport to the capital on Christmas Day. New York's inspector general has referred the case to a district attorney, who may bring felony charges.
(More Antonia Novello stories.)

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