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Leona Helmsley, MD — Why Now?
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Leona Helmsley, MD

The Orlando Sentinel provides a story of someone who took the “servant” in public servant, a bit too literally: Florida Hospital executive pleads guilty of defrauding New York workers

Florida Hospital executive Antonia Novello pleaded guilty today to forcing New York state employees to work overtime for her personal chores, filing false documents and costing taxpayers close to $50,000.

Novello, a former U.S. surgeon general hired in 2008 by Florida Hospital, entered the plea in Albany (N.Y.) County Court. She was New York’s health commissioner from 1999 to 2006.

She pleaded guilty to a felony in a deal with prosecutors to avoid prison time. Novello faced up to 12 years in prison if convicted on all charges.

Florida Hospital spokeswoman Sam O’Lenick said Novello, the vice president of Women’s and Children’s Health & Policy Affairs for Disney’s Children’s Hospital, remains on a leave of absence.

She was the Surgeon General under George HW Bush, and then hired by Governor George Pataki for the similar position in the state of New York. The complaints about her behavior started being filed with the NY Inspector General in 2001, but nothing was done until Pataki was replaced by a Democrat.


1 Jack K., the Grumpy Forester { 06.26.09 at 9:45 pm }

…OK, so this doesn’t make any sense (maybe I need to travel more). The Florida Hospital spokeswoman says “”We are very supportive of her right now…”, apparently after she answered a direct question from the judge about whether she intended to defraud the state by saying “”Yes, your honor.”

Unless someone is a blood relative or owes me a great deal of money, I personally find it very hard to be “very supportive” of that person if he or she intentionally entered into an effort to engage in fraud. I can see ‘forgiveness’ toward a fellow human being as a Christian gesture, but “very supportive” escapes me…

BTW, the Orlando Sentinel needs to work with its headline writers. It would appear that she defrauded the state of New York and its taxpayers, not the workers. If they feared for their jobs if they failed to obey her whims, there are other words that more appropriately apply….
.-= ´s last blog ..ZOMG!! Can You Feel The OUTRAGE!?! (Dana Milbank Edition) =-.

2 Bryan { 06.26.09 at 11:21 pm }

The only way she could have defrauded workers would have been to have denied them overtime after requiring they work the hours, and that would have occurred once under NY civil service rules and labor law. Those aren’t charged in a criminal court

It sounds like she was having them work for her on the taxpayers’ dime which is malfeasance and fraud every time it happened and those are Penal Law, i.e. criminal violations, and in line with the question and response before the court. You have to willingly admit your guilt in open court to plead guilty in New York, which is a safeguard to prevent your attorney from selling you out, and to ensure you understand the consequences of the plea.

As for the Florida Hospital position, I would want to see her employment contract, because I don’t see this as being anything but a loser for them. Even though NY didn’t pull her medical license, she pled guilty to a felony, and I was under the impression that that automatically cost you any professional licenses in Florida.

But she is a Republican, so there’s probably an exemption.

3 Reality Check — Why Now? { 07.25.09 at 3:19 pm }

[…] being something important to her appointment as Surgeon General. While she isn’t as svelte as Dr. Antonia Novello, the Surgeon General under GHW Bush, Dr. Benjamin also lacks Dr. Novello’s fraud […]