Walter Pacheco, Orlando Sentinel, January 27, 2009
Antonia Coello Novello, the former Surgeon General of the United States (1990–1993), is accused of ordering state employees to take her on personal shopping sprees, water her house plants, buy her groceries and move her furniture, among other accusations, during her 7-year tenure as New York’s Health Commissioner, according to a report released today by the Inspector General of New York.
Novello, 64, . . . was the first woman and first Hispanic to serve as U.S. surgeon general. Novello, born in Fajardo, Puerto Rico, was often praised by Democrats and Republicans for her talent and promise to bring emphasis to pediatric care.
The investigation shows that the 2,540 hours of overtime generated by her staff cost Albany taxpayers nearly $50,000. A spokeswoman at Florida Hospital said she would comment to the Orlando Sentinel later today. High-profile criminal defense attorney E. Stewart Jones, in Albany, NY, is representing Novello.
According to the investigation, one of Novello’s guards, who also picked up her dry cleaning and stored her car at his home, complained that the former health commissioner “would yell at him in public if he mishandled her packages.”
The report shows security guards transported her mother to the Newark, NJ airport to catch flights to Puerto Rico; a Health Department investigator in New York City was used as a driver, taking Novello on shopping sprees to Macy’s and Saks Fifth Avenue.
An Albany guard was also ordered to work Christmas Day in 2006–after her term as health commissioner had ended–to drive Novello to Newark. He was then pressured to charge vacation time and use his own car to pick her up.