Ex-Surgeon General Avoids “Chore” of Jail

Novello was accused of forcing state employees to do her chores

Former Surgeon General Antonia Novello has pleaded guilty to a felony to avoid prison time for forcing state employees to handle personal chores when she was New York's health commissioner.

Novello, 64, had been charged in a 20-count indictment with using state workers to run errands, take her on shopping sprees, and act as house servants.

The plea deal calls for 250 hours of community service at an Albany health clinic and $22,500 in restitution. Novello faced up to 12 years in prison if convicted on all charges.  The indictment said her misuse of the workers cost taxpayers $48,000.

She pleaded guilty to filing a false document involving a worker's duties.

Novello, originally from Puerto Rico, was accused of using state workers to chauffeur her on shopping trips and rearrange heavy furniture at her apartment while she was New York's top health official. She was surgeon general under President George H.W. Bush and state health commissioner under Gov. George Pataki.

The case echoes charges brought against another ex New York official.  Former state Controller Alan Hevesi pleaded guilty to charges that he had state employees chauffeur his wife around.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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