Former health inspector Antonia Novello really loved shopping. By the looks of the report the Inspector General's office filed against her, the procurement of goods took up most of her time whilst in office, and according to the Times, which snuck a copy of the report, she often used state workers like foot soldiers to feed her habit. For example, she:
• Ordered a Medicaid fraud investigator in her department to drive her on trips to Macy’s and Saks Fifth Avenue in Manhattan.
• Liked to stop at the Woodbury Common Premium Outlets in Central Valley, New York, on the way between New York City and Albany.
• Used state workers to take her on excursions to three malls in the Albany area.
Also, one employee told investigators that “Novello’s fondness for shopping was so well known that employees in the office would give her sales fliers or coupons to encourage her to leave the office so that they would not have to work late,” according to the report. Ha!
Novello's lawyers deny that she's done anything wrong, but, well, this looks pretty bad. However, we think that they have an interesting legal avenue open to them, should they choose to explore it.
They could declare their client a shopaholic. Shopaholism has never been taken as seriously as alcoholism, or even workaholism, but it is, after all, every bit as destructive, as noted addiction memoir Confessions of a Shopaholic has proved. If they made a stirring argument that Novello was an incurable shopoholic, and her colleagues enabled her, the court of public opinion could turn in her favor, especially considering that Confessions will soon be playing on the big screen. They'll be right in tune with the zeitgeist! Novello legal team, we think you have a real shot with this, and you could use your power to make a real difference. Think of what this could do for chocoholism!