NY State Theater Institute Accused of Fraud

(4-21-10) From the New York Times..... An obscure upstate New York theater group that receives far more state aid than any of New York’s world-renowned cultural institutions is rife with corruption, mismanagement, nepotism and possibly illegal conduct, according to a scathing report released on Tuesday by the state inspector general’s office.

The 127-page report accuses Patricia Snyder, the longtime artistic director of the group, the New York State Theater Institute, of improperly using state money to enrich herself and her family, while the institute’s board and its chairman, David W. Morris, looked the other way or claimed ignorance. The report described nearly $500,000 in questionable expenses and a long list of improper perks, deception and potentially fraudulent practices — from extravagant international trips for the Snyder family to a Manhattan apartment that was leased by the institute but appears to have been reserved largely for the family’s use.

It also spent $38,317 on chauffeured limousines and thousands of dollars on lavish meals, many with no discernible business purpose, the report said. Ms. Snyder was also accused of arranging for the institute to buy the theatrical rights to “Miracle on 34th Street,” then quietly transferring them to herself and one of her sons. Each of them reaped $38,000 in royalties, according to the report.