“Something is rotten in the state of Denmark”, said the character of Marcellus in Shakespeare’s play Hamlet. And, sad to say, something is very rotten indeed at Nassau Community College these days.

                  In January of 2016, the position of program director at WHPC Radio – the on-campus radio station at Nassau Community College (NCC) – opened up and the procedure proscribed by the State University of New York (SUNY) for filling such an opening was followed. A search committee was formed; requirements were posted; applications were received; interviews were conducted; and a final decision was made.

                  My term as Vice Chairman of the NCC Board of Trustees had expired by this time, but I retained many good friends in the office of the president and among the senior administrators of the college and at WHPC, where I often hosted radio programs.

                  One of those friends – a fellow Harvard University graduate who was an employee at WHPC who did not seek the program director position - contacted me in early July of 2016 about the recent hiring of the new program director, Shawn Novatt. “The search was rigged,” he told me. 

                  Subsequent research discovered that the head of the Search Committee, Joy Cavalieri DeDonato, the Executive Director of the Nassau Community College Foundation, had been a high school friend and 1995 classmate of Novatt at Plainvew-Old Bethpage John F. Kennedy High School. Novatt’s future wife, Jaclyn Tetenbaum, was the assistant director of the school play in which both Cavalieri DeDonato and Novatt were castmates and Cavalieri DeDonato and Tetenbaum were in the school orchestra together.

                  Joy Cavalieri DeDonato never once revealed to her fellow Search Committee members that she and Novatt had been friends and classmates. At the in-person interview, she and Novatt acted like they had never met before.

                  This was a deliberate effort to hide their friendship from the other members of the Search Committee.

                  On their Facebook pages, Cavalieri DeDonato and Novatt and Tetenbaum had been communicating with each other going back to before the search had even been announced. But after Novatt was hired in late June of 2016, these Facebook messages were suddenly deleted.

                  However, screen shots of these messages were captured by suspicious WHPC employees who smelled a cover-up in the making. 

                    Both Cavalieri DeDonato and Novatt repeatedly denied having known one another prior to the job search when they were questioned about it after Novatt’s hiring.

                  Cavalieri DeDonato also helped Novatt get the position by eliminating from consideration two in-house candidates, each with more than 20 years of experience at WHPC, without even granting them an interview and then perfunctorily conducting the other finalist’s interview on the telephone from Chicago.

                  Meanwhile, my friend at WHPC was suddenly fired after working at the station for 10 years. The NCC administrator who supervised the station terminated him because he reported the fraudulent job search and hiring with irrefutable evidence to interim NCC President Thomas P. Dolan and other administrators. The cover-up was being exposed and they had to get rid of him. 

                    Other WHPC employees were also threatened with termination if they dared to speak about the scandal.

                    Nassau Community College violated Section 75-B of the New York State Civil Service laws(which prohibits retaliatory action by a public employer against whistleblowers)as well as SUNY’s Fraud and Irregularities Policies and NCC’s own Policy 6100 which are designed to protect whistleblowers.  
                    When I began asking questions of current NCC President Hubert Keen, he refused to meet with me. Other senior administrators suddenly claimed, “I know nothing about that.”  The Chair and Vice Chair of the NCC Board of Trustees also ran from the issue.

             I then contacted the SUNY Chancellor’s office in Albany and informed the SUNY deputy general counsel of the fraud and the NCC administration’s coordinated cover-up and intimidation of whistleblowers and she referred the matter to the SUNY Fraud Committee which sent two auditors down to NCC to investigate. 

                       The witnesses interviewed by the two SUNY auditors were all hand-picked by the very NCC administrators I was complaining about and the fired WHPC employee and I were not even included on the list of people to be interviewed.  The SUNY Fraud Committee subsequently issued a report which has been kept secret by NCC administrators and SUNY, but which is reportedly a total whitewash of the scandal. 
                       Two WHPC employees and I then went to the New York State Office of the Inspector General’s offices in Hauppauge. The Inspector General immediately launched an investigation and subpoenas were issued to NCC and SUNY. One of the investigators told me two weeks ago, “Our subpoenas are causing waves at Nassau Community College. And we are now going through a bird’s nest of paperwork from the college.”

                  Why would NCC and SUNY cover up a crooked job search? 

                  At the exact same time in 2016 that the WHPC job search was being conducted, the Middle States Commission on Higher Education issued a devastating preliminary accreditation review of Nassau Community College that found the college was not in compliance in 7 of 14 essential standards including “integrity, administration, institutional assessment, and leadership.” 
                  Had the Middle States commission discovered the dishonest WHPC job search and subsequent deception and retaliation against whistleblowers, it is possible that NCC could have lost its accreditation, fatally crippling the college and rendering the degrees of over 22,000 students worthless.
                     NCC has a culture of corruption. It became a $151,000-a-year landing spot for a failed GOP politician who lost an election; a place for milking the NCC Foundation for expense-paid “employee development” trips; a place with other similarly troubled job searches and covered-up misconduct; and a Board of Trustees that recently had featured the likes of restaurateur Harendra Singh, he of the Nassau County GOP scandal that brought down County Executive Ed Mangano and the Town of Oyster Bay leadership.

                       A spotlight on this blatant and pervasive corruption is long overdue. It is not too late for this situation to be resolved. Corrupted job searches can and should be reversed. Those involved at NCC and SUNY should be held accountable and face possible termination. A new job search for the program director should be conducted. The fired whistleblower should be made whole and he and the entire NCC community should receive a formal public apology from the college. 

                       Nassau Community College was once considered the finest community college in New York State and had earned a sterling national reputation. Admitting mistakes, punishing the wrongdoers,  thanking the whistleblowers, and trying not to repeat those mistakes is the first step towards repairing this once-excellent college.

John LeBoutillier was a Member of the U.S. House of Representatives from 1981-1983 (R-NY’s 6thDistrict) and a member of the NCC Board of Trustees from 2002-2010, serving as Vice Chairman of the Board from 2008-2010.


My latest column on a scandal:

Mr. President, Are You A Russia Asset?

    Mr. President, Are You A Russia Asset?

Arlene Bynon & John LeBoutillier analyze two bombshell stories that dropped this week that could change the context of the Mueller inquiry.

New York Timesrevealed the F.B.I opened an inquiry into whether President Trump was secretly working on behalf of Russia.

Washington Post reports Trump has prevented everyone, including his staff from knowing details of his conversations with Putin.

Also, we learned Trump's former campaign manager Paul Manafort gave polling data to a Russian GRU officer.

Is this the week the game changed in the Trump-Russia Investigation?



Arlene Bynon and John LeBoutillier look ahead: does Trump survive the multiple investigations facing him? What happens to the stock markets and American economy? Does Fox stick all the way with Trump or do they begin to separate themselves from him?


As a new chapter in American history unfolds with the start of another year, here are some predictions for the political scene in 2019:

  1. Donald J. Trump’s presidency will not survive 2019;
  2. The downward trajectory of every aspect of his tenure indicates we are headed for a spectacular political crash-and-burn — and fairly soon;