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Probe: NY State Theatre director employed family

ALBANY - The longtime producing director of the New York State Theatre Institute violated state laws against nepotism by repeatedly hiring family at a cost of nearly $700,000, according to the state inspector general.

With her full control over hiring and little board oversight, Patricia Snyder selected herself and close relatives for more than 300 jobs with more than 90 percent of NYSTI productions, Inspector General Joseph Fisch said yesterday. Snyder also oversaw an additional $475,000 in questionable expenses, including more than $150,000 on rent for a Manhattan studio apartment, he said.

"A public authority is not a family business, nor a family employment agency," Fisch said.

Fisch also criticized Snyder for acquiring adaptation rights to "Miracle on 34th Street" on behalf of NYSTI, then transferring the rights to herself and her son William. They profited each time the play was staged, earning more than $38,000 each, the report said.

Attorney E. Stewart Jones Jr. said the report ignores Snyder's enormous contributions to NYSTI, the state and the arts community over three decades.

The institute was established in 1974 to provide theater and education to New York youth. It puts on several productions annually and had a $3.6 million budget last year. Snyder, 69, currently has a salary of $127,050. The report focused on 2004-2009.

Snyder herself told investigators she was unaware of a law against nepotism. "You know, you are getting into very dicey waters, artistically. I will tell you, the arts community will be up in arms with this line of questioning. We are talking about artists . . . Art is not like running an OGS [Office of General Services] office," she said.

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