In Albany holding a COVID briefing. Watch live: https://t.co/5vM0suYS5B
— Andrew Cuomo (@NYGovCuomo) December 28, 2020
The COVID-19 vaccine fraud investigation into a New York healthcare provider is taking its next step. State police are referring their criminal investigation into ParCare Community Health Network over to Attorney General Letitia James (D), said Governor Andrew Cuomo (D) in a press briefing on Monday. This comes just two days after a state official announced the organization was accused of fraudulently getting their hands on the new COVID-19 vaccine.
“The State Department of Health has been made aware of reports that Parcare Community Health Network, an Orange County provider, may have fraudulently obtained COVID-19 vaccine, transferred it to facilities in other parts of the state in violation of state guidelines and diverted it to members of the public – contrary to the state’s plan to administer it first to frontline healthcare workers, as well as nursing home residents and staffers,” said New York State Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker in a statement on Saturday. “We take this very seriously and DOH will be assisting State Police in a criminal investigation into this matter. Anyone found to have knowingly participated in this scheme will be held accountable to the fullest extent of the law.”
He elaborated during the press briefing on Monday, saying there were three “strikes”: 1) ParCare fraudulently filled out a form that said that they were a qualified health center; 2) they moved the vaccine “from one area to another area, which was inappropriate,” and 3) they gave the vaccine to people who were not on the priority list for recipients.
“We want to send a clear signal to the providers that if you violate the law on these vaccinations, we will find out, and you will be prosecuted,” Cuomo said.
You can watch the governor discuss this beginning at about 13:19 in the video above.
“We are actively cooperating with the State of New York’s inquiries,” said ParCare Community Health Network in a statement to Law&Crime. “Governor Cuomo himself stressed the importance of getting all the facts, and providing the facts to the state is exactly what we have done and will continue to do, including information regarding compliance with NYS DOH procedures for obtaining the vaccine and being approved by NYS DOH for distribution. As always, our priority continues to be the health and wellbeing of our fellow New Yorkers.”
Attorney General James confirmed her office was looking into this matter.
“My office is launching an investigation into ParCare over allegations that it wrongfully distributed and administered COVID-19 vaccines,” James said. “In order for the vaccine to be most effective in protecting our communities, we must all follow the same distribution plan. We will not tolerate any attempts to circumvent that process.”
This announcement happened on the same day that James’ office released a warning about possible COVID-19 vaccination scams. In a statement obtained by Law&Crime, the office warned that “the vaccine will not become widely available to the general public in New York for several more months.” Right now, the priority recipients are nursing home residents as well as staff who come into regular contact with these patients, and “high-risk medical workers.”
Jerry Lambe and Matt Naham contributed to this report.
[Image of New York Attorney Letitia James via Joshua Rashaad McFadden/Getty Images]
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