Former West Virginia Official Sentenced for Lying to Investigators About COVID Test Bills

Aldgra Fredly
By Aldgra Fredly
May 14, 2024Judiciary
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Former West Virginia Official Sentenced for Lying to Investigators About COVID Test Bills
A gavel in a file photo. (Demetrius Freeman/Pool/Getty Images)

A former West Virginia health official was given a probational sentence after lying to federal investigators about whether he checked on the verification of vendor bills charging the state for COVID-19 testing services.

Timothy Priddy, 49, of Buffalo, was sentenced to one year of probation on Monday for making a false statement. Mr. Priddy, who worked for the state’s Department of Health and Human Resources, pleaded guilty in January.

Investigators interviewed Mr. Priddy on Aug. 2, 2022, about invoices submitted by a vendor that had billed the State of West Virginia for over $34 million for COVID-19 testing and related services, according to a press release by the Department of Justice (DOJ).

The DOJ did not disclose the name of the vendor, only stating that it submitted the invoices under state programs providing COVID-19 testing to West Virginia schools and Emergency Medical Services providers.

Mr. Priddy told investigators that he only certified invoices that had been verified by staff working with the state’s COVID-19 testing program for K-12 students and faculty members.

But prosecutors found his explanation to be false, saying that Mr. Priddy had made no verification efforts to check the accuracy of the K-12 testing program invoices prior to approving them.

“The investigation revealed Mr. Priddy’s appalling failure to make any effort to assure that public funds were properly expended,” U.S. Attorney Will Thompson said in a statement.

Mr. Priddy repeated the false claim before a federal grand jury on Sept. 8, 2022, according to the department.

The DOJ stated that Mr. Priddy’s false statements have “made it difficult, if not impossible, for investigators to ascertain whether the vendor had provided the services for which it had been paid.”

The probe lasted for over two years and required the expenditure of “tremendous manpower and other resources,” according to the department.

However, the DOJ said that there was no evidence indicating that Mr. Priddy had colluded with the vendor or received financial benefits in exchange for approving the invoices.

“Significant questions remain regarding the legitimacy of the vendor’s invoices, but there is no evidence that Mr. Priddy lied to protect the vendor or further its business,” Mr. Thompson said.

“Instead, it appears that Mr. Priddy lied to hide his own dereliction of duty,” he added.

According to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), Mr. Priddy had previously served as deputy director at the West Virginia the Department of Health and Human Resources. His duties included reviewing and verifying the accuracy of certain invoices submitted by vendors supplying COVID-19 testing to the state.

“Shamelessly manipulating financial relief systems for personal gain, lying about it despite being given ample opportunity to tell the truth, and doing so while being in a position that is supposed to serve the best interests of the public is something the FBI will not stand for,” FBI Pittsburgh Special Agent in Charge Kevin Rojek stated.

From The Epoch Times

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