Cops and Courts

Former DHHR threat preparedness director indicted for approving millions in COVID tests without verification

A former official within the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources (DHHR) is facing federal charges after investigators say he lied to federal agents and before a federal grand jury about signing off on millions of dollars in COVID-19 testing supplies that were not properly accounted for.

According to a 16-page federal indictment, Timothy J. Priddy, who held various supervisory positions with the DHHR Bureau for Public Health Center for Threat Preparedness (CTP) during the pandemic, was promoted to deputy director of the CTP in March 2021 and ultimately was named director in January 2022.

Priddy was tasked with verifying and certifying vendor invoices before funds could be released for payment.

In or around June 2021, federal and state authorities began an investigation to determine whether certain vendors had provided the COVID-19 services for which they invoiced the state. Court documents say part of that investigation surrounded invoices submitted by an unnamed company totaling $44,775,308 – the cost of around 518,419 COVID-19 test kits.

However, investigators learned that only around 48,661 test results from that company were reported between October 2020 and March 2022. According to the documents, vendors contracted to perform COVID-19 testing were required to report test results for accurate, up-to-date information regarding the number of active COVID infections.

Despite the large discrepancy between tests performed and tests invoiced – a difference of around 469,758 tests – the indictment says Priddy had personally certified at least 13 of the invoices in question between November 2020 and February 2022, which totaled approximately $34,174,797.

Court documents say the problem is Priddy certified those invoices without first verifying that the invoiced goods and services were, in fact, provided.

It is further alleged that Priddy also created receiving reports for nine of the invoices on which he falsely stated “all deliveries have been confirmed with the receiving facilities,” or “[an official] from the Office of Emergency Medical Services confirms materials were delivered to jobsites.”

The first two counts of the four-count indictment allege Priddy made false statements to a special agent with the FBI and a United States Postal inspector that he certified invoices related to COVID–19 testing for state EMS agencies, hospice agencies, youth residential services, “steady state” facilities and a back-to-school testing program “only after he or one of his staff had verified the invoices.”

Federal authorities allege Priddy knew his statements were false “because he had undertaken no effort to verify these invoices,” the indictment says.

The third and fourth counts of the indictment allege Priddy made false statements to a federal grand jury investigating whether the unnamed company had committed wire fraud, money laundering and theft from a federal program. The line of questioning to Priddy involved how his department verified EMS agencies and the back-to-school program received their tests.

He told the grand jury staff at the CTP would call a sampling of about 12 EMS agencies to be sure tests and items were being sent and received. He also testified that he confirmed the tests sent to schools with an official with West Virginia schools.

During the investigation, Priddy’s declarations during grand jury testimony were allegedly found to be false. The indictment states he knew the statements were false when he made them because neither he nor any of his staff sampled EMS agencies to verify the receipt of testing kits and never sought confirmation the tests were received by the back-to-school program.

As of Oct. 20, Priddy’s name has been removed as director on the West Virginia CTP website – Donnie Haynes is listed as interim director.

The Dominion Post reached out to DHHR Office of Communications for comment on the allegations against Priddy. In their response, it is indicated that the unnamed company the indictment said was being investigated is Maverick Scientific.

“The West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources (DHHR) has cooperated fully with federal investigators over the past several months and will continue to do so. DHHR’s contract with Maverick for diagnostic testing services ended in October 2022.

“Tim Priddy is suspended from DHHR. Donnie Haynes is the interim director of the Center for Threat Preparedness. DHHR takes extremely seriously its responsibility as a steward of taxpayer dollars and is committed to upholding the highest standards of integrity and accountability.”