In the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) used his emergency powers to spend more than $1 billion in taxpayer funds to acquire critical medical equipment such as ventilators and PPE in the fight against the vrus.
What are the details?
The New York Post reported Tuesday that Cuomo’s Department of Health was “duped” into buying millions of dollars worth of medical supplies from Chinese firms “and has been forced to hire a law firm in Hong Kong in a bid to recoup the taxpayer money it lost.”
The newspaper, which first reported that Cuomo’s administration intentionally underreported nursing home deaths during the pandemic, has now reported that the DOH hired the Hong Kong firm Gall Solicitors for $125,000 in an effort to get money back from overseas suppliers.
A Cuomo spokesperson confirmed the contract, saying they hired the firm in late December “to help us pursue recovery of state funds there, related to procurement.”
Gall is reportedly trying to get back a $12.5 million deposit Cuomo’s administration delivered to a company called Please Me LLC, which had promised 1,000 ventilators to the state despite never selling the devices. The supplier never delivered a single ventilator.
The Post pointed to a New York Times article from December that showed Please Me LLC is a company “whose products include not just small medical devices but also sex toys, children’s books and a mask for dry eyes.”
The owner of the company, Eddie Sitt, defended his firm to The Times, claiming that medical products were actually his main business. New York officials claim the company asked to substitute the ventilators requested for a different model after the deposit was already made but the state refused. Sitt claims the ventilators were, in fact, shipped to New York but remain in storage amid the dispute.