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Former WV health official gets year of probation for lying about COVID test invoices

A former West Virginia state health official was sentenced Monday to one year of probation for lying about whether or not he verified vendor invoices from a company claiming to have conducted COVID-19 tests for the state.

Timothy Priddy was sentenced in federal court for his guilty plea to making a false statement to investigators.

An indictment filed in October charged Priddy with lying to federal agents in August 2022 when he said he verified a vendor’s invoices for performing COVID-19 tests as part of a back-to-school program before approving them. Priddy knew his statements were false because he made no such verification efforts, according to prosecutors.

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Priddy, 49, of Buffalo, West Virginia, had faced up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

Priddy, who held various managerial positions with the state Bureau for Public Health’s Center for Threat Preparedness, left his job the day the indictment was announced.

Prosecutors said federal investigators were trying to determine whether one or more vendors providing COVID-19 tests and mitigation services to the state overbilled or otherwise received federal payments they shouldn’t have through the state Department of Health and Human Resources. Investigators focused on a vendor that submitted invoices approved by Priddy for payments exceeding $34 million.

Prosecutors said the vendor reported the results of about 49,000 COVID-19 tests between October 2020 and March 2022 but submitted invoices reflecting the cost of about 518,000 test kits. The indictment did not name the vendor but said the company was from out of state and provided test kits, laboratory analysis and held community testing events throughout West Virginia.

Vendors were required to report test results so officials would have accurate information about the number of COVID-19 infections and any geographical hot spots, the indictment said.

The West Virginia Health Department has said that a contract with the company ended in October 2022 and that the agency cooperated fully with federal investigators.

U.S. Attorney Will Thompson said significant questions remain concerning the legitimacy of the vendor’s invoices but there is no evidence that Priddy lied to protect the vendor or further its business.

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

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