New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo said on Monday that the New York State Police will refer the ParCare Community Health Network to the New York Attorney General’s office for allegedly misappropriating Moderna vaccine.
State Health Commissioner Howard Zucker said a healthcare provider in Orange County obtained the vaccine under false pretenses, took it to Brooklyn, and gave it to people who were not on the priority list. While ParCare is the only organization currently undergoing a criminal investigation, the governor said that vaccine recipients who violated the state distribution plan may also face charges.
“When you have a valuable commodity to be dispensed with, you should expect fraud,” said Cuomo.
Under New York’s current ‘1A’ distribution plan, only medical, first-responder, and elderly care staff are permitted to receive the coronavirus vaccine. The other groups will follow in the next rounds.
“We are taking this matter very seriously,” Zucker said in a statement last week. “Anyone found knowingly participated in this scheme will be held accountable to the maximum extent permitted by law.”
New York State Police and other investigators were at the ParCare site in Borough Park Saturday night.
A ParCare spokesperson told ABC News on Sunday evening that it is cooperating with the state’s investigation and will return its unused vials. ParCare has received 2,300 doses of the Moderna vaccine, and 869 doses have already been given, according to the spokesperson.
“ParCare followed all procedures of the New York State Department of Health to obtain the Moderna vaccine and was approved by the New York State Department of Health for distribution and by the CDC as the site of the network. As a result, we received the vaccines correctly and provided the documents regarding the appropriate receipt of vaccines to The New York Department of Health, “the spokesman told ABC News.
Regarding patients who received the first dose, ParCare said it “will work with the state to ensure that the second dose is offered to our patients.”
– Evan Pereira, Sasha Bezinik, and Aaron Katersky of ABC News contributed to this report.