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Erie County Comptroller Stefan I. Mychajliw is asking State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli to investigate what he termed the “69 million NYS Ventilator Rip-Off.”
In a letter to the Genesee Sun, Mychajliw wrote, “Are you not surprised that the government may have flushed $69 million down the toilet for non-existent ventilators? I’m asking the NYS Comptroller to investigate immediately.”
“New York State was supposed to receive 1,450 ventilators at a cost of $47,656 each. That appears to be three times the normal price. The supposed supplier is Yaron Oren-Pines, a man with no apparent record of developing medical devices. This is extremely troubling. We are asking your office to conduct an investigation/audit into how this happened and how we can retrieve these critically important taxpayer dollars. At a time when local governments like ours are struggling financially, a loss of $69 million is devastating.,” Mychajliw wrote to DiNapoli.
Mychajliw continued in his letter to the State Comptroller:
“ Erie County was in sound fiscal shape prior to this pandemic. As a result of New York PAUSE and the shutdown of our economy, Erie County now stands to lose as much as $200 million in anticipated revenue. This far exceeds our annual discretionary budget. Additionally, the Erie County Clerk’s office, a reliable revenue generator for our county, remains closed. The $69 million wasted would have made a significant, positive impact on our finances. New York State cannot afford any additional losses at this time.
We understand the urgency for purchasing such equipment. It is reasonable to assume during this crisis that typical procurement rules would have slowed the acquisition process. That being said, to reportedly pay someone $69 million with no reliable track record, and not receive any product in return, is unconscionable. Unfortunately, unqualified vendors are taking advantage of governments and health care facilities desperate to treat those suffering from COVID-19.
There is no guarantee that New York State will recover the $69 million. In the meantime, we want to be certain a situation like this does not happen again. Our state and local governments face dire economic challenges. We are asking you to conduct an immediate review of this situation and provide a report so that government leaders in New York State can be assured that moving forward we are taking all precautions to protect the physical and financial well-being of our communities and taxpayers.”