Top Official Indicted For Recklessness With $34M Emergency Funds

West Virginia’s state health office manager has been indicted on federal accusations of authorizing more than $34 million in coronavirus pandemic relief payments to a private corporation without first ensuring that the vendor had delivered the goods and services promised in the contract.

Timothy Priddy is accused of lying to federal agents in August 2022 and in grand jury testimony the following month over the payments, according to an indictment filed on Tuesday in federal court in Charleston.

Priddy worked in several managerial capacities in the Center for Threat Preparedness at the state’s Bureau of Public Health. According to the indictment, he was appointed deputy director in March 2021 and director in January 2022.

As of October 17, 2023, Priddy is no longer affiliated with the DHHR Center for Threat Preparedness, according to a reply sent in response to an email left for him. It was unclear immediately if Priddy had a lawyer to speak to the charges against him.

According to the state’s top health agency, the federal investigation looked into whether the state’s COVID-19 testing and mitigation services vendors overcharged or otherwise improperly received payment from the federal government.

Between October 2020 and March 2022, the vendor allegedly reported the results of over 49,000 COVID-19 tests but filed invoices reflecting the cost of around 518,000 test kits. They said that Priddy certified at least 13 invoices for nearly $34 million, notwithstanding the disparity.

The indictment did not reveal the vendor’s identity but did claim that it was a national company that conducted community screenings and distributed test kits across West Virginia.

The vendor’s contract stipulated that it provide COVID-19 diagnostic testing via nose swab and promptly submit test findings. These kits were ordered for frequent emergency medical care personnel testing and distribution in venues where people travel to get tested for COVID-19, such as pharmacies and residential juvenile facilities.

According to the indictment, the state mandated that vendors provide test results so that authorities would have up-to-date information on the prevalence of COVID-19 infections and the locations of any outbreaks.