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The New York State Attorney General will investigate allegations that a Brooklyn-based health care provider fraudulently obtained and diverted coronavirus vaccines, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Monday — and warned that even recipients of an unsanctioned shot could face penalties.
Cuomo also said he planned to sign an executive order that would establish a $1 million fine for vaccine-related fraud and allow the revocation of state licenses from violators, in addition to potential criminal penalties.
He warned that anyone who knowingly got an illegal shot could also face prosecution.
“The vaccine is a valuable commodity,” Cuomo said during a virtual news conference in Albany.
“You have many people who want the vaccine and you will have fraud in the vaccine process. It’s almost an inevitable function of human nature and the marketplace.”
Cuomo said Saturday’s announcement that the New York State Police was investigating ParCare Community Health Network involved “the only case that we’re at liberty to speak about now” and the only one with “possible criminal activity, at this point.”
James “is going to take it on and make it a priority,” he said.
“We will not tolerate any fraud in the vaccination process,” Cuomo said.
“Anyone who engages in any fraud is going to be held accountable.”
ParCare has acknowledged receiving 2,300 doses of the Moderna vaccine that were ordered by the state Department of Health and shipped to ParCare’s clinic in Orange County.
ParCare also operates five other clinics in Brooklyn and Manhattan, including one in Williamsburg where people were inoculated last week in apparent violation of guidelines that called for the first wave of vaccines to go to front-line health care workers and residents of long-term care facilities.
On Saturday, state Health Commissioner Howard Zucker has said the company “may have fraudulently obtained COVID-19 vaccine, transferred it to facilities in other parts of the state in violation of state guidelines and diverted it to members of the public.”
On Sunday, ParCare said it had only administered 869 doses and “proactively returned” the bulk of its shipment to the state amid the ongoing probe.
The company also said it “provided the documentation regarding the proper receipt of the vaccines to the NYS DOH” and “at all times exerted best efforts to comply with all NYS DOH requirements.”
A company spokesperson didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment regarding Cuomo’s remarks.
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