Charleston, WV – A four-count federal indictment filed last week against a West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources supervisor has prompted a scathing public attack on Governor Jim Justice’s leadership by a member of the State Senate majority.
Putnam County Republican Senator Eric Tarr is asking, “when will West Virginia voters have enough?” with respect to the Governor, also a Republican.
The supervisor, Timothy J. Priddy, was charged with making false statements during an ongoing investigation. The indictment says investigators were working to determine if vendors providing COVID tests and related services were overbilling or fraudulently receiving payments from federal funds distributed through the DHHR.
According to the indictment, one company overbilled for as many as 500,000 COVID-19 test kits while reporting less than 50,000 test results during an 18-month period.
The indictment alleges Priddy was responsible for certifying these inaccuracies.
In his blistering press release, Tarr referred to last week’s indictment of the supervisor.
“Despite the challenges in many of the Governor’s agencies, West Virginia is poised for positive change with replacing Governor Jim Justice,” Tarr began.
Justice, in his second term, is term-limited from seeking re-election. He has announced he is a 2024 candidate for United States Senate.
“While recent indictments have shed light on areas that require a Governor’s leadership presence within our state agencies, I am confident that an attentive leader in the executive who prioritizes West Virginia over his appointed buddies/lenders can address these issues head-on and move forward,” the Senator continued.
The indictment alleged Priddy “held supervisory positions within the DHHR Bureau for Public Health Center for Threat Preparedness and was tasked with verifying and certifying vendor invoices before funds could be released for payment.”
WCHS-TV said records revealed that Priddy was promoted to be deputy director for the Center for Threat Preparedness and later served as a director of the CTP.
These managerial roles made Priddy the point of contact for lab services when verification was needed for vendors supplying COVID tests and related services, the indictment claims.
Investigators found other significant findings and spurred a grand jury investigation focused on wire fraud, theft and money laundering.
“This indictment of his (Justice’s) Director of the Center for Threat Preparedness was not the first sign of gross mismanagement of COVID dollars,” Tarr continued.
“As Senate Finance Chairman, I have been actively collaborating with the Finance Committee to assess the allocation and legality of COVID funds,” Tarr said. “Our collective efforts have already initiated investigations on Jim Justice’s management of these resources, that going forward will result in accountability.”
The Senator added, “Recognizing the need for reform, the Legislature has taken a proactive role in addressing the shortcomings of the Justice Administration’s DHHR.
“While Governor Justice initially vetoed our restructuring bill, we remained determined and successfully passed a bill in time such as we could override a veto. This demonstrates our commitment to improving government operations for the benefit of our most vulnerable citizens and taxpayers.”
Tarr went on, “We hear time and again from Governor Justice that he is an open book. Actions speak louder than words. “Transparency and accountability have been repeatedly promised. What consistently follows is a cascade of financial mismanagement and cover ups that betray the trust of the very people he is sworn to serve, Tarr said.
“Reports of misallocated funds, dubious contracts, and questionable procurement practices tarnished the state’s pandemic response efforts,” the Senator declared. Now, we have indictments.”
Tarr noted, “The pandemic has undoubtedly presented financial challenges, and mismanagement allegations have tarnished our state’s response efforts.
“However, it is crucial to remember that we are in the process of uncovering the truth. Indictments are just one step in a larger journey toward the justice West Virginia deserves and rectifying any mishandling of COVID funds.”
Tarr continued, “Let us not lose sight of our resilience as West Virginians. We have a history of overcoming adversity, and it is this strength and determination that will guide us toward a brighter future.
“As we demand accountability, transparency, and fiscal responsibility, we are committed to ensuring that the ineptitude of Jim Justice is not repeated.”
The Senator concluded, “Together, we will build a legacy in West Virginia of which we can all be proud.”
The DHHR said in a statement about the indictments that it has “cooperated fully with federal investigators over the past several months and will continue to do so.”