New York paid a man with no background in medical supplies who tweeted President Donald Trump $69 million for ventilators he never delivered, BuzzFeed News reports.
In March, Trump called for automotive companies to “START MAKING VENTILATORS, NOW!”
Yaron Oren-Pines, an electrical engineer in Silicon Valley who had 75 followers, responded with an offer.
“We can supply ICU Ventilators, invasive and noninvasive,” he wrote. “Have someone call me URGENT.”
Someone apparently called. Three days later, New York paid him $69 million for 1,450 ventilators, three times the standard average price per ventilator.
Not a single ventilator was ever delivered.
WH recommended the deal:
A state official told BuzzFeed that the state signed a contract with the engineer at the “direct recommendation” of the White House coronavirus task force.
The state terminated the contract weeks later and is now trying to recover the money.
“We are in discussions on a few remaining issues,” a spokesperson for the New York Office of General Services told the outlet.
Oren-Pines told the outlet that “neither me nor my company is providing any comment on this,” before hanging up.
State officials were desperate:
“We had no choice but to overturn every rock to find ventilators and other needed equipment,” Rich Azzopardi, a senior adviser to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, told BuzzFeed. “States were forced to fend for themselves to purchase lifesaving supplies to combat a global pandemic and with all modeling showing a more severe spread of this virus with more hospitalizations and more fatalities.”