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Modified: May 14, 2020 10:09am
Created: May 13, 2020 1:07pm

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May 13, 2020

After receiving their bi-partisan request for an investigation, New York State Comptroller notifies County Comptroller Mychajliw and County Clerk Kearns he is reviewing the missing money


(ERIE COUNTY, NY) –Erie County Comptroller Stefan Mychajliw and County Clerk Michael Kearns announced today that New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli is reviewing a highly questionable state expenditure of $69 million for ventilators that were never delivered.  

In a bi-partisan quest for accountability, Clerk Kearns and Comptroller Mychajliw wrote directly to Comptroller DiNapoli on May 1st, 2020.  They asked his office to commence an immediate investigation into the payment and non-existent ventilators.  Comptroller DiNapoli’s Office responded in one week, May 8th, 2020, notifying Comptroller Mychajliw and Clerk Kearns that his office is reviewing the information surrounding the purchase. 

“Flushing $69 million down the toilet may not mean a lot to Andrew Cuomo.  It sure does for us in Erie County.  That is why Clerk Kearns and I requested an investigation.  Earlier this month we asked Comptroller DiNapoli to get to the bottom of this.  Why would the Cuomo administration send $69 million to a Silicon Valley engineer for ventilators without securing the product?  These are taxpayer dollars.  The people of Erie County and New York demand answers.  Even more concerning are public reports that the engineer selling the phantom ventilators apparently had no record of developing these devices,” said Comptroller Mychajliw.  

With Erie County facing severe fiscal shortfalls because of the loss of sales tax revenue and a declared deficit, $69 million would go a long way helping Erie County close anticipated budget gaps.  Final sales tax figures for the month of March show those revenues are down almost 20% compared to the same time last year.  Sales tax revenue is expected to decline even more in the months of April and May when the economy is shut down.

Multiple published reports state the supposed supplier reportedly told New York State he would produce 1,450 ventilators at a cost of $47,656 each.  This cost is considered three times the normal price of a ventilator according to medical professionals.

““I am grateful that Comptroller DiNapoli quickly responded to our request.  The $69 million wasted could have made a huge impact on Erie County finances.  I generate money for Erie County.  New York PAUSE means my office is missing out on significant revenues we typically provide to our government,” said Clerk Kearns.   “Now we’re hearing of a cut in state aid of potentially 20%.  This, while New York State wasted $69 million on a hasty purchase by a suspect engineer with no record of performing that work.  That is extremely troubling.”

State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli also stated any agreement between the purchaser and New York State was not approved by his office.  Because of Executive Orders, emergency purchases are no longer under review.