Emily Rice Published

Former DHHR Official Pleads Guilty In COVID Test Fraud Case

Judges GavelWikimedia Commons

Timothy Priddy, 49, of Buffalo, pleaded guilty Monday in federal court to making a false statement. Priddy admitted that he lied to federal investigators about the verification of invoices for COVID-19 testing that he certified while an official with the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources (DHHR).

According to court documents and statements made in court, Priddy was interviewed by federal agents on Aug. 2, 2022 while he was the director of the DHHR’s Center for Threat Preparedness.

In his previous position as Deputy Director, his duties included reviewing and verifying the accuracy of certain invoices submitted to the DHHR by vendors supplying COVID-19 testing and mitigation services before certifying the invoices for payment.

The agents asked Priddy about invoices submitted by a particular vendor that had billed the state of West Virginia tens of millions of dollars for COVID-19 testing and related services.

One series of invoices of interest to the federal investigation related to a COVID-19 testing program for K-12 students, faculty and staff returning to school after the winter holiday break. 

Priddy certified the K-12 testing program invoices without making any effort to verify their accuracy. Priddy falsely told the agents that he certified the invoices only after two individuals working with the K-12 testing program verified the invoices involved. 

Priddy admitted that he knew that statement was false.

William Thompson, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of West Virginia, said this case is unique in COVID-19 fraud cases he is trying in that Priddy stood nothing to gain financially in committing his crimes.

“He just basically cost the state quite a bit of money by not doing his job and not following through on it,” Thompson said.

Priddy is scheduled to be sentenced on May 9, 2024, and faces a maximum penalty of five years in prison, three years of supervised release, and a $250,000 fine.

Chief United States District Judge Thomas E. Johnston presided over the hearing. Assistant United States Attorneys Joshua Hanks and Holly Wilson are prosecuting the case.