A Brooklyn-based health network faces a state police probe for allegedly improperly obtaining COVID-19 vaccines and distributing them to the public, authorities told The Daily News Saturday.
And New York State Health Commissioner Dr Howard Zucker vowed on Saturday that anyone found to have knowingly participated in this scheme will be held accountable to the fullest extent of the law.
"The State Department of Health has been made aware of reports that ParcareCommunity Health Network, an Orange County provider, 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 – contrary to the state's plan to administer it first to frontline healthcare workers, as well as nursing home residents and staffers.
"We take this very seriously and DOH will be assisting State Police in a criminal investigation into this matter," Dr Zucker said.
The Daily News reported that ParCare, a well-known network of six clinics that serves Orthodox Jewish neighborhoods in Brooklyn and upstate Orange County, openly bragged that it had 3,500 doses of the Moderna One of the first recipients of the vaccine was Mark Appel, a well-known non-profit leader who once served on the board of the city Health and Hospitals Corporation.
Appel sees nothing wrong with getting the shot.
“I don’t feel bad that I got it,” Appel told the News. “I’m out there every day helping people on the front lines. If (ParCare) got the vaccines, God bless ‘em.”
The network vowed to vaccinate anyone over age 60 who sign up online on a “first come first served basis” — a blatant violation of state rules mandating health care workers and nursing home patients get the shots first.
“Hundreds of patients were already vaccinated, and people are still coming in,” Gary Schlesinger, ParCare CEO, told
BoroPark24.com, a local news outlet in the Brooklyn neighborhood last week. “You (just) need to be on the list.”
Schlesinger, a prominent health-care leader in the Hasidic Jewish community, could not immediately be reached for comment during the Jewish Sabbath.