Former West Virginia official sentenced for making false statement


Date: May 13, 2024


Charleston, WV — Timothy Priddy of Buffalo, West Virginia, was sentenced today to one year of federal probation for making a false statement. Priddy admitted that he lied to federal investigators about the verification of invoices for COVID-19 testing that he certified for payment while an official with the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources (WVDHHR).

According to court documents and statements made in court, in the summer of 2021, a federal investigation was initiated to determine whether the State of West Virginia had been defrauded of federal funds allocated for COVID-19 testing and mitigation services. Investigators focused on one vendor that had submitted invoices approved by Priddy for payments exceeding $34,000,000. Priddy approved the invoices while deputy director of WVDHHR’s Center for Threat Preparedness. The vendor submitted the invoices under WVDHHR programs for providing COVID-19 testing services to West Virginia schools and Emergency Medical Services providers.

On August 2, 2022, federal agents interviewed Priddy, who by then was director of the Center for Threat Preparedness, at his WVDHHR office. Priddy explained in detail how he and WVDHHR staff would verify the invoices before approving them. Priddy’s explanation was false. Neither Priddy nor other WVDHHR staff ever verified the invoices before Priddy approved payment.

On September 8, 2022, Priddy testified before a federal grand jury and repeated his false claim of having personally verified or directing WVDHHR staff to verify the invoices prior to approving payment.

Priddy’s false statements made it difficult, if not impossible, for investigators to ascertain whether the vendor had provided the services for which it had been paid. The investigation continued for over two years, requiring the expenditure of tremendous manpower and other resources. Investigators found no evidence that Priddy colluded with the vendor or received financial or other personal benefits in exchange for approving the vendor’s invoices.

“The investigation revealed Mr. Priddy’s appalling failure to make any effort to assure that public funds were properly expended,” said United States Attorney Will Thompson. “Significant questions remain regarding the legitimacy of the vendor’s invoices, but there is no evidence that Mr. Priddy lied to protect the vendor or further its business. Instead, it appears that Mr. Priddy lied to hide his own dereliction of duty.”

Thompson made the announcement and commended the investigative work of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation (CI), and the West Virginia Legislature’s Commission on Special Investigations.

“Shamelessly manipulating financial relief systems for personal gain, lying about it despite being given ample opportunity to tell the truth, and doing so while being in a position that is supposed to serve the best interests of the public is something the FBI will not stand for,” said FBI Pittsburgh Special Agent in Charge Kevin Rojek. “The FBI and our partners stand firm in our resolve to root out financial fraud and abuse, no matter who the individual is or what position they may hold.”

Chief United States District Judge Thomas E. Johnston imposed the sentence. Assistant United States Attorneys Joshua Hanks, Holly Wilson and Kathleen Robeson and former Assistant United States Attorney Philip Wright prosecuted the case.

CI is the criminal investigative arm of the IRS, responsible for conducting financial crime investigations, including tax fraud, narcotics trafficking, money-laundering, public corruption, healthcare fraud, identity theft and more. CI special agents are the only federal law enforcement agents with investigative jurisdiction over violations of the Internal Revenue Code, obtaining a more than a 90 percent federal conviction rate. The agency has 20 field offices located across the U.S. and 12 attaché posts abroad.