WASHINGTON (JTA) — New York State paid $69 million to an Israeli-American entrepreneur for ventilators he never delivered.
Last month, the state paid Yaron Oren-Pines $47,656 per ventilator for 1,450 ventilators, three times the normal asking price, BuzzFeed reported Wednesday.
The state suspended its usual checks of contractors as it scrambled to find ventilators to supply hospitals overwhelmed by the coronavirus pandemic.
Oren-Pines, a Silicon Valley-based electrical engineer, three days before the sale had tweeted his offer to sell ventilators in a reply to a tweet from President Donald Trump urging major American vehicle manufacturers to make the ventilators.
“Have someone call me URGENT,” Oren-Pines said.
Oren-Pines has no known capability or expertise in making ventilators. According to BuzzFeed, his social media shows expressions of support for Trump since at least 2015.
He has not provided the ventilators, and New York state is attempting to recover the money, BuzzFeed reported. Oren-Pines would not comment to the online news site.
An unnamed official for the New York state government said the recommendation to deal with Oren-Pines came directly from the White House coronavirus task force. A spokeswoman for Vice President Mike Pence, who heads the task force, denied any involvement in making the recommendation.