A health-care network with clinics in Boro Park, Bensonhurst and Williamsburg is under a criminal investigation for giving unauthorized COVID-19 vaccines, officials said Saturday.
ParCare Community Health Network “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,” state Health Commissioner Howard Zucker said in a news release.
The statement came hours after The Post questioned a state health department spokesman about ParCare giving the coveted inoculations.
The network’s actions appear to violate the state’s plan to administer the limited supply of vaccines first to frontline healthcare workers, along with nursing home residents and staffers, the statement said.
Currently, there isn’t enough vaccine for the groups that are supposed to get it first.
“The supply of COVID-19 vaccine remains limited and has not yet met demand among the groups prioritized for initial vaccination,” Dr. Jane Zucker, the city Health Department’s assistant commissioner for immunizations said Thursday.
The news site BoroPark24 reported Dec. 21 that ParCare claimed it had received 3,500 doses of the Moderna vaccine.
“Hundreds of patients were already vaccinated today, and people are still coming in,” Gary Schlesinger, the CEO and president of ParCare, told the news site.
Schlesinger also said he expected to have vaccinated 500 people in Boro Park that same day.
ParCare set up a website, parcarevaccine.com, where residents could register for the vaccine.
“You have to be on that list,” Schlesinger told BoroPark24, adding he expected to get more vaccines every day. “Once you are on the list, we have to vet to make sure that you are either a healthcare worker, are over 60, or have underlying conditions. We will not give the vaccine to people who are not eligible for this first batch of the shots.”
ParCare accepts Medicare, Medicaid, and most other insurance plans, the company said.
ParCare brazenly tweeted photos Monday showing boxes of the Moderna vaccine wrapped with ice packs and then in a refrigerator.
“ONE SMALL INJECTION CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE FOR THE ENTIRE COMMUNITY!” it tweeted.
Schlesinger is politically well-connected in the Orthodox Jewish community. He has cultivated ties to Mayor de Blasio, Attorney General Letitia James, Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez, and Brooklyn borough president and mayoral candidate Eric Adams, sources said.
A ParCare ad claimed “the FDA authorized” the network to receive “a minimal number of COVID-19 vaccines.”
“The vaccines will be made available on a first-come, first-serve (sic) basis,” the ad says.
It adds the vaccines will be given “Only for people in the following categories,” and lists: “Elderly, high risk, underlying conditions.”
One community member told The Post his father, in his 60s, received the vaccine at ParCare’s Williamsburg clinic.
“It’s known in the community you can get a vaccine if you want,” the resident said, adding “it’s a mystery” how the clinic obtained the supply.
“We take this very seriously and DOH will be assisting State Police in a criminal investigation into this matter. Anyone found to have knowingly participated in this scheme will be held accountable to the fullest extent of the law,” the state health commissioner said.
Schlesinger could not immediately be reached for comment.