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Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s administration got swindled trying to buy millions of dollars of Chinese medical gear amid the coronavirus crisis — and has been forced to hire a law firm in Hong Kong in a bid to recoup the taxpayer money it lost, The Post has learned.

The state Department of Health signed a $125,000 contract with the overseas lawyers, Gall Solicitors late last year, according to records posted online by the state Comptroller’s Office.

The one-year pact was exempted from a “pre-audit” by Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli under pandemic-related emergency powers Cuomo granted himself on March 7 — and which some lawmakers now want to revoke due to the spiraling controversy over New York’s nursing home deaths.

Officials declined to provide The Post with a copy of the legal retainer contract or details of the underlying dispute.

But a Cuomo spokesman acknowledged that the DOH hired Gall on Dec. 24 “to help us pursue recovery of state funds there, related to procurement.”

“The contract was just approved and papers will be filed soon, and we’ll reserve further comment until then,” spokesman Rich Azzopardi said.

In his memoir, “American Crisis: Leadership Lessons from the COVID-19 Pandemic,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo supported his administration’s faulty ventilator deals, claiming “we had few alternatives.”Crown via AP

The DOH is mounting the overseas legal action despite the fact that it hired the white-shoe law firm of Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom to vet its purchases of coronavirus-related medical equipment and supplies.

That agreement was struck on March 1 and could cost taxpayers as much as $1.25 million, according to the comptroller’s website.

“Skadden was retained to provide much-needed expertise to ensure that the lifesaving equipment the State procured met ‎FDA requirements before the equipment was distributed to hospitals,” DOH spokesman Gary Holmes said.

The state rushed into more than $1 billion worth of deals for medical supplies and equipment last year — only to later seek partial refunds amounting to about one-third of the total, the New York Times reported in mid-December, shortly before the DOH hired Gall.

The money at issue included a $12.5 million deposit for 1,000 ventilators from Please Me LLC, a company that had never before sold the high-tech devices but whose product line included sex toys, children’s books and other items, The Times said.

The state also paid a Silicon Valley engineer, Yaron Oren-Pines, $69.1 million in March for 1,450 ventilators — three times the going rate — shortly after he tweeted, “We can supply ICU Ventilators, invasive and invasive,” but never received a single unit, Buzzfeed News reported in April.

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Majority of New Yorkers think Cuomo botched COVID-19 in nursing homes: poll A majority of New Yorkers believe Gov. Andrew Cuomo mismanaged...

The state recovered $59 million but was still pursuing the remaining $10 million, Buzzfeed reported in October.

In his best-selling memoir, “American Crisis: Leadership Lessons from the COVID-19 Pandemic,” Cuomo defended that deal on grounds that “we believed lives were on the line and understood we had few alternatives.”

Cuomo also wrote that “law enforcement is reviewing the matter for possible prosecution.”

Cuomo’s office didn’t immediately respond to a request for updates on either of those matters.

Please Me LLC owner Eddie Sitt, Oren-Pines, and Skadden, Arps also didn’t immediately return messages seeking comment.

Filed under andrew cuomo ,  china ,  comptroller ,  Coronavirus ,  deaths ,  health department ,  hong kong ,  lawyers ,  nursing homes ,  scams ,  thomas dinapoli ,  2/23/21

News Source: New York Post

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Comedy Club Sues Gov. Andrew Cuomo Over Coronavirus Shutdowns

A New York City comedy club filed a lawsuit Tuesday against Democratic New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo over coronavirus restrictions that have forced the business to stay shut.

Stand Up New York, a comedy club located on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, filed a lawsuit in the Southern District of New York arguing that Cuomo’s coronavirus restrictions unfairly forced the club to stay shut down. The lawsuit was originally reported by the New York Post.

Cuomo “has ordered comedy venues to remain closed while permitting movie theaters, casinos, Saturday Night Live, bowling alleys, billiards halls, gyms, jazz clubs, museums, catering halls for weddings, restaurants and bars with incidental music and other entertainment and recreation venues that pose similar or greater risk of COVID-19 transmission to reopen,” according to the complaint. (RELATED: Restaurant Owners File Lawsuit Against Cuomo, De Blasio Over Shutdowns)

Stand Up New York first opened in 1986. Popular comedians including Jerry Seinfeld, Chris Rock, Kevin Hart, and John Stewart have performed at the club. Since the pandemic began, the club has been forced to furlough all but one of its employees, the lawsuit says.

“Pretty much every comic that you’ve heard of has come through these doors,” one of the club’s owners, Dani Zoldan, told the Daily Caller during an interview.

Kevin Hart on stage at Stand Up New York

Zoldan, who bought the club 12 years ago, said the club had shows every night before the coronavirus pandemic. After the lockdowns began, Stand Up New York began doing shows in parks. (RELATED: The Walls Are Closing In On Andrew Cuomo)

“We’ve been forced to be creative in order to continue doing live comedy,” Zoldan said. The outdoor shows, however, don’t bring in enough revenue to cover the club’s overhead costs. Zoldan and the club’s co-owner, James Altucher, have had to negotiate just to keep Stand Up New York alive.

Zoldan told the Daily Caller that the club has received no information on when they can reopen nor an explanation as to why they are not yet allowed to operate.

“It’s been very frustrating seeing practically every other industry opening up around us,” he explained. Meanwhile, Cuomo has “never publicly explained how comedy venues are meaningfully different” than the other businesses which have been allowed to open, the lawsuit says.

The lawsuit seeks a preliminary injunction preventing Cuomo from forcing the comedy club to remain closed.

“I haven’t been able to make an income,” Zoldan said. “I have a family, I have three kids who go to private school … without an income, it’s difficult.”

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