State Attorney General and the Oklahoma State Health Department filed a lawsuit Monday against Tulsa business owner Casey Bradford and his company over a botched mask order from China.
In March, Oklahoma and much of the country was searching for personal protective equipment, or PPE, to assist in mitigating the spread of COVID-19.
According to the petition filed in the Oklahoma County District Court, Bradford approached the OSDH to sell PPE through connections in China.
Bradford and co-owners Brett Baker and Michael Velasquez formed the company PPE Supplies LLC in late March. On the same day, the state made its first of four orders for the supplies, according to Hunter.
“In a perfect world, this transaction would have occurred in a much more deliberative, well-documented fashion,” Hunter said.
According to the petition, Bradford said he would expedite the shipment if the state made a deposit up-front. In total, the state paid Bradford and the company $2.1 million for 1.2 million masks.
After several missed deadlines, the state canceled the orders. Bradford gave the state back only $300,000 and got fewer than 10,000 masks, according to Hunter.
Hunter said the state made the purchases at a time when PPE was highly sought across the country and in limited supply.
“Tough calls needed to be made,” Hunter said. “That doesn’t justify somebody saying they’re going to deliver goods, and receiving 2 million dollars plus, and then not delivering on the goods.”
Bradford, who owns several businesses including a Tulsa piano bar, defended himself in a statement, calling the petition “one-sided.”
“Due to the pending litigation, I am unable to comment in detail with respect to the Oklahoma State Department of Health’s allegations against me,” Bradford said in a statement. “All I can say is that there is much more to this dispute than is set forth in the Health Department’s one-sided petition. I am confident that the legal process will reveal a full picture of the facts.”
Margo Shipley, Bradford’s attorney, said third parties took advantage of him during the purchase.
Bradford “is a ten-year U.S. military veteran and local small business owner employing many Oklahomans,” Shipley said. “Mr. Bradford was, unfortunately, a victim of unscrupulous third parties during the pandemic.”
Hunter said he does not know where the outstanding money ended up after the state paid Bradford’s company, which was formed on the same day as the first purchase order.
“The state is out $1.8 million and it's our job to hold this individual accountable,” Hunter said.