A Tulsa business is seeking damages from several international companies involved in a botched order of N95 masks for the Oklahoma State Department of Health.
Casey Bradford, a Tulsa business owner behind PPE Supplies LLC, was hired by the health department to seek out and purchase nearly two million of the medically certified masks last year during high global demand. The agency wired his company, PPE Supplies LLC, $2.1 million in March 2020.
The company operated by Bradford, Michael Velasquez, and Brett Baker worked with companies based in Washington state, Kuwait, Cambodia, and China on a $1.74 million order for one million masks, according to court documents filed by Bradford’s attorney.
Bradford and the company wired the $1.74 million to Khan Enterprises General Trading Company, of Kuwait, over two payments on March 27 and April 2, 2020, according to court documents filed by PPE Supplies LLC.
The masks never arrived and neither has a refund of the order, said Margo Shipley, attorney for Bradford and the company. So far, PPE Supplies LLC has returned $300,000 to the state.
"PPE Supplies has made every effort to repay the state what it can at this time,” Shipley said.
The federal lawsuit also targets Kaikane, a Washington-based company, and EJET, the Chinese company that was at the end of the international trade deal.
In May, according to court documents, IREC told PPE Supplies LLC a million masks were shipped to the Mongolian Government rather than Oklahoma.
Bradford alleges in a federal petition filed on Mar. 31 Khan Enterprises and Cambodian company IREC promised a refund, but have only returned $50,000.
“Khan and IREC have made multiple reassurances that they are going to pay back the money, and my client has tried to work with them to obtain that. But at a certain point, it became clear that that's not happening,” Shipley said. “That's why we've taken these steps."
In January, the OSDH filed a civil lawsuit in the Oklahoma County District Court seeking that Bradford and PPE Supplies LLC pay back the missing funds.
Attorney General Mike Hunter said the state agreed to do business with Bradford because of the limited options at the time for protective equipment.
“In a perfect world, this transaction would have occurred in a much more deliberative, well-documented fashion,” Hunter said in January.
The state partnered with Bradford while purchasing rules were relaxed due to international demand for protective equipment needed for pandemic response.
Last week, a routine state audit found the OSDH could not account for more than $20 million in “emergency purchases.”
“The Oklahoma State Department of Health does not typically utilize wire transfer payments so concur mistakes were made,” the health department said in its response to the audit.