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2.8 million gloves: Oklahoma's 'PPE czar' paid $56K 'finders fee' to company that didn't deliver on PPE order

2.8 million gloves: Oklahoma's 'PPE czar' paid $56K 'finders fee' to company that didn't deliver on PPE order

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Oklahoma’s personal protection equipment czar, Gino DeMarco, is seen during a press conference on April 7 at an Oklahoma City warehouse where the state has amassed its stockpile of personal protection equipment and medical supplies for the COVID-19 response. Chris Landsberger/The Oklahoman file

OKLAHOMA CITY — The state Health Department paid a $56,000 “finders fee” last week to a middleman for 2.8 million gloves even though he was unable to secure delivery himself as promised, according to information obtained by The Oklahoman.

The governor’s PPE “czar,” Gino DeMarco, ordered the payment — 2 cents a glove — to Torque Capital LLC, an Oklahoma City-based company that has been in existence less than a year.

The state ended up dealing directly with the glove supplier, Clean Safety, to arrange for the “must-have” delivery of personal protective equipment. The change was made because Torque Capital executive Lewis Wang could not come up with an advance payment himself, the records show.

The Health Department did not directly answer questions Thursday about why Torque Capital LLC was paid anyway.

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