Caught in a lie, CEO of embattled firm caring for NYC migrants resigns
Sep 16, 2023, 1:55 PM
NEW YORK (AP) — The chief executive officer of a firm hired by New York City to house and care for hundreds of migrants abruptly resigned Friday after he admitted to lying about his educational record and as DocGo has come under scrutiny for its $432 million no-bid contract with the city.
Anthony Capone’s resignation came after the Albany Times Union reported earlier in the day that Capone had lied about having a graduate degree in artificial intelligence from Clarkson University. The university told the paper that Capone had never attended the university.
Capone later admitted to the paper he had never earned a graduate degree from any institution of learning.
“I take full responsibility and am making immediate corrections to all official bios, profiles and any other materials where this incorrect information appears,” he had said in a statement.
The company confirmed Capone’s resignation Friday in a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, which said the company’s president and chief operating officer, Lee Bienstock, had been appointed the new CEO.
The filing cited “personal reasons” for his resignation, which was effective immediately.
DocGo was already under scrutiny when its no-bid contract with New York City came to light, prompting questions about what services the company was providing — as well as the quality of those services. Neither the company nor city officials were willing to voluntarily disclose details of the contract.
Earlier this month, New York City Comptroller Brad Lander said there were “numerous outstanding issues and concerns” that prompted him to reject the city’s $432 million no-bid emergency contract with DocGo.
Among those concerns, Lander said, was the lack of “budget detail to justify” the value of the contract and a lack of evidence the company has “the expertise to provide the services it has been contracted for.”
The city comptroller is an independently elected official.
Lander’s decision to return the contract without approval to the city’s Department of Housing Preservation and Development, which inked the contract with DocGo, can’t scuttle the deal.
Mayor Eric Adams has the authority to override the comptroller and has said, “We are going to move forward with it.”
The New York Times reported in August that state Attorney General Letitia James had launched an investigation into the company, which has been accused by some migrants and their advocates of providing inaccurate information about their ability to work, obtain health care coverage and other actions that could risk their ability to gain asylum.
The attorney general is also reporting whether security personnel hired by DocGo mistreated and threatened them, including ordering migrants not to speak with journalists.
DocGo began as a medical services company, describing itself on its website as delivering “high-quality medical care outside traditional hospital or clinic settings across our service lines: Mobile Health Care, Medical Transportation and Remote Patient Monitoring/Chronic Disease Management. We’re bringing the future of healthcare to patients’ doorsteps.”
During the pandemic, it contracted with the city to provide COVID-19 testing and vaccinations.
Since then, it has expanded its services — inexplicably beyond medicine, critics say, and into the realm of logistical operations to transport, house, feed and care for hundreds, if not thousands, of asylum seekers — many of them bused outside of New York City to other communities in the state.
The company has been trying to land a lucrative contract, valued in the billions of dollars, with the federal government