Businesses at risk after Suffolk County misses another month of payments due to cyberattack
Some Suffolk businesses are owed tens of millions of dollars more than two months after a cyberattack crippled the county's IT system.
The county continues the slow process of handwriting checks and agencies have prioritized the most critical payments, which include government operations and services provided to residents.
Those critical payments should go to businesses like Little Angels Center, which offers pediatric therapy services and operates a special education preschool program. However, Laura Rogacki said the county owes her close to $1 million.
"At this point, I'm about to dip into my personal savings, my retirement, my line of credit," said Rogacki, founder and executive director of the Little Angels Center.
In Islip, it is a similar story.
Tara Thornton co-owns Kids in Action of Long Island Inc., which provides occupational therapy to hundreds of children in the county. She said she has been kept in the dark for months and is waiting on hundreds of thousands of dollars—putting her business at risk.
"Messages, emails, and they're not answering our phone calls anymore," said Thornton. "I can't imagine shutting down, but how could you continue to go on if you're not getting reimbursed? We need the help from the county."
Both businesses have received at least one check since the September cyberattack, but the payments are not enough to cover operating costs.
Team 12 Investigates when businesses like these will get paid. Deputy County Executive Vanessa Baird-Streeter said a timeline is hard to predict. Departments and agencies highlight critical payments daily, she said, before sending them to the county executive's office for review.
The county has sent more than $189 million in payments to the Suffolk County Comptroller's office for processing.
Suffolk Comptroller John Kennedy has been handwriting thousands of checks since the September cyberattack, and now, those checks must be verified.
"The comptroller's office is currently working on the reconciliation process, but that process needs to be completed by the comptroller's office prior to opening up our full financial system to be able to enter in new payments," said Baird-Streeter.
Kennedy expects to close out the reconciliation process within the first or second week of December. The county's financial management system has been brought back online which will then return them to their automated process.
County officials tell Team 12 Investigates that some departments have been late in submitting vendor claims to the comptroller's office, which has undoubtedly contributed to the delays.
Back at Little Angels Center, they are running out of time and patience.
"We are committed to the families of Suffolk County. We're committed to the employees that work for us and I won't let this affect any of those services or any of my employees being paid," added Rogacki. "I'm going to do what it takes to make it happen, but I really need Suffolk County to give us answers right now."