In Florida, an emergency worker was arrested this week in connection with the theft of coronavirus vaccine doses, just 12 days after being recognized as a county “ambulance doctor of the year,” authorities said Tuesday.
The ambulance, Joshua Colon, 31, was responsible for administering the vaccine to Polk County firefighters, county sheriff Grady Judd said at a news conference.
But earlier this month, Mr. Colon was unable to account for three doses of the Moderna vaccine that authorities said were originally discarded. When a battalion commander urged the missing portions, Mr. Colon falsified the vaccination filter and consent forms with two false names and the name of a retired firefighter, Sheriff Judd said.
The missing portions were illegally removed from a refrigerator by one of Mr. Colon’s supervisors, a fire captain, who, according to the sheriff, told Mr. Colon to leave for his break. The fire captain, who is expected to be charged with the vaccination theft, had previously asked Mr. Colon if he could help him get the vaccine for his mother, authorities said.
Sheriff Judd says his office, which arrested Mr. Colon on Monday, takes the sacred trust of emergency workers very seriously. Mr Colon resigned on the day of his arrest, authorities said.
“We have a question for them,” Sheriff Judd said. “What were you thinking? He only had three brain cells?
David Colichael, Mr. Colon’s attorney, did not respond immediately to requests for comments on Tuesday night. But he told The Tampa Bay Times that Mr. Colon initially tried to bring the theft to the attention of the head of the Polk County Fire Department, but the boss was not in town. That’s when he tried to cover up the theft, Mr. Carmichael told the newspaper.
“Mr. Colon deeply regrets that his weakness in not warning the chain of command to steal the vaccine is responsible for the mistake of concealing the theft and resigning from his position to protect his agency’s reputation,” Carmichael said in an email to the newspaper.
Mr. Colon was charged with 16 crimes, which included falsification, falsification of medical records, breach of official duties, and the creation of a fictitious identity document, according to the sheriff’s office.
“Josh Colon was a trusted employee,” Robert Weech, head of the Polk County Fire Department, told a news conference. – I think that’s uncharacteristic. He made serious mistakes.
Officials could not tell whether Mr. Colon had been put under pressure by his supervisor to cover up the theft.
“It doesn’t seem to me that he would have benefited from it at all,” Chief Weech said.
The boss noted that Mr Colon was honored on 13 January by a group of NGOs as the “ambulance doctor of the year” for 2019 and 2020, as well as in response to a serious multivehicle accident on the local highway. Polk County is located in Central Florida between Tampa and Orlando.
The Polk County Firefighter posted photos on its Facebook page when a memorial plaque was presented for the honor.
“It’s a matter of public trust,” leader Weech said Tuesday. – We take this seriously.