Doctor Faces Charges After Stealing COVID Vaccines to Give to Friends and Family
A doctor in Texas is facing charges for allegedly stealing “a vial of COVID-19 vaccine,” Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg announced Thursday in a news release.
Dr. Hasan Gokal, a doctor for Harris County Public Health, allegedly admitted to a co-worker that he had previously stolen a vial that contained nine doses of the COVID-19 vaccine while working at a county vaccination site in Lyndsay Lyons Park, according to the news release.
The co-worker reported what Gokal told him to superiors.
“He abused his position to place his friends and family in line in front of people who had gone through the lawful process to be there,” Ogg said.
“What he did was illegal and he’ll be held accountable under the law.”
Gokal faces charges of theft by a public servant, Ogg announced.
“Gokal disregarded county protocols in place to ensure vaccine is not wasted but administered to vulnerable populations and front-line workers on a waiting list,” the news release said.
Harris County Public Health added that “mishandling vaccine can result in a loss of government funding to the county.”
Class A misdemeanors carry a $4,000 fine and a maximum sentence of one year in jail.
The office of Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo and the office of County Attorney Christian Menefee have contacted prosecutors and the Public Corruption Division of the Harris County District Attorney’s Office is prosecuting the doctor, according to the news release.
Gokal’s lawyer said he is anticipating correcting what he says is a wrong, CNN reported.
Gokal is “a dedicated public servant who ensured that COVID-19 vaccine dosages that would have otherwise expired went into the arms of people who met the criteria for receiving it,” attorney Paul Doyle said in a statement to CNN.
“Harris County would have preferred Dr. Gokal let the vaccines go to waste and are attempting to disparage this man’s reputation in the process to support this policy.”
As of Friday morning, there have been over 412,000 COVID-19 deaths in the U.S., according to Johns Hopkins.
The Harris County District Attorney’s Office and Paul Doyle & Associates didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.
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