Sara-Megan Walsh, The Ledger
Printed 9: 54 a.m. ET Jan. 27, 2021 | Updated 12: 56 p.m. ET Jan. 27, 2021
LAKELAND, Fla. – The 2020 “Paramedic of the Year” in Polk County, Florida, has been arrested and charged with stealing COVID-19 vaccines meant for first responders.
Joshua Colon, 31, used to be arrested Monday by the Polk County Sheriff’s Office after confessing to deliberately stealing three doses of Moderna vaccine, then forging bureaucracy in an strive and quilt his actions, in accordance to the Sheriff’s Office.
“We fetch a accountability to uphold the community’s belief,” said Robert Weech, chief of Polk County Fireplace Rescue. “We learned in one of these alternatives we didn’t invent that. We are deeply disillusioned.”
In accordance with Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd, Colon said he stole the vaccines this month at the test of his supervisor, Capt. Tony Damiano, who sought the vaccine for his aged mother.
The Sheriff’s Office said the paramedic at the commence refused, but he urged investigators that Damiano threatened to impart these better in the chain of enlighten that Colon used to be selling the vaccines commence air of work.
“Joshua tried to quilt for the captain; Joshua situation up the circumstances for vaccines to be stolen,” Judd said. “Had Joshua merely long past to his boss merely then, he would fetch been a hero.”
Colon obtained three vials on Jan. 6 every containing 10 doses to administer to first responders in Davenport, Florida. As soon as administered, Colon needed to offer names and the number of doses administered – first reporting 28 vaccinations and two wasted, in accordance to his affidavit.
Weech said that upon reviewing Colon’s submitted bureaucracy, there fetch been discrepancies that couldn’t be explained. Three Florida Neatly being COVID-19 Vaccine Screening and Consent kinds turned in by Colon fetch been not carried out on the day of the incident. For the duration of the investigation, two of the firefighters who fetch been contacted said they had not yet obtained a COVID-19 vaccine.
Colon later confessed together with the names of two firefighters and one false title, in accordance to Judd. The paramedic urged deputies he carried out the kinds to enlighten every vaccine used to be accounted for, increasing fictitious electronic mail addresses and cellular telephone numbers.
Colon confessed he had build three vaccine doses into syringes and placed them in the fire station’s fridge with a label on it, Judd said. Colon urged investigators he used to be ordered to go on his lunch ruin by his supervisor, and when he got right here support the vaccine doses fetch been long past.
For the duration of the investigation, officers asked Colon to call Damiano to chat about the concerns with the vaccines in an effort to securely stumble on and retrieve them. The deputies realized the stolen doses fetch been in a automobile parked in front of a St. Cloud dwelling, Judd said.
The Polk County Sheriff’s Office worked with Osceola County to indulge in a warrant and search the property and automobile. The lacking vaccines fetch been learned on the front seat of the automobile. They are not viable for employ because of this of Moderna’s vaccine wishes to be kept refrigerated.
One dose of the COVID-19 vaccine remains unaccounted for, Judd said.
Colon resigned from Polk County Fireplace Rescue on Friday, earlier than his arrest. He faces 12 criminal and two misdemeanor charges, together with four counts of forgery, four counts falsifying clinical recordsdata, two counts increasing fictional non-public IDs and official misconduct.
Damiano, a 17-yr ragged, is below investigation. He used to be deployed to California to encourage in the pandemic response as a member of the National Catastrophe Clinical System. Judd said he expected to arrest Damiano upon his return dwelling.
Practice reporter Sara-Megan Walsh on Twitter @SaraWalshFl
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