A former doctor for Harris County in Texas is accused of stealing a vial of the COVID-19 vaccine to benefit friends and family. His attorney says he was just trying to get the vaccine to people before the dosages expired.
“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,” Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg (D) said in a statement. “What he did was illegal and he’ll be held accountable under the law.”
According to the DA’s office, Dr. Hasan Gokal swiped a vial containing nine doses of the vaccine from the county vaccination site at Lyndsay Lyons Park in the city of Humble on December 29, 2020.
Authorities say Gokal told a colleague a week later. This person reported him to supervisors. Gokal was fired. Officials said that mishandling of the vaccine could end in the county losing government funding.
The vaccine was supposed to go to vulnerable populations and front-line works on a waiting list, the DA’s office said.
The defendant is charged with theft by a public servant. If convicted, the defendant could spend up to a year in jail, and must spend a $4,000 fine.
Doyle’s defense lawyer says his client was just trying to make sure dosages were used before expiring.
“Dr. 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 obtained by Law&Crime. “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. We look forward to our day in court to right this wrong.”
[Screengrab via Harris County Public Health by way of KHOU 11]
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