Matt Young, Chron.com / Houston Chronicle
Jan. 21, 2021Updated: Jan. 22, 2021 8:23 a.m.
A vial of Moderna COVID-19 vaccine at a Houston location.
Steve Gonzales, Houston Chronicle / Staff photographer
A Harris County Public Health doctor has been fired and charged with theft for taking a vial of COVID-19 vaccine, Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg announced Thursday.
According to the statement from Ogg, Dr. Hasan Gokal stole the vial containing nine doses while working at the vaccination site at Humble’s Lyndsay Lyons Park on Dec. 29. A week later, he told a co-worker, who reported him to supervisors.
“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.”
Paul Doyle, Gokal’s attorney, said the vaccine his client took would have expired had it not been used.
“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,” Doyle said. “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.”
The Class A Misdemeanor carries a penalty of up to a year in jail and a $4,000 fine. Gokal is being prosecuted by the Public Corruption Division of the Harris County District Attorney’s Office.
Matt Young has been a sports web editor/writer at Chron since 2015. He’s proudly from Alief and occasionally sits alone in his four-cornered room staring at candles. Reach him at [email protected]
Source : chron.com