Harris County Public Health doctor charged for stealing vial of COVID-19 vaccine

Texas

HARRIS COUNTY, Texas (KETK)- A Harris County Public Health doctor is being charged after stealing a vial of the COVID-19 vaccine.

Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg announced Thursday that Hasan Gokal is being charged with theft by a public servant, and he was fired.

Gokal took a vial that had nine doses of the vaccine. He did this while he was working at the county vaccination site Lyndsay Lyons Park, in Humble, Texas on Dec. 29, 2020.

A week after the incident, the doctor told another Harris County Public Health employee about what he had done. This employee later informed his supervisors.

Harris County Public Health were the first organization to investigate the crime. The Office of Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo and The Office of County Attorney Christian Menefee also contacted prosecutors.

Mishandling a vaccine can lead the county to lose government funding, wrote the Harris County DA’s office.

“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.”

This offense is a Class A Misdemeanor that has a penalty of approximately a year in jail and a $4,000 fine. Gokal is currently being prosecuted by the Public Corruption Division of the Harris County District Attorney’s Office.

“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”, wrote Ogg’s office.

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