State Watch

2020 'Paramedic of the Year' arrested for alleged role in stealing COVID-19 vaccines

A man who was named the 2020 "Paramedic of the Year" was arrested on Monday for allegedly playing a role in stealing doses of the coronavirus vaccine.

Joshua Colon, 21, of Florida, admitted to forging paperwork in order to conceal his supervisor's theft of three syringes of the Moderna coronavirus vaccine, NBC News reported. Colon faces charges of forgery, fraud and misconduct.

Colon was named the Paramedic of the Year in 2020 by the Presidents' Roundtable in Polk County, Fla. He resigned from his position on Friday.

Polk County Fire Rescue Captain Anthony Damiano, Colon's supervisor, allegedly joked about wanting a vaccine for his mother, threatening Colon when he did not give him the vaccines. The captain then ordered Colon to take a break, after which three pre-filled syringes of the vaccine disappeared.

Colon then forged the paperwork when asked to provide documents for the vaccines. 

Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd said during a press conference that the forgery was discovered when "discrepancies" were noticed on three separate vaccine forms filled out by Colon. The paramedic had been given three vials of the vaccine to administer to Polk County first responders, NBC News reported.

Authorities contacted some of the people listed on the forms as recipients of the vaccine, only to discover that none of them had been immunized.

"The bottom line is Joshua tried to cover for the captain, Joshua set up the circumstance for the vaccines to have been stolen," said Judd. "Had Joshua simply gone to his boss right then he'd have been the hero, but instead he started falsifying paperwork making up people who didn't exist to cover it up."

Speaking to NBC News, a spokesperson for the Polk County sheriff said charges against Damiano were "imminent" and that he was currently at large.

"Mr. Colon deeply regrets his weakness in failing to alert the Chain of Command to the theft of the vaccine, accepts responsibility for his error in covering up the theft, and in an effort to protect the reputation of his agency, has resigned his position," said David Carmichael, an attorney representing Colon.

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