WINTER HAVEN, Florida (WESH) — A paramedic with the Polk County Fire Rescue Department has been arrested for allegedly stealing COVID-19 vaccines.
Deputies with the Polk County Sheriff’s Office said 31-year-old Joshua Colon stole three doses’ worth of the Moderna vaccine, then forged the vaccine screening and consent forms.
Colon resigned on Friday and was arrested on Monday.
According to an arrest affidavit, Colon was assigned to administer Moderna vaccines to first responders in Davenport. As part of his role, he had to get each recipient to complete and sign a vaccine consent form. He then had to add each recipient to a log that lists the time each dose was given.
On Jan. 6 investigators said Colon received three vials containing 10 vaccines each, and was directed to administer those to first responders.
At the end of the day, he was asked to report the total number of doses administered and reported giving out 28 vaccines. He said two had to be thrown away because of possible time of exposure prior to administering. Colon later retracted that and said he administered 27 vaccines and three had to be thrown out, according to the affidavit.
Days later, investigators said Colon only provided 21 completed forms, but investigators said the log contained 23 vaccine recipients, meaning two of the consent forms were missing.
When asked about the discrepancy, Colon said he would get the information to complete the form.
Investigators said Colon gave then three names, two firefighters, and one person that was not connected the department. During the investigation, the two firefighters were contacted, and both said they had not yet received the vaccine. Investigators said they determined the third name had been fabricated.
On Monday, deputies met with Colon for an interview and said he admitted to creating those forms himself and signing them. He also said he added the names to the log.
Colon told deputies that on the day of the theft, his supervisor joked with him about getting some vaccines for the supervisor’s mother. Colon said he was told by the supervisor to report those vaccines as waste, the affidavit said.
According to Colon, he refused to provide those vaccines to the supervisor, at which time the supervisor said he would tell those higher up in the chain of command that Colon was selling vaccines outside of work.
Colon said that he was ordered to go on his lunch break later that day by the supervisor. The vaccines were left in a refrigerator with a label tab. When Colon returned to the station, he said he noticed the label tab was tampered with and three vaccines were missing.
Colon said he became suspicious, but did not question his supervisor or report it.
He was charged with four counts of forgery, four counts of falsifying medical records and one count of official misconduct.
He was released from jail on bond.
Investigators said they are continuing to look into the role Colon’s supervisor may have played in the thefts.
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