A Texas doctor has been fired and charged after he allegedly stole nine doses of the coronavirus vaccine to give to his family and friends.
If convicted, Dr. Hasan Gokal, 48, could face a prison sentence of up to one year and a $4,000 fine.
Gokal stole a vial containing nine doses of the vaccine on Dec. 29, 2020, while working at a vaccination site in Humble, Texas, Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg said in a news release on Thursday.
A week later, he confessed to a Harris County Public Health colleague, who in turn reported him to supervisors, the release says. Gokal was investigated and later fired.
He is now being prosecuted by the Public Corruption Division of the Harris County District Attorney’s Office, where he faces a charge of theft by a public servant.
“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 in a statement . “What he did was illegal and he’ll be held accountable under the law.”
Paul Doyle, Gokal’s attorney, said that the doctor was ensuring that none of the COVID-19 vaccine doses go unused.
“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,” he said in a statement to ABC13 News .
Gokal “disregarded county protocols in place” to make sure that all vaccine doses go to vulnerable populations and front-line workers on the waiting list, the Harris County District Attorney’s Office said in the news release. Mishandling vaccines can result in a loss of government funding to the county, the release said.
Gokal does not have any disciplinary history with the Texas Medical Board, according to Dallas News .