A Texas doctor has been charged with stealing nine doses of the coveted COVID-19 vaccine while working at a county vaccination site, prosecutors announced Thursday.
Dr. Hasan Gokal, who worked with the Harris County Public Health system, is accused of stealing a vial that contained the doses from a vaccination site in Humble on Dec. 29, Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg said in a statement.
A week later, Gokal bragged about the theft to a co-worker, who then complained to his supervisors, Ogg said.
Gokal was later fired from his job.
Ogg said Gokal stole the doses to give them to his family and friends, leaving those who need a shot the most without one.
“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 of Gokal. “What he did was illegal and he’ll be held accountable under the law.”
Lawyer Paul Doyle defended his client arguing the vaccine would have expired anyway.
“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 in a statement to KHOU11.
“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 lawyer continued.
Gokal faces up to a year in jail and a $4,000 fine.