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Firefighter arrested for vaccine theft

The investigation began when a battalion chief noticed discrepancies in the paperwork filed after a vaccine assignment.
Joshua Colon is facing 16 felony counts, including forgery and falsifying medical records.
Joshua Colon is facing 16 felony counts, including forgery and falsifying medical records.(Polk County Sheriff's Office via AP)
Published: Jan. 27, 2021 at 7:33 AM EST
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(WILX) - A Florida firefighter is being accused of covering up stolen coronavirus vaccines.

Polk County prosecutors say Joshua Colon, 31, received 30 doses of the Moderna vaccine to administer to his fellow emergency workers. Colon says his supervisor, Captain Anthony Damiano, asked about getting his mother a shot.

Court documents say Colon initially refused, but the captain threatened to report him for stealing and selling vaccines. Colon said that frightened him. When he got back from a break, the seals were broken, and the vaccines were gone.

He then was told to falsify documents on how many people he vaccinated.

“The bottom line is, Joshua tried to cover for the captain. Joshua set up the circumstance for the vaccines to have been stolen,” Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd said. “Had Joshua simply gone to his boss right then, he’d have been the hero.”

Colon is facing 16 felony counts, including forgery and falsifying medical records. Damiano is expected to be arrested some time this week for theft and official misconduct.

On Jan. 13, a group of local civic clubs in Lakeland had named Colon “Paramedic of the Year” for his actions after a serious highway crash, according to a Facebook post by Polk County Fire Rescue.

The investigation began when a battalion chief noticed discrepancies in the paperwork Colon filed after a vaccine assignment.

The Jan. 6 paperwork included three falsified forms, investigators said. One had the name of a former Haines City firefighter, and two were fake names, one of which resembled a former Haines City firefighter.

During the investigation, the two firefighters were contacted and told investigators that they had not yet received the vaccine.

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