Polk Paramedic Accused of Stealing COVID-19 Vaccine

WINTER HAVEN -- A Polk County paramedic and former Firefighter of the Year is accused of stealing vials of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine. One of his superiors could also face charges.

Polk Sheriff Grady Judd says 31-year-old Joshua Colon intentionally let three doses worth of the vaccine get stolen, and forged screening and consent forms to make it appear as though the shots had gone to firefighters. Colon told them he was told to do so by his supervisor, identified by the sheriff as Captain Anthony Damiano. Judd says Colon left the doses while he went out, and when he came back, they were gone. Colon resigned Friday (22nd) and was arrested Monday (25).

Colon was named Polk County Firefighter of the Year in 2020.

A battalion chief caught the discrepancies in Colon's paperwork and alerted the sheriff's office. When questioned, deputies say Colon told them "I have embarrassed the fire service... (with) falsified names and paperwork."

Judd says Captain Damiano left the doses in a car parked at a friend's home in St. Cloud while he went to California... ironically, to assist that state's COVID-19 response. That rendered the vaccines useless. Damiano is due back shortly and is expected to be questioned and arrested.

"At the end of the day they knew better and they violated the rules and the checks and balances in the system were in place and that's how they got caught... why they did what they did is beyond us," Judd said.

Photo: PCSO/Getty Images