A Florida man who had recently been awarded the title of "Paramedic of the Year" is accused of helping a supervisor steal coronavirus vaccines that had been designated for first responders, police officials recently said.
Joshua Colon, 31, was arrested Monday and charged with felony counts of uttering a false instrument, criminal use of personal identification, creating a fictitious person and falsifying an official record as a public servant, the Polk County Sheriff’s Office announced Tuesday. He resigned from Polk County Fire Rescue on Friday.
"The bottom line is, Joshua tried to cover for the captain," Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd said Tuesday. "Joshua set up the circumstance for the vaccines to have been stolen. Had Joshua simply gone to his boss right then, he’d have been the hero. Instead, he started falsifying paperwork, making up people who didn’t exist to cover it up."
Just earlier this month, a group of local civic clubs in Lakeland named Colon "Paramedic of the Year" for his actions after a serious highway crash, according to a recent Polk County Fire Rescue social media post.
Colon did not immediately respond to Fox News' message seeking comment.
The Polk County Fire Rescue paramedic and training officer was tasked with administering the Moderna vaccine to fire responders, who were each required to complete and sign a Florida Health COVID-19 Vaccine Screening and Consent Form, according to an affidavit pertaining to Colon’s arrest.
He was also supposed to take notes in a log that detailed, for each vaccine recipient, "the time the dose was given, the observation time, and any adverse reaction observed," the affidavit states.
On Jan. 6, Colon was given "three vials containing 10 vaccines each," police said, to administer to first responders at a Davenport station house.
At the end of his shift, Colon noted that he administered 28 vaccines, adding that two of them were no good, an arrest report said. Later, Colon retracted that, saying he gave 27 vaccines and three were waste.
The investigation began when a battalion chief noticed the 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 that of a former Haines City firefighter.
Investigators contacted the two firefighters, who told investigators that they had not yet received the vaccine.
Judd said deputies interviewed Colon at his lawyer’s office. Judd said Colon admitted to falsifying the paperwork and said the captain had asked him to procure doses for his mother.
Colon told investigators he initially refused, but the captain threatened to report him for stealing and selling vaccines. Colon said that frightened him, investigators said.
According to the report, the captain ordered Colon to go on a lunch break the next day. When he returned he noticed the three doses were missing, but he did not report the issue.
While at the lawyer’s office, Colon called the captain and they discussed the vaccine, according to investigators who monitored the call. The captain told Colon that the doses were in a car parked outside a friend’s house in Saint Cloud, officials said.
According to Judd, deputies found two vials there. The third has not been recovered.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.