Ex-Marine Accused Of Stealing Hundreds Of Face Masks From a Veterans Administration Hospital
Peter Lucas claims he took the protective personal equipment to give to the homeless.
A Nevada man is accused of stealing hundreds of face masks from a medical center, federal prosecutors announced.
Peter Lucas, 35, allegedly pilfered “at least four boxes of surgical masks from supply carts in his care” at Reno’s Ioannis A. Lougaris Veterans Administration Medical Center between Mar. 19 and 23, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Nevada said in a statement.
Officials noted the veteran was a “compensated enrollee” in a vocational rehabilitation program at the VA hospital.
The alleged theft came to light after police looked into the cause of an electronic door alarm sounding on Mar. 19. Authorities claim surveillance camera footage shows Lucas hiding the boxes beneath his jacket and leaving the hospital. Police arrested the ex-Marine on Apr. 7.
According to Reno’s KOLO-TV, the Veterans Administration hospital has received only about a third of the 94,000 face masks they ordered for staff who are battling the coronavirus crisis.
Citing a criminal complaint, the station reported Lucas admitted he stole the surgical masks and had intended to hand them out to the homeless.
U.S. Attorney Nicholas Trutanich said in the statement the theft of the much-needed personal protective equipment would not go unpunished since it could endanger “the safety of doctors, nurses and other health care professionals protecting our communities.”
“Our military veterans served on the front lines to protect our country, and now our health professionals are doing the same in our fight against Covid-19,” Trutanich added.
Lucas is charged with one count of theft of health care property. If convicted, he faces up to a year in prison and a $100,000 fine.
He is scheduled to next appear in court via video conference on Apr. 17.