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Man accused of stealing surgical masks from VA hospital during pandemic

Man accused of stealing surgical masks from VA hospital during pandemic
Posted at 9:13 AM, Apr 09, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-09 12:17:05-04

RENO, Nev. – A Nevada man was arrested Tuesday after allegedly stealing hundreds of surgical masks from the Ioannis A. Lougaris VA Medical Center in Reno during the coronavirus pandemic.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office announced Wednesday that 35-year-old Peter Lucas is being charged with one count of theft of health care property.

According to court documents, surveillance cameras at the VA hospital showed Lucas stealing at least four boxes of surgical masks from supply carts in his care, then concealing them under his jacket before exiting the hospital. Each box contained 50 masks.

The theft occurred sometime between March 19 and March 23, court documents say.

If convicted, the maximum statutory penalty for Lucas’ charge is one year in prison and a $100,000 fine. However, the sentencing of a defendant will be determined by the court, based on the advisory sentencing guidelines and other statutory factors.

“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,” said Nicholas A. Trutanich for the District of Nevada. “We will not allow the theft of personal protective equipment to go undeterred, endangering the safety of doctors, nurses, and other health professionals protecting our communities.”

The case is a product of an investigation by the VA Police Department. Assistant U.S. Attorney Peter Walkingshaw is prosecuting this case.

The public is urged to report suspected fraud schemes related to COVID-19 by calling the National Center for Disaster Fraud (NCDF) hotline (1-866-720-5721) or by e-mailing the NCDF at disaster@leo.gov.