District Attorney Kim Ogg said in a statement Thursday that Dr. Hassan Gokal was charged with theft by a government official, a crime punishable by up to a year in prison and a $ 4,000 fine.
Gokal is accused of taking a nine-dose vial on December 29, 2020. He worked at a vaccination site in Humble, north of Houston, Og said.
Authorities say the doctor “disregarded existing county protocols to ensure that the vaccine is not lost but applied to vulnerable populations and first-line workers on the waiting list.”
“He abused his position to put his friends and family in line in front of people who went through the legal process to be there,”
Gokal’s lawyer said his client was looking forward to correcting what he called wrong.
“The doctor is a dedicated government official who ensures that the doses of the COVID-19 vaccine that would otherwise expire go into the arms of people who meet the criteria for receiving it,” said attorney Paul Doyle in a statement. “Harris County would prefer Dr. Gokal to let the vaccines go to waste and try to tarnish this man’s reputation in the process to support this policy.”
Gokal told a fellow employee what he had done and the man reported it to supervisors, authorities said. He was later fired.
Harris County Public Health said it would not issue a statement.
Doyle said he expected to have more to say on Friday.
CNN failed to confirm Gokal’s first appearance in court.