A grand jury has refused to accuse a former Houston-area doctor of stealing nine doses of a coronavirus vaccine and giving them to family and friends
Prosecutors had alleged that Harris County Public Health worker Hassan Gokal stole a vial of the Moderna coronavirus vaccine while working at a vaccination site in a suburban Houston park on December 29.
But grand jurors in Harris County, where Houston is located, decided that no criminal charges were filed. The grand jury’s decision comes after a judge dismissed the theft charge filed against Gokal in January.
Gokal’s attorney, Paul Doyle, said in the statement that the grand jury’s ruling ends “a prolonged, unreasonable attempt by District Attorney Kim Ogg and his office to disparage Dr. Gokal’s good name.”
“No doctor should ever feel compelled to choose between saving a life and keeping his or her job,” Doyle said.
Doyle said hundreds of medical professionals and others wrote letters, sent emails and called in support of Gokal’s actions.
“We respect the grand jury’s decision in this and every case. Evidence, not public opinion, is the guiding principle of our work,” the Harris County District Attorney’s Office said in a statement.
Doyle said Gokal didn’t do anything wrong and was just trying to make sure a punctured vial didn’t ruin the vaccine.
A judge later dismissed the charge of theft, ruling that there was no probable cause in the case. Harris County Court-at-Law Judge Franklin Bynum criticized prosecutors, saying their likely-cause complaint was “full of laxity and errors.”
Following the dismissal, prosecutors presented the case to a grand jury.
In March, the Texas Medical Board dismissed an investigation against Gokal, saying he had “given doses of the COVID-19 vaccine to patients in the eligible patient category, who had been properly consented, and given the doses who would have gone otherwise.” Ruin.”
The board also found that there were no protocols for Gokal to follow and relied on state guidance not to waste the vaccine.
In Wisconsin, a former pharmacist who deliberately wasted more than 500 doses of a COVID-19 vaccine was sentenced on June 8 to three years in prison.