Fire captain accused of stealing vaccine turns himself in

BARTOW, Fla. (AP) — A Florida fire captain accused of stealing COVID-19 vaccines meant for first responders turned himself in Wednesday afternoon, sheriff’s officials said.

Polk County Fire Rescue Capt. Anthony Damiano, 55, faces a felony charge of falsifying an official record as a public servant and misdemeanor petit theft, according to a Polk County Sheriff’s Office news release. Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd said at a news conference Tuesday that paramedic Joshua Colon, 31, was arrested Monday for covering up Damiano’s theft.

Polk County Fire Rescue had been delivering the coronavirus vaccines to first responders, and Colon was administering the shots, Judd said. Colon forged the vaccine screening and consent forms to help cover up the theft of three vials of the Moderna vaccine, Judd said.

During an interview at his lawyer’s office, Colon told investigators that Damiano had asked him to take the vaccine. Colon told investigators he initially refused, but the captain threatened to report him for stealing and selling vaccines. Colon said that frightened him.

Damiano wasn’t arrested sooner because he had been on a work assignment in California, Judd said.

Damiano was free on $1,250 bail. Jail records didn’t list whether he had an attorney who could comment.