NEVADA (KTNV) — Peter Lucas, 35, of Reno, was arrested Tuesday and appeared in court Wednesday for allegedly stealing hundreds of surgical masks from a supply cart at the Ioannis A. Lougaris VA Medical Center (VA Medical Center) in Reno, announced U.S. Attorney Nicholas A. Trutanich for the District of Nevada.
“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 U.S. Attorney Trutanich. “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.”
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Lucas is charged with one count of theft of health care property. He made his initial appearance today before U.S. Magistrate Judge Carla L. Baldwin.
According to the complaint and affidavit, police surveillance cameras at the VA Medical Center depicted that, between March 19 and March 23, 2020, Lucas stole at least four boxes of surgical masks from supply carts in his care, then concealed the boxes under his jacket before exiting the hospital. Each box contained 50 masks.
If convicted, the maximum statutory penalty is one year in prison and a $100,000 fine. The maximum statutory sentence is prescribed by Congress and is provided here for informational purposes only. If convicted of any offense, the sentencing of a defendant will be determined by the Court, based on the advisory Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
A criminal complaint is a formal accusation of criminal conduct for purposes of establishing probable cause, not evidence of guilt. The defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty in a court of law.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org or directly to the U.S. Attorney’s Office at USANV.COVID19FRAUD@usdoj.gov.
For information about the Department of Justice’s efforts to stop COVID-19 fraud, visit here.