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Reno man pleads guilty to stealing surgical masks from VA hospital

Peter Lucas. Washoe County jail photograph.
Peter Lucas. Washoe County jail photograph.(KOLO)
Published: Apr. 8, 2020 at 3:19 PM PDT
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A Reno man has pleaded guilty to stealing hundreds of surgical masks from Reno’s Ioannis A. Lougaris VA Medical Center.

Peter Lucas, 35, faces one year in prison and a $250,000 fine for the one county of Theft in Connection With Health Care. He is scheduled to be sentenced on September 9, 2020.

“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,” U.S. Attorney Nicholas A. Trutanich said in a statement. “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.”

Surveillance cameras at the VA Medical Center showed between March 19 and March 23 , Lucas stole at least four boxes of surgical masks from supply carts in his care, then concealed the boxes under his jacket before leaving the hospital, the U.S. Attorney's Office said. Each box has 50 masks.

VA police were alerted after an electronic door alarm went off on March 19. Surveillance photo shows Lucas allegedly taking masks from a cart and concealing it.

Lucas admitted to police he took four boxes, ultimately saying he took them to give to the homeless, the criminal complaint against him said.

In 2017, Lucas was the recipient of a free car courtesy of CoAuto in Reno. He was described them as a veteran and single father raising three children.

CoAuto donates the cars every year.

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 or directly to the U.S. Attorney’s Office at USANV.COVID19FRAUD@usdoj.gov.

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