Coronavirus

Florida Official Accused of Stealing N95 Masks Meant for Coronavirus First Responders

Michel Merchan, 45, was arrested Wednesday on charges of grand theft and grand theft of emergency medical equipment

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A Doral public works supervisor is facing charges after authorities said he stole hundreds of N95 masks that were meant for first responders battling the coronavirus outbreak.

Michel Merchan, 45, was arrested Wednesday on charges of grand theft and grand theft of emergency medical equipment, an arrest report said.

According to the report, Merchan was caught on surveillance camera taking 960 disposable N95 respirator masks from a shipment sent to the city for essential employees and first responders.

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The surveillance footage showed Merchan walking out of Doral City Hall carrying the boxes of masks and putting them in his city work vehicle, the report said. The total value of the masks is $1,510, the report said.

On Friday, the city became aware of a shortage of masks and reached out to Merchan to ask if he knew about the masks, but he denied knowing anything about the missing masks, the report said.

When investigators went to Merchan's home, Merchan's fiance gave them 100 masks of the same make and model that went missing, and Merchan was arrested, the report said.

"The defendant abused his position as an essential employee during a state of emergency to steal N95 masks which are in high demand at this time," the arrest report noted.

Merchan was booked into jail, where he was being held on $12,500 bond Thursday, records showed. Attorney information wasn't available.

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