A man was charged in the Seattle District Court on June 17 for stealing CCP virus-related medical supplies from the Veterans Affairs Medical Center (VAMC) and for selling them on eBay.
Gene Wamsley, 41 from Bonney Lake, Washington was charged for theft of government property for stealing three bronchoscopes, five ventilators, and a variety of other respiratory support equipment, according to a Department of Justice release.
He made his appearance on the criminal complaint in Seattle on Wednesday.
U.S. Attorney’s Office, Western District of Washington said Wamsley was employed as a respiratory therapist at VAMC until June 9, when he was placed on leave.
“Right now respiratory support equipment is critical in medical care for those suffering with COVID-19 infections. To steal and sell equipment needed to care for our veterans is a shocking betrayal,” said U.S. Attorney Brian T. Moran in the statement.
The investigation into the case began when VAMC found two bronchoscopes missing in January. A third bronchoscope was reported missing in April.
VAMC staff have found bronchoscopes for sale on eBay from someone in Bonney Lake—on further investigation they found them to be sold by Wamsley.
Further investigations into his eBay records showed that he sold five ventilators in March and April 2020. VAMC found three ventilators missing from the hospital at the same time.
Administrators at VAMC confirmed various other missing respiratory support equipment found in Wamsley’s eBay records.
Investigators found medical supplies and eBay records from Wamsley’s home on June 9 after a search warrant was issued against him.
Wamsley could face up to ten years in prison for theft of government property.
FBI’s COVID-19 Working Group
As the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus pandemic happened, the risk of fraud schemes related to it also started arising and the FBI established a COVID-19 Working Group consisting of representatives from all 56 FBI field offices and 500 participants from the Department of Justice.
The work of this group is to combat criminals operating during the pandemic crisis.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has only served to increase the number of stimulus, healthcare, bank, elder, and government fraud schemes,” Calvin A. Shivers, assistant director, Criminal Investigative Division said in a statement before the Senate Judiciary Committee on June 9.
Shivers listed a variety of frauds including the health care fraud schemes and said that the FBI is engaged in various efforts to prevent these frauds.
“Legitimate medical professionals and scientists throughout the U.S. are working hard to find a cure, approved treatment, and vaccine for COVID-19. Unfortunately, bad actors are selling fraudulent COVID-19 test kits and unapproved treatments through telemarketing calls, social media platforms, and door-to-door visits at the same time,” said Shivers.