Reno VA hospital worker accused of 200 surgical mask thefts | NevadaAppeal.com
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Reno VA hospital worker accused of 200 surgical mask thefts

By SCOTT SONNER and MICHELLE L. PRICE Associated Press

RENO — A 35-year-old Reno man accused of stealing 200 surgical masks from the Veterans Administration hospital where he works could face up to a year in federal prison.

Peter Lucas appeared in federal court via video hookup on a charge of theft in connection with health care Wednesday as Nevada’s death toll from the new coronavirus surpassed 70.

Lucas initially told investigators he stole the masks for a friend who works in health care, then claimed he intended to hand them out to the homeless, according to a federal criminal complaint filed Monday.

U.S. prosecutors say surveillance video shows he concealed and left the Reno hospital with a total of four boxes of 50 masks each from his assigned cart on March 19 and March 23.

A U.S. magistrate scheduled a video status conference for April 17. If convicted, Lucas faces up to a year in prison and $100,000 fine. His federal public defender didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

The state reported Wednesday that of the nearly 20,000 people who have been tested, more than 2,200 proved positive for the COVID-19 respiratory disease.