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Homeless man posed as CDC employee to steal COVID-19 sample, court docs say

KCRA Sacramento logo KCRA Sacramento 4/17/2020
a group of people standing next to a fence: Shaun Moore © Provided by KCRA Sacramento Shaun Moore

The man accused of stealing a coronavirus test sample from Sutter Davis Hospital allegedly impersonated a CDC employee to obtain the specimen, according to court documents obtained by KCRA.

According to a motion to deny bail filed by the Yolo County District Attorney’s Office, Shaun Moore walked into the hospital posing as a “federal employee from the Center for Disease Control” and gave staff his real name. Moore allegedly said “he was there to pick up a sample of the COVID-19 virus.”

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It just so happens that the hospital was expecting a courier that day from the California Department of Public Health to pick up a coronavirus sample. According to court documents, hospital staff thought Moore was that courier and gave the sample to him. They later got suspicious when they noticed he “left the area on a bicycle.” The staff’s suspicion was confirmed when “the actual courier arrived a few minutes later.”

Police said someone found the COVID-19 sample in a CVS shopping cart nearly five hours later. The specimen was untampered, according to the Sutter Lab.

Sutter Health did not comment about security polices and instead released this statement:

“We take this situation very seriously. We are conducting our own internal investigation, as well as working closely with county officials and law enforcement on the matter."

A Davis police officer arrested Moore the next day after spotting him riding a bike. But now, Moore is back on the streets.

On Wednesday, the DA’s Office filed a motion to deny bail despite the statewide zero-bail ruling. Prosecutors argued that Moore poses a great risk to public safety considering he allegedly “posed as a federal employee, managed to gain access to a biological sample containing a potential prolific contagion, and after obtaining custody of that sample, left it unattended in a public place, further risking exposure to the Davis community.”

Moore's public defender, Richard Van Zandt, called the no bail request an extraordinary step that can only be met under the California Constitution for particular charges like felonies involving violence and sexual assault.

The judge sided with Moore's defense and Van Zandt said in a statement: "Judge Rosenberg’s decision yesterday recognizes the fact that Mr. Moore, who is presumed innocent of all charges, does not pose a threat to the public."

Van Zandt added: "We are pleased that the Judicial Council of California has taken the position that the greatest risk to the public safety of all Californians at this stage is to keep in jail and prison only those individuals who pose a significant public safety risk to the public at large."

The judge decided to release Moore on “supervised own recognizance” with the following conditions: Moore must stay 100 yards away from Sutter Davis Hospital unless he has a medical situation, be supervised by probation and wear a GPS device.

In the documents, prosecutors also expressed concerns about the likelihood that Moore would not appear at his next court date scheduled for May 27, saying that he is homeless, suffers mental health issues and has a criminal history that includes theft, DUI and stolen vehicle convictions.

Police said hospital staff contacted the patient whose coronavirus sample was stolen and administered a new test.

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