The former director of emergency management at the University of Pittsburgh stole 13,600 N95 respirators and face masks intended for employees and students, then sold them for an $18,000 profit last year.
According to a federal indictment on Tuesday, Christopher D. Casamento made approximately $18,783.50 between Feb. 28 and March 22 of 2020. Casamento listed the taxpayer-subsidized masks on eBay.
“At the start of the pandemic, when supplies of PPE were low and nationwide demand was intense, Mr. Casamento used his position of trust and access to critical PPE to enrich himself at the expense of Pitt students and faculty,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Stephen R. Kaufman.
“Too often the academic elite get a pass when it comes to their transgressions. It is nice to see this instance of the university cooperating with law enforcement to hold one of their own accountable for such a self-serving crime,” said Corey Barsky, a spokesman for the school’s College Republicans.
— FBI Pittsburgh (@FBIPittsburgh) March 24, 2021
On July 17, the school terminated Casamento after realizing that he had “misappropriated” the equipment. Casamento had worked at the institution since 2007.
The director “had an obligation to make sure there was enough PPE to keep students and staff at the University of Pittsburgh safe,” Pittsburgh Special Agent Michael Christman at the Federal Bureau of Investigations said, who is in charge of the investigation. “Instead, he chose to line his pockets.”
Casamento has been charged with interstate transportation of stolen property. A spokesman for the University of Pittsburgh provided the following statement to The Federalist.
In early July, federal and state law enforcement officials notified the University of Pittsburgh of an investigation into misappropriation of the University’s personal protective equipment supplies during February and March of 2020. The University fully cooperated with the FBI investigation, and Pitt’s internal review revealed Chris Casamento, who was then the University’s director of emergency management, misappropriated personal protective equipment from Pitt’s pandemic supplies. Mr. Casamento’s duties included distributing personal protective equipment designated for essential employees. Upon his admission of the misconduct and completion of our review, Casamento’s employment was terminated effective July 17, 2020. He had been with the University since 2007.
State Rep. Rob Mercuri of Allegheny County told The Federalist it is “disappointing to see a university official exploit their position by selling supplies intended to help facilitate the return to safe in-person instruction all for personal gain.”
A similar story came out of New York in May, when a pharmacist known as the “Mask Man” allegedly profited $50,000 selling N-95 masks to customers in eight states. The pharmacist, Richard Schirripa, was charged with hoarding and price gouging, pursuant to the Defense Production Act.