Florida men stole ventilators for critically ill Covid-19 patients, feds say


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MIAMI, FLORIDA – Two Miami residents accused of stealing 192 U.S. government-owned medical ventilators worth about three million dollars were indicted on federal charges. According to court documents, the ventilators were heading to a COVID-19 intensive care facility in El Salvador as part of a United States Government COVID-19 aid program when they were stolen in South Florida, while in transit.

The indictment charges Yoelvis Denis Hernandez, a/k/a “Guajiro,” 42, and Luis Urra Montero, a/k/a “Flaco,” 24, with federal conspiracy, possession of stolen goods being shipped interstate, and theft of government property. According to the indictment and other court documents, on August 9, 2020, Hernandez and Montero stole a tractor trailer loaded with 192 medical ventilators, during its transport by truck to Miami International Airport. USAID had acquired the ventilators and was sending them to the Government of El Salvador as part of an aid program to treat critically ill COVID-19 patients there. According to court documents, Hernandez and Montero stole the trailer from a lot where the driver had left it overnight. Following an investigation, law enforcement found most of the stolen ventilators.

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Ariana Fajardo Orshan, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, George L. Piro, Special Agent in Charge, FBI, Miami Field Office, and Ann Calvaresi Barr, Inspector General, United States Agency for International Development, Office of Inspector General (“USAID-OIG”), made the announcement.

FBI, FBI Miami’s Major Theft Task Force, and USAID-OIG investigated this case, with assistance from Boynton Beach Police Department, Miami Dade Police Deparment, Medley Police Department, City of Miami Gardens Police Department, and Broward Sheriff’s Office. Assistant U.S. Attorney Lindsey Lazopoulus Friedman is prosecuting it.

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An indictment is merely a charging document and all defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a resonable doubt in a court of law. Anyone with information about allegations of attempted fraud involving COVID-19 can report it by calling the Department of Justice’s National Center for Disaster Fraud Hotline at 866-720-5721.

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You may find related court documents and information on the website of the District Court for the Southern District of Florida at www.flsd.uscourts.gov or at http://pacer.flsd.uscourts.gov, under case number 20-cr-20252.

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