LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — A former pharmacy technician was sentenced to four days in jail and three years of probation after pleading no contest to stealing anti-malaria medication that had been touted by President Donald Trump as a potential treatment for COVID-19.
Christopher Mencias Agustin, 35, of Torrance, pleaded no contest Wednesday to a felony count each of receiving stolen property exceeding $950 and sale/offer to sell or transport a controlled substance, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office said.
Agustin was immediately sentenced to four days in county jail and placed on formal probation for three years. He will also be required to perform 240 hours of community service and may not work at a pharmacy while on probation.
Prosecutors say Agustin had entered Harbor-UCLA Medical Center, where he worked as a pharmacy technician, to steal the drugs in March. More than 700 tablets of hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin, which are used to treat malaria, were taken. The estimated total value of the tablets is about $6,700, according to prosecutors.
Hydroxychloroquine was touted as a way to treat COVID-19, and the president said he took a two-week course of the medication as a preventative in May. However, the FDA revoked the emergency use authorization of hydroxychloroquine as a COVID-19 treatment in June and in July reported serious heart rhythm problems, blood and lymph system disorders, kidney injuries, and liver problems and failure associated with its use for COVID-19 patients.