Former Pitt employee indicted, accused of stealing, selling N95 masks

Christopher+Casamento%2C+Pitt%E2%80%99s+ex-emergency+management+director+was+indicted+Wednesday+afternoon.+Casamento+has+been+accused+of+stealing+and+selling+13%2C500+masks+and+other+PPE+from+the+University%E2%80%99s+PPE+supply+for+personal+profit+between+Feb.+28+and+March+22%2C+2020.+

Wu Caiyi | Senior Staff Photographer

Christopher Casamento, Pitt’s ex-emergency management director was indicted Wednesday afternoon. Casamento has been accused of stealing and selling 13,500 masks and other PPE from the University’s PPE supply for personal profit between Feb. 28 and March 22, 2020.

By Ashton Crawley, Assistant News Editor

A federal grand jury indicted Christopher Casamento, Pitt’s ex-emergency management director, Wednesday afternoon.

Casamento has been accused of stealing and selling 13,615 masks, mainly Aura N95 respirator masks, surgical masks and particulate respirator masks, from the University’s PPE supply for personal profit between Feb. 28, 2020, and March 22, 2020.

FBI Pittsburgh Special Agent in Charge Michael Christman said Casamento’s actions are very upsetting.

“Mr. Casamento had an obligation to make sure there was enough PPE to keep students and staff at the University of Pittsburgh safe,” Christman said. “Instead, he chose to line his pockets. The allegations set forth today are upsetting. With so much widespread suffering in our communities due to COVID, having this vital equipment taken away from people is unfortunate.”

Casamento made nearly $19,000 from selling the PPE on his eBay page, called Steel City Motor Toys, FBI investigators said.

A grand jury has indicted Casamento on federal charges of interstate transportation of stolen property, according to the U.S. attorney’s office.

The University fired Casamento last July after completing its own internal investigation. If Casamento is convicted, he could face up to 10 years in prison.

A Pitt spokesperson said federal and state law enforcement officials notified Pitt of an investigation into misappropriation of the University’s personal protective equipment supplies during February and March 2020. They added that the University is seeking restitution for the misappropriated supplies from Casamento.

“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,” the spokesperson said. “Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the University of Pittsburgh has maintained an adequate stockpile of PPE sufficient to meet the needs of the University community. Fulfilment of requests for personal protective equipment were not impacted as a result of the misappropriation.”

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