Pitt’s Ex-Emergency Management Director Accused Of Stealing And Selling University’s PPE Supply

The University of Pittsburgh’s former Emergency Management director has been indicted for stealing and selling for his own profit the school’s supply of coronavirus personal protective equipment online; KDKA's Meghan Schiller reports.

Video Transcript

RIYA PATEL: It's just crazy to think that people in power, be doing that with things that are necessary for people to survive during a pandemic.

STACY SMITH: He managed the stockpile, and now federal authorities say the University of Pittsburgh's Director of Emergency Management mismanaged the Department, stealing from the school's supply of coronavirus personal protective equipment. And that is not all. He is also accused of cashing in on the stolen equipment. Good evening, I'm Stacy Smith.

KYM GABLE: And I'm Kym Gable. All of this coming at the expense of students and employees. Investigator Meghan Schiller has been looking into this case today. She joins us live now with the very latest details. Meghan.

MEGHAN SCHILLER: Kym, we are talking about PPE intended for essential employees and students here at the University. But now investigators say the masks, meant to be on the faces of all the students walking behind me-- and we're talking thousands of m were sent thousands of miles away.

He manned the University of Pittsburgh's coronavirus PPE stockpile, but now Christopher Casamento faces an indictment for stealing and selling 13,615 pieces of PPE.

STEVE KAUFMAN: The defendant was the director of Emergency Management at the University of Pittsburgh. Now, that is not a low-level position. He was in a position of trust.

MEGHAN SCHILLER: 13,615 N95 masks, surgical masks, and particulate-respirator masks. Investigators say he stole them from Pitts campus and posted them here on his eBay vendor page, Steel City Motor Toys.

STEVE KAUFMAN: He used eBay to sell these masks all over the United States. And we have the tools we need to get the information from eBay. We take very seriously when someone seeks to profit from a pandemic, which all the rest of us are suffering from.

MEGHAN SCHILLER: Casamento netted nearly $19,000 according to investigators. The FBI said Wednesday, quote, "Mr. Casamento had an obligation to make sure there was enough PPE to keep students and staff at the University of Pittsburgh safe. Instead, he chose to line his pockets."

RIYA PATEL: I think that's crazy that like in times of need that he would be selling them for his own personal profit.

SHRUTHI SETHURAMAN: They send us here to a University where they want us to be fully prepared for anything. They're trusting the University. And when someone of such high power and is supposed to be protecting us is instead just selling things for his own profit, I just don't think that's fair.

MEGHAN SCHILLER: Pitt released a statement Wednesday, saying the feds alerted the school in early July and Casamento admitted to it. The University said it's maintained an adequate PPE stockpile since the beginning saying, quote "fulfillment of the requests for personal protective equipment were not impacted as a result of the misappropriation."

- I've never felt like they've undersupplied us, but it's just disappointing to hear that people are doing things like this in a pandemic.

MEGHAN SCHILLER: And the University says Casamento worked here for more than a decade. He was terminated on July 17th. Now the University says it's in the process of trying to get the money back-- some $20,000 worth of restitution. Reporting live on campus here at the University of Pittsburgh, Meghan Schiller, KDKA News.