T.J. Smith -- the police chief of Oakboro Town, North Carolina -- violated policies including, fraud, willful acts that endanger the property of others and serving a conflicting interest when he allegedly told officers about the scheme, according to a letter addressed to him from Town Administrator Doug Burgess.
The vaccine fraud accusations come as the Omicron variant
is spreading rapidly both in the US and worldwide. Full vaccination as well as boosters provide the best protection against the highly contagious variant that has been alarming health officials amid the holiday season.
Dr. Mandy Cohen, the secretary of the state's Department of Health and Human Services, said earlier this week
that North Carolina could see as many as 10,000 Covid-19 cases a day at the peak in January.
The one-page letter -- signed by Burgess and released Tuesday -- says Smith was ordered to go on unpaid leave for two weeks and probation for six months beginning December 21. Smith has the right to appeal, the letter states.
The disciplinary measures came after the town hired Blue Chameleon Investigations to conduct an independent probe into the matter, and the decision was made based on the findings, Burgess told CNN.
Smith, in a statement to the local newspaper, said in part: "To make a long story short, in retrospect, I made a mistake."
Smith told the Stanly News & Press
that a friend called and told him about a mobile vaccination clinic.
"After I got off the phone with that friend, I called two other officers (not in my department) and passed on information about what was described as a 'self-vaccination' clinic," he says in a portion of the statement. "I got one phone call, hung up and made two others. I didn't sit back and digest the information, ruminate on it, or otherwise give it much thought. I just passed it on."
CNN has reached out to Smith for comment.