Michael Lane Brandin, a 23-year-old man from Tyler Country is now facing charges for posting on his Facebook profile that he had tested positive for coronavirus infection.
In his post, Brandin also claimed that he was informed by a medical practitioner in Tyler Country that the deadly virus has now become airborne.
According to him, his post was meant to be a social experiment to tell people not to believe everything they read online.
Unfortunately for Brandin, his social experiment backfired as his posts resulted in a barrage of emergency calls to local law enforcement, medical and emergency management authorities in East Texas.
Reacting to the “experiment”, Tyler County sheriff’s deputies tried to verify with Brandin and realized soon enough that the man was a prankster accused of taking advantage of the panic about the coronavirus.
Brandin’s post earned the ire of Tyler County District Attorney Lucas Bain who then lash out on Facebook and warned Brandin and people like him that knowingly communicating, initiating, or circulating a false report/false alarm on COVID-19 that is false or baseless is a criminal offense in the state of Texas.
Since Brandin’s post created a huge controversy and panic that disrupted government, Tyler County Judge Jacques Blanchette issued an arrest warrant and a few hours later Brandin willingly surrendered. He was charged with making a false alarm.
In a statement, Tyler County Sheriff’s Department drew attention to the following:
Texas Penal Code 42.06 – False alarm or report states a person commits an offense if the person knowingly communicates a report of an emergency that he knows is false or baseless and that would ordinarily cause action by an official or volunteer agency organized to deal with emergencies.
If found guilty and charged with Class A Misdemeanor, Brandin will have to pay the fine of $4,000 and/or serve one year in jail.
The State of Texas currently has more than 200 confirmed cases of COVID-19.