It was clear that something was wrong with the "doctor's note" submitted by St. Louis metro officer Ronald Vaughan. For one thing, it was too big.
"Where he made his mistake," recalled Amy Ward in an interview with the RFT
, "is that it's supposed to be a small note, and he blew it up really big and crooked. He did it really messy."
Ward works as the public relations supervisor at Metro Cardiovascular Inc., a Florissant health clinic where Vaughan had once been a patient. On Thursday, the 34-year-old cop was charged with felony forgery in connection to his alleged attempts to fabricate a doctor's note.
According to charging documents, which were first reported on Monday by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch
, Vaughan's scheme began December 1 when he notified the department's workers compensation specialist that he had to quarantine for the next two weeks while undergoing medical care.
However, when asked to produce a doctor's note, the result sparked suspicion: The note showed areas "blocked out in white, as if they had been pasted over an old note, and did not match the rest of the letter," according to the charges.
The department's investigators pursued the suspicions to the clinic, where they interviewed staff and showed them the supposed note issued to Vaughan. According to Ward, not only was the note the wrong size — she says that that the clinic's notes intended for patients' employers are written out on small pads, not full-sized sheets — but it appeared he had produced the new note by altering previously issued paperwork authorizing his release from the clinic.
"We kept looking at the note, like, 'This looks familiar,'" she said. "He was a patient of ours, but we couldn't verify any of the information that he had. He altered the paperwork. We were not involved."
Vaughan has a complicated history as a cop. In 2013, a judge tossed evidence submitted by Vaughan
in a drug case after defense attorneys submitted a video that they said proved the officer had planted a plastic baggie after a traffic stop. In 2015, Vaughan was one of two officers who opened fire on Mansur Ball-Bey
, killing the Black teenager and sparking protests.
More recently, in 2017, Vaughan's testimony supported city prosecutors charging Rev. Darryl Gray, whom officers tackled and pepper sprayed during a September 29, 2017 protest near Busch Stadium. Vaughan's version of events
was not backed up in video of the incident, while Gray's attorney later called the cop's testimony "an insane description" and "utterly illogical."
Follow Danny Wicentowski on Twitter at @D_Towski. E-mail the author at Danny.Wicentowski@RiverfrontTimes.com
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