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Man making false COVID-19 claim in Driscoll charged

Posted at 1:20 AM, May 06, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-06 02:20:05-04

Action 10 News has learned the identity of a Rio Grande Valley man accused of telling the Driscoll Police Department he had COVID-19 following a March traffic stop.

A Pharr man, 23-year-old Joe Rolando Elizalde, is charged with making a false alarm or report.

Driscoll Police Chief Mike Cantu pulled over Elizalde on Highway 77 on March 30.

Cantu said Elizalde was driving with a suspended Driver’s License and without insurance.

The next day, Cantu said he received this voicemail from Elizalde.

“Just wanted to inform you guys that I got my results back from the coronavirus,” the message said. “It came back positive.”

Cantu notified city officials, and Driscoll City Hall immediately was shut down.

He also notified Nueces Co. District Attorney Mark A. Gonzalez, who assigned the case to investigator Mike Tamez.

Tamez said while questioning Elizalde, he admitted he lied.

"He kept trying to perpetuate the lie, so I threw a few obvious questions at him that would rule behavior, and finally came clean that he's never tested for it, and he doesn't have it,” Tamez said.

Tamez and a nurse drove to McAllen to test Elizalde for COVID-19. The test came back negative.

Making a false claim or report is a state jail felony, punishable by up to two years behind bars, and a fine up to $10,000 due to interruption of a public service to a government building.

The next step in this case is for the district attorney’s office to issue an arrest warrant for Elizalde, and have him appear in court for a plea.