Arizona TB Patient Faces Felony Charges

Robert Daniels, isolated TB patient CBS

A man with a virulent form of tuberculosis who once was confined to a hospital jail ward for failing to wear a mask in public has been indicted on felony charges.

Prosecutors said Monday there was no evidence that Robert Daniels had exposed anyone to his multiple drug-resistant TB before he was quarantined in 2006, but they still charged him with two counts of unlawful introduction of disease or parasite.

County officials have been putting together a case to prove Daniels knowingly introduced a disease into the state, endangering others.

"We took our time looking at the evidence to make sure the evidence fit the crime," said Sally Wells of the Maricopa County attorney's office.

Daniels, who has American and Russian citizenship, was determined no longer to be contagious after undergoing lung surgery at a Denver hospital in September. He has been living in Russia since October.

Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio said Russian authorities did not know Daniels' exact whereabouts on Monday but were looking for him.

"If he does come here, he'll be arrested on these criminal violations," the sheriff said.

In an interview with The Arizona Republic Monday, Daniels said the case demonstrates that the sheriff is a vindictive man.

"You've got to be kidding me," Daniels said. "They don't really have evidence. They can't accuse me of anything unless there's a person who got the disease from me."

Daniels said he has recovered fully in Moscow. "The TB is gone. I have no diseases whatsoever. If I had stayed in Arizona even a month longer, I'd probably be dead," Daniels said.

A call to the sheriff's office Monday night seeking comment on Daniels' whereabouts was not returned.

A phone message left for Daniels' last known lawyer was not returned.

Daniels lived in Russia for 15 years and returned to the United States in 2006 after doctors discovered he had a difficult-to-treat form of tuberculosis.

He said he briefly worked in an office in Arizona for a chemical company before he was put away.

"Where I come from, the doctors don't wear masks," he told The Associated Press last year. "Plus, I was 26 years old, you know. Nobody told me how TB works and stuff."

In August 2006, a judge ruled Daniels recklessly exposed others to his illness by going out in public without a mask. Even though he was not charged with a crime at the time, he was placed in solitary confinement and spent nearly a year in the jail ward at Maricopa Medical Center in Phoenix.

While in custody for nearly a year, he was treated as an inmate, confined in isolation and kept under video surveillance most of the time. Daniels was not given a phone, shower, television or other comforts.

He then underwent lung surgery at a Denver hospital and moved back to Russia.

Atlanta attorney Andrew Speaker, who caused an international health scare in May after he flew to Europe knowing he had a drug-resistant form of tuberculosis, was treated at the same Denver hospital where Daniels underwent surgery.

Speaker was initially thought to have extensively drug-resistant tuberculosis; later tests found he had the less dangerous multidrug-resistant TB.
  • CBSNews

Comments