A former top health official responsible for introducing vaccines in Tennessee was accused of sending himself a threatening package from Amazon with a muzzle for dogs.
Dr. Michelle Fiscus vehemently denied the allegations – with good reason, new evidence suggests.
The Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security, charged with investigating the muzzle, previously found that it was purchased with an American Express card on behalf of Fiscus.
However, an Amazon spokesperson confirmed in a statement to McClatchy News Thursday that an unauthorized person opened an account with Dr. Fiscus registered. That fraudulent account was then used to buy the muzzle, the spokesman said.
Fiscus is the former medical director for the Tennessee Department of Health. she was released in July After Republican lawmakers complained about their approach to vaccinating teenagers against COVID-19, the Associated Press reported.
In the days that followed, Fiscus appeared on national news outlets such as CNN and NBC News denounce her resignation as politically motivated and revealed that someone had threatened her with a silicone dog muzzle before she was fired.
â€œThey obviously didn’t know me because they sent me a size 3 that’s for Beagles and I am obviously a pit bullwhich requires a size of six, â€she told CNN.
A month later, Fiscus hit the headlines again when state officials released the results of their muzzle investigation. According to a memorandum detailing their findings, there were two Amazon accounts on behalf of Fiscus – one they showed investigators and a second created in March 2021 to buy the muzzle.
Both listed the same Amex card, and investigators concluded that â€œthere was no evidence that the dog’s muzzle was Dr. Fiscus should threaten â€.
Fiscus denied buying the muzzle in a series of tweets, saying she was the one who did asked Homeland Security to investigate and that a second Amazon account appears to have been created on their behalf.
“No, I didn’t send it to me,” she said.
Fiscus has since sued the Tennessee Department of Health Commissioner and Chief Medical Officer for defamation, sometimes citing statements they made about their dismissal and the results of the orifice exam.
Lawyers representing Fiscus said in the lawsuit that they lost and canceled the Amex card more than a year before the muzzle was purchased.
“Unidentified actors mailed Dr. Fiscus the muzzle strategically to create the appearance that Dr. Fiscus ordered, paid for, and mailed the muzzle to himself,” their lawyers said.
WSMV reported that it received a screenshot of conversations between Fiscus and an American Express representative showing the Amex card was reported as lost and was closed in 2020.
Metro Nashville police are investigating who sent the package, according to the lawsuit.
“The muzzle controversy was another attempt to discredit Dr. Fiscus and slander her reputation,” her lawyers said.
Fiscus and their attorneys did not immediately respond to McClatchy News’ request for comment Thursday.
A health department spokesman declined to comment on pending litigation, and a spokesman for the Tennessee Office of Homeland Security said his previous investigation was ongoing. He also confirmed that there is an open criminal investigation by the Nashville Police Department.