Two New York-based healthcare workers were arrested for allegedly forging and selling thousands of COVID-19 vaccine cards, officials said.
The Suffolk County Police Department on Long Island said on Jan. 28 that it arrested Julie DeVuono, 49, and Marissa Urraro, 44, for allegedly selling fake vaccine cards and entering that information into the New York State Immunization Information System. Both were charged with one count of forgery in the second degree, while DeVuono faces the additional charge of offering a false instrument for filing.
“As nurses, these two individuals should understand the importance of legitimate vaccination cards as we all work together to protect public health,” Suffolk County Police Commissioner Rodney Harrison said in a statement.
Suffolk County District Attorney Raymond Tierney told news outlets that DeVuono, who owned Wild Child Pediatric Healthcare in Amityville, and Urraro provided fake vaccination cards. They charged $220 for adults and $85 for children, he said.
But prosecutors said that a fake vaccine card showing a vaccine was handed to an undercover detective. They never administered the vaccine to the detective, prosecutors said, according to The Associated Press.
When law enforcement officials searched DeVuono’s home, they discovered about $900,000 in cash and a ledger showing profits of $1.5 million from the alleged scheme, prosecutors told AP.
“I hope this sends a message to others who are considering gaming the system that they will get caught and that we will enforce the law to the fullest extent,” Tierney said in a statement.
Michael Alber, Urraro’s lawyer, told outlets over the weekend that Urraro is a well-respected nurse and said the public shouldn’t form judgments.
“We look forward to highlighting the legal impediments and defects of the investigation,” Alber said. “It’s our hope that an accusation definitely doesn’t overshadow the good work Miss Urraro’s done for children and adults in the medical field.”
Messages seeking comment were left by AP reporters on Saturday with their lawyers.
The arrests come just days after a New York couple was arrested and charged for allegedly using fake COVID-19 vaccine cards to enter a Buffalo Bills game in early January.
Michael Nabb, 34, and Amber Nabb, 37, attended the Jan. 15 game against the New England Patriots in Highmark Stadium. They were later questioned by team officials and law enforcement during the third quarter of the game, said Erie County District Attorney John Flynn on Wednesday in a news conference.
Nabb said the two were on prosecutors’ radar because they had allegedly made social media posts claiming they used fake vaccine cards to enter games.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.