Two US nurses have been accused of forging Covid-19 vaccination cards and pocketing more than 1.5 million dollars (£1.1 million) from the scheme, prosecutors and police said.
Julie DeVuono, the owner of Wild Child Paediatric Healthcare in Amityville, Long Island, New York state, and her employee, Marissa Urraro, are both charged with felony forgery.
DeVuono also is charged with offering a false instrument for filing.
Urraro’s lawyer, Michael Alber, urged people not to rush to judgment about the allegations and said his client is a well-respected nurse.
“We look forward to highlighting the legal impediments and defects of the investigation,” he 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.”
Suffolk County district attorney Raymond Tierney claimed DeVuono and Urraro handed out fake vaccination cards, charging 220 dollars (£164) for adults and 85 dollars (£63) for children.
The prosecutor claimed DeVuono, a nurse practitioner, and Urraro, a licensed practical nurse, entered the false information into the state’s immunisation database.
He also alleged the nurses forged a fake card showing a vaccine was given to an undercover detective, without administering the vaccine to the detective.
Law enforcement officers searched DeVuono’s home and said they seized about 900,000 dollars (£671,000) in cash and a ledger showing profits of more than 1.5 million dollars from the scheme, which began in November 2021.
“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,” Mr Tierney said.
Suffolk County Police Commissioner Rodney Harrison added: “As nurses, these two individuals should understand the importance of legitimate vaccination cards as we all work together to protect public health.”