Two New York nurses are accused of selling forged COVID-19 vaccination cards and entering false information into the state’s immunization database, allegedly netting them more than $1.5 million.
Julie DeVuono and Marissa Urrao of Long Island were arrested last week after allegedly charging clients $220 for an adult vaccination card and $85 for a child’s, through DeVuono’s health care practice where Urrao was employed, the Suffolk County Police Department said Friday.
DeVuono obtained blank vaccine cards through her business, Wild Child Pediatric Healthcare in Amityville, as well as COVID vaccine doses and syringes, the New York Daily News reported, citing the Suffolk County District Attorney’s office.
Undercover detectives visited the business and obtained vaccine cards but were never given a vaccine, prosecutors said.
A search of DeVuonos’ home on Thursday recovered $900,000 in cash and a ledger indicating that the pair had made more than $1.5 million through the vaccine scheme since November, according to the prosecutor’s office.
“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 K. Harrison said in a statement announcing their arrests.
Both women were charged with one second-degree count of forgery, while DeVuono was also charged with an additional first-degree count of offering a false instrument for filing.
DeVuono’s husband, Derin DeVuono, is a New York City Police Department officer who is now facing an NYPD internal affairs investigation for any involvement he may have had in the alleged scheme. Some of the cash found at DeVuono’s home was reportedly found in NYPD-issued bags, the Daily News reported.
Urrao’s attorney, Michael Alber, urged the public to not rush to judgment.
“We look forward to highlighting the legal impediments and defects in this investigation. An accusation should not overshadow the good work Ms. Urraro has done for children and adults in the medical field,” he said in a statement to HuffPost. An attorney for DeVuonos could not be immediately reached.
A representative for Wild Child Pediatric Healthcare did not immediately respond to HuffPost’s request for comment on Sunday. A message posted on the business’s Facebook page on Friday thanked its supporters and asked for prayers during “this difficult time.”
Last month, New York Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) signed a bill that makes it illegal to falsify COVID-19 vaccination cards or to use a fake one.