A nurse at a Veterans Affairs hospital in Michigan has been charged with stealing and selling Covid-19 vaccination cards.
According to court records, Bethann Kierczak, 37, was responsible for administering vaccination doses and had access to immunization records at her hospital in Southgate, Michigan.
Kierczak is also charged with theft of vaccine lot numbers necessary to make the cards appear legitimate.
According to the criminal complaint, Kierczak operated her alleged scheme for more than four months, selling the cards for $150 to $200 each via Facebook Messenger.
In one interaction on 3 June, a person identified in court records only as a “confidential source” requested a card for a man who the source said would be allowed to visit his children only if he had proof of vaccination.
“Can you get me just ONE of them damn vaccination cards,” the source wrote.
Kierczak agreed and asked for the source’s name and date of birth, in order to fill out the card.
“Tell him I charge $150 for these, so he owes you a favor,” Kierczak allegedly wrote, along with a laughing emoji.
On 12 August, Michigan police and the Department of Veterans Affairs notified federal authorities of a tip concerning Kierczak. Further investigation found that Kierczak offered to give a commission for help selling the cards.
Kierczak was arrested on 29 September. Released on bond, she is due back in court this month.
“Regardless of whether an individual chooses to get vaccinated, we urge everyone to avoid turning to schemes like these to evade vaccination requirements,” said Saima Mohsin, acting US attorney for the eastern district of Michigan.
“Selling these cards is a crime.”
Gavin McClaren, an acting special agent with the VA Office of Inspector General, said: “VA’s Covid-19 safety protocols, including ensuring accurate vaccination records, exist to keep both veterans and VA healthcare workers safe during this global pandemic.”
The criminal complaint also charged Rapheal Smiley, 32, of Detroit with fraud involving department or agency seals, identity document fraud, and trafficking in counterfeit goods.
According to the complaint, Smiley was responsible for orchestrating a scheme to import and sell fake vaccination cards from fraudulent shippers in China, advertising them on Facebook and Instagram.