Two nurses on New York's Long Island allegedly forged Covid-19 vaccination cards and entered the false shots in the state's database in a scheme that raked in over $1.5 million, according to prosecutors.
Julie DeVuono, 49, the owner and operator of Wild Child Pediatric Healthcare in Amityville, and her employee Marissa Urraro, 44, were arrested Thursday, the Suffolk County District Attorney’s office said Friday in a news release.
Both women were charged with one count of second-degree forgery. DeVuono was also charged with first-degree offering a false instrument for filing, according to the release.
DeVuono, a nurse practitioner, and Urraro, a licensed practical nurse, received Covid-19 vaccines, vaccination cards and medical syringes from the New York State Department of Health, prosecutors said.
They allegedly forged the official cards to indicate a vaccine was given to an undercover detective on one or more occasion even though they never received the shot. DeVuono and Urraro are also accused of entering the false information into the New York State Immunization Information System (NYSIIS) database.
They charged $220 for adults and $85 for children for the false vaccination cards, prosecutors said.
Law enforcement officers seized $900,000 during a search of DeVuono's home as well as a ledger that documented their profits in excess of $1.5 million from November 2021 to January 2022, according to the news release.
DeVuono's attorney, Barry Mark Smolowitz, told NBC News on Monday morning that his client was arraigned Friday morning along with her employee. Both entered a plea of not guilty.
He said he hasn’t been given more than the complaint in the case. “We’re looking further into this,” he said.
Urraro's attorney, Michael J. Alber, said, "An accusation should not overshadow the good work Ms. Urraro has done for children and adults in the medical field.”
“In today’s uncertain times courts are issuing rulings regarding the Government overstepping their limits. Because of this, now more than ever, it is so important that there is no rush to judgment in forming an opinion against a respected LPN (licensed practical nurse). We look forward to highlighting the legal impediments and defects in this investigation," he added.
Suffolk County District Attorney Raymond A. Tierney said in a statement, “These individuals allegedly used their positions as licensed healthcare professionals to engage in criminal conduct for their financial benefit.”
“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," he added.
The scheme was uncovered by members of the Suffolk County Police Department’s DA squad assigned to Tierney’s office with assistance from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the New York State Department of Health.