82 New York City teachers accused of buying fake COVID vaccine cards deny charges, union up

Dozens of New York City teachers who have been accused of purchasing fake COVID-19 vaccine cards in an alleged scheme are denying they bought fraudulent cards, insisting they are valid.

Eighty-two teachers have been accused of scamming the school system in New York in a $1.5 million scheme allegedly run by a Long Island pediatric center, according to the New York Post. The troubles for the teachers started in April as New York Mayor Eric Adams set out to apparently make examples of them.

The teachers, who have since unioned up, claim they got their COVID vaccines through Wild Child Pediatric Healthcare in Amityville. The center is known for holistic and natural remedies.

The alleged scam was conceived during the pandemic as heavy-handed vaccine mandates were implemented in New York. The Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office is charging that two nurses sold fake vaccine cards to hundreds of customers. They ostensibly charged $220 for each dose marked on the card which amounted to $440 for two required shots. Children were reportedly charged $85 for a card.

(Video Credit: CBS New York)

The center is owned and operated by nurse practitioner Julie DeVuono. She is also accused of fraudulently listing clients as vaccinated in the New York State Immunization Information System, which is a felony.

Three Queens teachers involved in the scandal spoke with the New York Post anonymously concerning the charges. Each of them denied paying for fake vaccine cards. They insisted they got their shots and their cards are valid.

The vaccination cards allegedly show the CDC emblem and list Pfizer lot numbers for each vaccination given.

The teachers admitted to paying the outlandish fees that are attributed to the fake cards. But they claim the charges were for a “detox” treatment that was given to offset any adverse effects from the vaccine.

“We paid for the detox protocol. We did not pay for the vaccination itself or the card,” an elementary teacher who works with students with severe disabilities told the New York Post. “It helped detox my body from all the unnecessary stuff in that shot.”

The teacher feared what the vaccine might do to her because of an underlying autoimmune disorder. It’s unknown what the detox treatment consisted of but pills were administered.

“She just told me that it would help detox my body and I trusted her,” one teacher asserted in reference to DeVuono, who has also treated her six-year-old son for years.

“She tries holistic approaches before giving medications so when my son had an ear infection, she’s like, ‘Okay, it’s not that bad. Let’s try garlic oil first,” another teacher said in reference to DeVuono.

“I’m being lumped in with what other people did, having nothing to do with me,” another teacher claimed.

The teachers who are being accused of involvement in the scam have been banned from teaching. Teachers in New York are required to be fully vaccinated against COVID in order to keep their jobs unless they are given a medical or religious exemption. Approximately 1,000 Department of Education employees have been terminated for failing to comply with the mandate.

All 82 teachers have been suspended without pay since April 25. Their union, the UFT, has filed a notice that it intends to sue the Department of Education on behalf of the accused teachers.

Marissa Urraro, who is a licensed practical nurse, and Brooke Hogan, a receptionist at the clinic, were also charged with taking part in the scam. They have all lawyered up and are pleading not guilty.

Police tossed DeVuono’s house and reportedly found $900,000 in cash and a ledger that allegedly shows over $1.5 million in receipts from November 2021 through January 2022.

DeVuono’s husband is an NYPD officer. He was placed on modified duty, requiring him to surrender his firearm, shield, and ID and take non-enforcement assignments.

The Suffolk County DA claims that the scam was exposed when they sent in an undercover detective to the clinic where they paid for a vaccine card without getting immunized.

Betsy Combier, who is a paralegal that is helping defend the accused teachers, commented, “No facts available show fraud on their part.”

She slammed the DOE for banning the educators without a hearing or due process, “This is a blatant example of the department’s pattern and practice to find guilt first, and innocence second.”

“The New York State Department of Health’s Vaccination Complaint Investigations Team continues to work closely with the Suffolk County DA’s Office and other law enforcement to actively investigate and prosecute to the full extent of the law anyone who created, distributed, purchased, or used fraudulent proof of COVID-19 vaccination from Wild Child Pediatrics,” state health department spokesman Jeffrey Hammond said.

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