Nurse pleads guilty in COVID-19 vaccination card fraud in Metro Detroit
A registered nurse in Metro Detroit has pleaded guilty in connection with selling COVID-19 vaccination cards, the U.S. Attorney's Office announced Friday.
Bethann Kierczak, 37, of Southgate, entered the plea Thursday before U.S. District Court Judge David Lawson, records show.
She was charged last year with theft of government funds.
According to the federal complaint, Kierczak stole authentic vaccination record cards from the John D. Dingell VA Medical Center in Detroit where she worked as well as vaccine lot numbers necessary to make them appear legitimate.
Kierczak started selling the cards to people throughout Metro Detroit as early as May 2021 and continued through September, investigators reported.
An attorney listed as representing Kierczak did not immediately respond to a request for comment Friday night.
She sold the cards for $150 to $200 each and communicated with buyers primarily through Facebook Messenger, the U.S. Attorney's Office said in a statement Friday.
An investigation started with a tip from an informant who said Kierczak was selling the cards via Facebook Messenger. One message suggested she acquired the cards from a pharmacy.
“The defendant abused her position of trust as a medical provider to line her own pockets and sell fraudulent COVID-19 vaccination cards,” U.S. Attorney Dawn Ison said.
“My office is committed to protecting the citizens of Michigan from individuals who used the global pandemic as an opportunity to commit fraud as evidenced by this case and many other prosecutions we have brought against those that have used this national crisis as an opportunity to commit crimes.”
Sentencing is scheduled for Oct. 13.
The investigation was conducted by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs-Office of Inspector General, VA Police Detroit and the Medicare Fraud Strike Force partners, a partnership among the Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney’s Offices, and U.S. Health and Human Services-Office of Inspector General.
The case followed the U.S. Attorney General last year launching the COVID-19 Fraud Enforcement Task Force.
“Stealing and selling fraudulent COVID-19 vaccination cards threatens the safety of VA medical center patients and employees as well as the general public,” said Special Agent in Charge Gregory Billingsley with the Department of Veterans Affairs Office of Inspector General’s Central Field Office.