SALT LAKE CITY - A Utah plastic surgeon and three associates were charged recently with selling fake Covid-19 vaccine cards for US$50 (S$65) apiece in a scheme that lasted more than a year, and during which they destroyed more than US$28,000 worth of the vaccine doses, according to federal prosecutors.
Michael Kirk Moore Jr, a board-certified plastic surgeon in the Salt Lake City area, sold hundreds of cards falsely claiming to be proof of vaccination in exchange for cash payments or donations to an unspecified charity, the US attorney’s office in Utah said.
Under the scheme, Moore and his associates then destroyed the government-issued vaccines, prosecutors said, noting that many child patients were given saline shots instead of vaccine doses at their parents’ request.
Moore and his colleagues sold enough of the falsified vaccine cards to equal 1,937 doses of the vaccine, according to charging documents, which say that the scheme lasted from May 2021 to September 2022.
Moore and three others – Kari Dee Burgoyne, his office manager; Sandra Flores, a receptionist in his office; and Kristin Jackson Andersen, his neighbour – were each indicted on Jan 11 on a charge of conspiracy to defraud the United States, and two other charges.
According to the indictment, Moore was a member of a private organization that aimed to “liberate” the medical profession from government and medical industry intervention.
“By allegedly falsifying vaccine cards and administering saline shots to children instead of Covid-19 vaccines, not only did this provider endanger the health and well-being of a vulnerable population, but also undermined public trust and the integrity of federal health care programs,” Mr Curt L. Muller, special agent in charge with the Department of Health and Human Services, Office of the Inspector General, said in a statement last week.
In the last three years, dozens of people have been prosecuted for Covid-19 vaccine fraud. Cases have included ones involving two nurses on Long Island who were charged with forgery in January 2022 after earning more than US$1.5 million from sales of falsified proofs of vaccination, and a New Jersey mother who was accused in August 2021 of selling more than 250 fake vaccine cards on Instagram.
In the current case involving Moore and his associates, prosecutors intend to seek the forfeiture of the remaining vaccine cards and shots in their possession, and to have them pay a judgment of roughly US$125,000.
The website for Moore’s plastic surgery practice notes his certifications with both the Utah Department of Occupational and Professional Licensing as well as the Idaho Board of Medical Examiners. His medical licences with those two authorities were listed as active on Tuesday, according to the offices’ websites. A representative for the American Board of Plastic Surgeons said that Moore had maintained his certification with the board. NYTIMES