You are reading

Little Neck Man, Who Faces Charges Pertaining to Capitol Riot, Allegedly Sold Hundreds of Fake COVID-19 Vaccination Cards: DA

Little Neck man Jia Liu, who was charged in the Jan. 6 riot, has been indicted for allegedly selling fake vaccine cards (US Department of Justice)

Feb. 22, 2022 by Allie Griffin

A Little Neck man and Marine Corps reservist — who was charged in the Jan. 6, 2021 Capitol riot — allegedly peddled hundreds of fake COVID-19 vaccination cards to unvaccinated New Yorkers, federal prosecutors announced Thursday.

Jia Liu, 26, along with Long Island nurse Steven Rodriguez, 27, allegedly ran a fake vax card scheme in which they stole blank vaccination cards, forged them and then sold the fraudulent cards to unvaccinated individuals for a profit, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York.

The pair allegedly sold at least 300 bogus vaccine cards during their scheme running from March 2021 up until this month, prosecutors said.

They also allegedly entered more than 70 false COVID-19 vaccination records into New York state databases. The fraudulent records allowed their unvaccinated customers to access the state’s Excelsior Pass app, providing them with the ability to falsely show their employers and businesses—such as restaurants—that they had been vaccinated.

Liu and Rodriguez were arrested Thursday and charged with one count each of conspiring to defraud the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and one count each of conspiring to commit forgery.

The Little Neck resident was additionally charged with one count of conspiring to defraud the U.S. Department of Defense for selling the fake cards to other U.S. Marine Corps reservists who were required to be vaccinated against the virus.

“As alleged, by deliberately distributing fraudulent COVID-19 vaccination cards to the unvaccinated, the defendants put military and other communities at risk of contracting a virus that has already claimed nearly one million lives in this country,” United States Attorney Breon Peace said in a statement.

As part of the scheme, Liu allegedly purchased blank COVID-19 vaccination cards from Rodriguez — a nurse, who took them from his workplace — and then forged and sold them to unvaccinated buyers and co-conspirators for a profit.

He also instructed his customers to schedule a vaccine appointment with Rodriguez at the clinic.

As such, Rodriguez would meet the customers at the clinic but instead of giving them the shot, he allegedly destroyed the vaccine vial meant for them and forged a vaccine card stating that the customer had received a dose. He also made entries in immunization databases falsely stating that the customer had been vaccinated against COVID-19, prosecutors said.

Both men advertised their scheme through messages on social media and on encrypted messaging apps. They called the bogus vaccination cards code names like “Cardi Bs”, “Pokemon cards”, “gift cards” and “Christmas cards”, according to court documents.

The fake cards and records allowed Liu and Rodriguez’s customers to evade vaccine requirements necessary to keep their jobs or enter certain businesses like New York City restaurants.

Liu was already facing charges for his involvement in the Capitol riot on Jan. 6, 2021, when he was arrested Thursday. He was charged with four misdemeanors after security footage caught him storming the Capitol building.

Liu and Rodriguez each face up to 10 years in prison if found guilty.

email the author: [email protected]
No comments yet

Leave a Comment
Reply to this Comment

All comments are subject to moderation before being posted.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

Recent News

Popular places where you can watch the Super Bowl in Queens

Feb. 2, 2023 By Tammy Scileppi

Hey, football fans! Game time is fast approaching, and across the city and here in Queens, you can feel the excitement brewing as the two teams prepare to take the field on Super Bowl Sunday, Feb. 12. So, kick back and watch the big game, and don’t miss Rihanna’s exciting performance during halftime. 

Borough president hears from community members on budget needs throughout Queens

During a two-day public hearing on the mayor’s 2024 preliminary budget, Queens Borough President Donovan Richards Jr. listened to testimonies from 14 community board representatives, community stakeholders and members of the public on where the money should be spent in Queens. 

The public hearings were held both in-person and via Zoom on Monday, Jan. 30, and Tuesday, Jan. 31, at Queens Borough Hall. The testimonials will be used to develop the Queens Borough Board’s FY24 preliminary budget priorities in the coming weeks. 

‘He didn’t deserve to die’: Borough President Richards leads emotional candlelight vigil for Tyre Nichols

Queens Borough President Donovan Richards held a candlelight vigil for Tyre Nichols outside Queens Borough Hall Monday, Jan. 30 after Nichols’ death at the hands of police officers in Memphis, Tenn., made national headlines for the brutality in which the officers beat him.

Almost immediately after news broke about Nichols’ death, the Memphis police officers who beat him to death were fired and charged with murder. The police department released the body cam footage of the fatal beating on Jan. 27, but many people, including some at the vigil, have refused to watch it due to its extremely graphic nature.

BP launches new advisory panel for youth to become civically engaged in the future of Queens

In an effort to get more young people involved in civics, Queens Borough President Donovan Richards has created a new advisory panel known as the Youth and Young Adult Council to introduce the “youngest and fiercest” community advocates to both community service and organization.

Members of the advisory body will advocate concerns through means of community engagement by participating in one of two cohorts. The first will be made up of high school representatives between the ages of 13 and 17, while the second cohort will be comprised of young adults between the ages of 18 and 25.

Porn actor Ron Jeremy, who grew up in Bayside, found unable to stand trial for rape

LOS ANGELES (AP) — A Los Angeles judge on Tuesday, Jan. 17, declared that porn performer Ron Jeremy is mentally incompetent to stand trial on dozens of rape and sexual assault counts.

Superior Court Judge Ronald S. Harris said in a hearing that after reviewing reports from both prosecutors and Jeremy’s defense that he is in “incurable neurocognitive decline” from which he is unlikely to recover.