Coronavirus

VA hospital nurse charged with stealing and selling COVID vaccination cards

Federal authorities charged Bethann Kierczak, 37, with stealing the cards and later reselling them for $150-$200.

For over four months, Bethann Kierczak, 37, sold the cards across metro Detroit, primarily communicating with buyers via Facebook Messenger, according to authorities. Bloomberg photo by Eric Lee


When a person messaged Bethann Kierczak requesting coronavirus vaccine cards earlier this spring, the registered nurse promised she would do her best, court records state.

Kierczak, a nurse at a Michigan Veterans Affairs hospital, had access to immunization records since she was responsible for administering the doses. But the requester, who is not identified in court records, needed 10 vaccine cards.

According to investigators, Kierczak explained that the request could take time because “this pharmacist seems to be a little protective of the cards, lol.”

“Ok lol,” the requester replied.

“But if I can’t today I will have more chances through next week,” Kierczak allegedly said. “… I will get em.”

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“Rockstar,” the requester said in return.

Federal authorities have since charged Kierczak with stealing authentic coronavirus vaccination cards from the VA hospital — along with vaccine lot numbers required to make the cards appear legitimate — and later reselling those cards for $150-$200, according to a criminal complaint unsealed Wednesday in the U.S. Eastern District Court in Michigan. For over four months, the complaint states, Kierczak, 37, sold the cards across metro Detroit, primarily communicating with buyers via Facebook Messenger.

Neither Kierczak nor her attorney responded to messages from The Washington Post on Sunday night.

“Regardless of whether an individual chooses to get vaccinated, we urge everyone to avoid turning to schemes like these to evade vaccination requirements,” acting U.S. Attorney Saima S. Mohsin said in a statement. ” . . . Selling these cards is a crime.”

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Kierczak is among the latest people charged with selling coronavirus vaccine cards as some attempt to evade immunization requirements. Since vaccines became widely available in the U.S., federal authorities have charged a bar owner, a pharmacist and state troopers, among others, with selling the immunization records now required to enter some restaurants, schools and public spaces. Federal authorities have also seized thousands of fake vaccination cards destined for locations across the U.S.

The messages between Kierczak and the unnamed person identified only as “Confidential Source” in court records began on May 22.

After the initial conversation, the interested party messaged Kierczak on June 3 requesting a vaccine card for a man who would only be allowed to see his children if he could show that he had been immunized, the complaint states.

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“Can you get me just ONE of them d— vaccination cards,” the requester wrote.

Kierczak agreed, saying she needed the man’s first and last name, as well as his date of birth, before filling out the card, the complaint states.

“Tell him I charge $150 for these, so he owes you a favor,” Kierczak allegedly wrote along with a laughing emoji.

On Aug. 12, Michigan authorities with the Department of Veterans Affairs – along with its Police Services – alerted federal authorities about a tip they had received involving Kierczak. Someone later identified as the “Confidential Source” in the criminal complaint had reached out to report that Kierczak was allegedly forging and selling coronavirus vaccine cards that she had stolen from the VA hospital. The source shared copies of messages exchanged with Kierczak as proof, the complaint states.

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VACCINE PROOF

Days later, the documents add, the tipster agreed to help authorities with the investigation by sharing new messages and phone conversations in which the informant and Kierczak discussed the vaccine cards scheme. On one occasion, Kierczak delivered a blank vaccine card at no cost to the source’s address, the complaint states. Kierczak refused to fill out the vaccine card but verbally provided the manufacturer’s name, lot number and dates the vaccine doses would have been administered so the unnamed person could complete the card, the complaint adds.

Kierczak allegedly added that she could provide additional cards upon request. In another message, Kierczak told the unidentified source that she had five vaccine cards inside her work desk drawer that she would sell for $200 each, according to the complaint.

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Kierczak also offered to give the person a commission if they helped her sell the cards, court records state. Kierczak later sold the unidentified source the five blank vaccine cards for $1,000 and gave them a $300 commission, the complaint states. That day, court records state, Kierczak also gave the source a sheet of paper with vaccine lot numbers to complete the vaccine cards. Federal authorities confirmed the majority of the lot numbers provided matched vaccines that had been delivered to the hospital.

Authorities arrested Kierczak on Sept. 29. That day, the VA condemned Kierczak’s alleged scheme.

“VA’s COVID-19 safety protocols, including ensuring accurate vaccination records, exist to keep both veterans and VA’s healthcare workers safe during this global pandemic,” Gavin McClaren, acting special agent in charge at the VA’s Office of Inspector General’s Central Field Office, said in a statement.

Spokespeople for the Department of Veterans Affairs did not respond to messages from The Post late Sunday.

Kierczak was later released after paying her $10,000 bond. She is due back in court for a preliminary hearing on Oct. 22, court records state.

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