Bayonne pharmacist arrested for selling fake vaccine cards to unvaccinated people

A Bayonne pharmacist has been arrested and charged with selling fake COVID-19 vaccination records to people without actually administering the vaccine, Acting Attorney General Matthew J. Platkin and the Fraud Prosecutor’s Office announced. insurance (OIFP).

The pharmacist also entered false information into a state-run database of COVID-19 vaccination records.

Christina Bekhit, a licensed pharmacist who operates the AllCare pharmacy in Bayonne, was arrested on June 22 and charged with second-degree computer criminal activity, third-degree falsification of public information, and fourth-degree destruction, falsification or alteration of documents. degree. Relating to medical care.

The charges stem from an investigation by OIFP’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit (MFCU) in coordination with the Bayonne Police Department and the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs.

The complaint alleges that on three occasions, Bekhit sold forged COVID-19 vaccination records to undercover investigators for $250 each. The cards displayed vaccination dates and batch numbers of vaccines that had never been given to recipients, including an undercover investigator who told Bekhit his job required him to get vaccinated.

The complaint further alleges that Bekhit entered false vaccination information into the New Jersey Immunization Information System (NJIIS) database, claiming that individuals received COVID-19 vaccines when they hadn’t.

The NJIIS is an online system operated by the New Jersey Department of Health that serves as the official repository of immunizations given to children, adolescents, and adults in New Jersey.

Undercover investigation

The MCFU unit began investigating Bekhit after receiving reports that Bekhit sold a fraudulent COVID-19 registration card to a Bayonne police officer conducting an undercover operation in January 2022.

During the meeting with the undercover agent, Bekhit reportedly asked if he “really wanted to take the vaccine”. When the undercover officer said he hadn’t, Bekhit reportedly offered to sell him a vaccination card that would include two vaccination dates and enter it into the NJIIS database. Before leaving the pharmacy, Bekhit reportedly told the undercover officer “if anyone you know wants a vaccination card, bring it to me.”

During two subsequent visits by undercover MCFU investigators in February and March, Bekhit allegedly accepted payments for fake vaccination cards and entered false information into the NJIIS.

The investigation is ongoing.

The Consumer Affairs Division, which oversees the state’s professional licensing boards, said the state Board of Pharmacy has been notified of Bekhit’s arrest and will consider disciplinary action against his credentials. professionals, if applicable.

In addition to being licensed to practice pharmacy in New Jersey, Bekhit is separately licensed by the Board to administer vaccinations in the state.

Charges are just charges and the accused is presumed innocent until proven guilty. Second-degree felonies carry five to 10 years in state prison and a fine of up to $150,000, while third-degree felonies carry a three-year sentence. five years in prison and a fine of up to $15,000. felonies are punishable by up to eighteen months in state prison and a criminal fine of up to $5,000.

Assistant Attorney General Lauren Aranguren is prosecuting the case for the Insurance Fraud Attorney’s Office’s Medicaid Fraud Screening Unit. Detectives Catherine Cardenes and Regina Strugala coordinated the investigation under the supervision of Sergeant Danielle Han and Lieutenant Jarek Pyrzanowski,

Insurance fraud attorney Tracy M. Thompson thanked the Bayonne Police Department, New Jersey Consumer Affairs Division and the New Jersey Department of Health for their assistance in the investigation.

For updates on this story and others, visit www.hudsonreporter.com and follow us on Twitter @hudson_reporter. Daniel Israel can be reached at [email protected]

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