A high school teacher in suburban New York was charged Wednesday with submitting a forged COVID-19 vaccination card in an effort to get around the school district's rule mandating either vaccination or weekly testing for the coronavirus.
Tricia Manno, a teacher at Sewanhaka High School on Long Island, was arraigned on charges including criminal possession of a forged instrument and offering a false instrument for filing, Nassau County District Attorney Anne Donnelly announced.
“This defendant allegedly attempted to circumvent the school district’s mandatory testing requirement by submitting a vaccine card with obvious forgeries,” Donnelly said.
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According to prosecutors, Manno, 47, submitted a digital copy of a vaccination card to the Sewanhaka Central High School District on Sept. 21, 2021.
District employees suspected forgery and asked Manno to submit the original card, prosecutors said.
Manno told the district staffers she had been vaccinated at the Northport VA Medical Center but had lost her original card, the prosecutors said. Manno then went to the medical center, showed staffers there a digital image of the forged vaccination card and asked for a replacement, prosecutors said.
A staff member issued a replacement card even though the Northport VA Medical Center had no record of administering a COVID-19 vaccine to Manno, Donnelly said.
“Manno doubled down on the fraud by allegedly illegally obtaining a replacement card at the Northport VA Medical Center where she claimed to have been vaccinated, showing staff a digital fake as her proof," the district attorney, a Republican, said in a news release. "Submitting fraudulent documents is a crime, and in this case, one that put the health and safety of students and staff at risk.”
Manno pleaded not guilty at her arraignment. Her attorney, Scott Limmer, said he was awaiting discovery from the district attorney's office. If convicted of the charges against her, Manno faces a maximum of two and one-third to seven years in prison.
James Grossane, the superintendent of schools, said in a statement that the district will fully cooperate with the investigation but that it could not comment on private personnel matters.
The charges against Manno in Nassau County were filed days after several dozen public school teachers in neighboring New York City were placed on unpaid leave for allegedly submitting fraudulent proof of COVID-19 vaccination. The United Federation of Teachers is fighting the disciplinary action against the New York City teachers.