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Marine Reservist charged in Jan. 6 Capitol riot bought pretend Covid playing cards, feds say

A stack of COVID-19 Vaccination Report Playing cards from the CDC.

Ben Hasty | MediaNews Group | Getty Pictures

A U.S. Marine Corps Reservist from New York who beforehand was arrested on costs associated to collaborating within the Jan. 6 Capitol riot has been charged in a brand new case of conspiring to promote pretend Covid-19 vaccination playing cards to fellow reservists, prosecutors mentioned Thursday.

The reservist, 26-year-old Queens resident Jia Liu, is accused of conspiring with a nurse named Steven Rodriguez, 27, to defraud the U.S. Division of Well being and Human Providers within the pretend card distribution scheme, in line with prosecutors in U.S. District Court docket in Brooklyn.

Liu individually is charged with offering these playing cards to Marine Corps reservists, thus defrauding the Protection Division.

The Protection Division beforehand ordered that every one energetic and reserve army service members be vaccinated in opposition to Covid from August to January.

Liu’s alleged distribution of the pretend playing cards to different Marin reservists helped them evade this requirement, prosecutors famous.

“By intentionally distributing fraudulent COVID-19 vaccination playing cards to the unvaccinated, the defendants put army and different communities liable to contracting a virus that has already claimed almost a million lives on this nation,” acknowledged U.S. Legal professional Breon Peace.

“This Workplace stays dedicated to rooting out and prosecuting these people who threaten our public well being and security for revenue.”

Prosecutors mentioned the scheme led to greater than 300 stolen or false vaccine playing cards circulating and created greater than 70 false entries in immunization databases.

That allowed “unvaccinated people to obtain the Excelsior Move, which shows a person’s vaccination standing in a digital app,” the U.S. Legal professional’s Workplace mentioned in a press launch.

The scheme allegedly ran from March 2021 by means of this month.

Prosecutors mentioned Liu and Rodriguez, who labored in a Lengthy Island clinic, “promoted their scheme by means of messages on encrypted messaging functions and on social media.”

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“They referred to COVID-19 Vaccination Playing cards utilizing code names, equivalent to “reward playing cards,” “Cardi Bs,” “Christmas playing cards” and “Pokemon playing cards.”

Court docket paperwork say Lin purchased clean vaccine playing cards, from Rodriguez, after which cast and distributed them to patrons and different co-conspirators for a revenue.

Liu additionally instructed patrons to fulfill Rodriguez in individual on the clinic the place he works to purchase fraudulent playing cards, paperwork say.

“Rodriguez would meet the customer, however as an alternative of administering the vaccine he destroyed a vial of vaccine supposed for use to vaccinate a affected person,” prosecutors mentioned.

“He then supplied a cast COVID-19 Vaccination Card to the customer that he accomplished to make it falsely seem that the customer had obtained a dose of vaccine. He additional made entries within the Immunization Databases falsely indicating that the customer had been vaccinated.”

Liu was charged in October by federal prosecutors in Washington, D.C. for coming into the Capitol grounds throughout the Jan. 6, 2021, riot, and different crimes related to the invasion of the halls of Congress that day by a mob of supporters of former President Donald Trump.

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