Julie DeVuono of Amityville pleads not responsible to upgraded prices in alleged $1.5 million fraudulent COVID-19 vaccination card scheme
The lawyer for an Amityville nurse practitioner accused of operating an alleged $1.5 million fraudulent COVID-19 vaccination card scheme blamed “COVID hysteria” and a pair of subordinates for his shopper’s authorized troubles following her arraignment on cash laundering prices Wednesday.
Julie DeVuono had “little or no to do” with the vaccination aspect of her pediatric enterprise and “didn’t commit any crimes,” lawyer Jason Russo of Backyard Metropolis mentioned of his shopper, putting the blame for the criminality as an alternative on a pair of girls who labored for DeVuono.
“Sadly, the COVID hysteria that has overcome this nation has discovered its method right into a courtroom proper now,” Russo mentioned. “We’re going to battle this vigorously.”
DeVuono, 50, pleaded not responsible earlier than state Supreme Court docket Justice John Collins in Riverhead to felony prices of cash laundering, forgery of a authorities doc and providing a false instrument, in addition to misdemeanor conspiracy. Her company, Children-On-Name Pediatric Nurse Practitioner PC, has additionally been indicted.
DeVuono, the proprietor of CEO of a clinic working underneath the identify Wild Little one Pediatrics in Amityville, advised Collins she continues to be a licensed nurse practitioner and that she continues to function her apply 5 days per week.
Whereas DeVuono just isn’t dealing with any bail eligible offenses, Collins known as her a “flight danger” and ordered her to obtain GPS monitoring with a 5 p.m. curfew, circumstances Russo mentioned stunned him since they weren’t requested by the district lawyer’s workplace.
Prosecutors have alleged that after getting into into an settlement with the Facilities for Illness Management and Prevention to manage free COVID-19 vaccinations to the general public in 2021, DeVuono directed sensible nurse Marissa Urraro of Northport to faux giving pictures to sufferers who would then obtain a vaccine card in change for money. The pictures had been then falsely reported to the state, prosecutors mentioned.
Grownup sufferers paid $220 to $350 per faux shot recorded with the state, based on a civil forfeiture grievance filed by Suffolk County District Lawyer Ray Tierney in opposition to DeVuono final yr. Pretend pediatric pictures ranged from $85 to $220, the grievance mentioned. The workers usually obtained money funds from sufferers, which had been stored in a secure on the workplace from which DeVuono would often take away money, based on the grievance.
To hide the alleged scheme, DeVuono, Urraro and receptionist Brooke Hogan, of Patchogue, all of whom had been criminally charged, “wasted” the doses the clinic reported administering to sufferers by dumping an equal quantity of the vaccine right into a trash can, the grievance mentioned.
Urraro and Hogan weren’t charged within the new indictment and their instances have been sealed following courtroom appearances final week. A district lawyer spokesperson declined to touch upon the standing of their instances. An lawyer for Urraro didn’t reply to a message looking for remark.
“Counsel for DeVuono must be nicely conscious that Ms. Hogan has detailed her truthful involvement on this state of affairs as an worker for Ms. DeVuono,” mentioned Steve Politi, of Central Islip, who’s representing Hogan. “If inquisitive about Ms. DeVuono’s stage of involvement on this operation, merely comply with the cash.”
Talking exterior the courtroom Wednesday, Russo distanced his shopper from the alleged scheme.
“Throughout the time of COVID, the place the vaccines had been being given, there was a separate apply occurring and I feel you will study throughout the course of this, that my shopper had little or no to do with that a part of the apply,” he mentioned. “And these girls had been very closely concerned, and a number of the doings and a number of what was occurring was taking place due to what these girls had been doing … I think that they’re working with the federal government to assist themselves.”
Russo mentioned he tried to barter a plea settlement for his shopper, however he now not believes that’s an choice.
Within the civil forfeiture motion, Tierney alleged DeVuono used proceeds of the scheme to pay the mortgage on her Amityville home within the days following her arrest.
Tierney alleged within the submitting that DeVuono approved a $236,980 wire switch simply three days after her January 2022 arrest to pay the steadiness on a mortgage for the home owned by her husband, an NYPD pilot who retired in December, based on the civil forfeiture grievance.
Throughout the raid of the DeVuono residence in January 2022, investigators recovered greater than $869,000 in money and a ledger indicating the scheme generated $1.5 million, based on the civil forfeiture grievance and prosecutor statements at her earlier arraignment.
The alleged scheme has been linked to a lawsuit in state Supreme Court docket in Brooklyn filed by an lawyer for a gaggle of 30 New York Metropolis public faculty lecturers who had been suspended with out pay after an investigator reported they obtained their vaccine playing cards from the Amityville clinic, based on information in that case. Supreme Court docket Justice Gina Abadi dominated in December that these lecturers, 27 of whom beforehand had been granted tenure, must be returned to the classroom and awarded again pay.
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