A bar owner who allegedly sold fake Covid-19 vaccine cards at his Northern California business has been charged with multiple felonies, including forgery and identity theft.
Todd Anderson, 59, of Acampo, California, was arrested Tuesday at his bar, the Old Corner Saloon, John Carr, a spokesperson for the state Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control, told CNN.
ABC received a complaint that fake vaccination cards were being sold at the bar and opened an investigation, the agency said Wednesday in a statement. In April, undercover agents were able to buy four fake cards from the bar as part of their investigation, Carr said. They paid $20 for each card, he said.
It’s not clear how many cards were sold in total. Agents found two completed cards and 30 blank ones with a laminating device, Carr said. ABC said agents also found an unregistered firearm with Anderson during the arrest at his bar in Clements, nearly 35 miles southeast of Sacramento.
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“This is the first case the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) has investigated that involves allegations of the sale of Fraudulent COVID-19 Vaccination Cards,” Carr told CNN via email.
Anderson faces three felony charges, including carrying an unregistered firearm, forgery of a government seal and identity theft of Pfizer, CVS and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, according to the San Joaquin County District Attorney’s Office. He is also charged with creating a false medical record, a misdemeanor.
The arraignment for Anderson is expected to be May 18 in Lodi, California, according to the San Joaquin County District Attorney’s Office. A spokesperson for the DA’s office didn’t know whether he had retained legal representation.
The arrest comes as nationwide vaccination rates have fallen. While the United States averaged 3.38 million doses administered per day across a week in mid-April, the current seven-day average is 2.19 million doses per day, according to CDC data. The most recent numbers as of Wednesday show daily vaccinations have dropped by nearly 20% from last week.
San Joaquin County District Attorney Tori Verber Salazar expressed concern about the sale of fake vaccination cards.
“It is disheartening to have members in our community show flagrant disregard for public health in the midst of a pandemic,” Salazar said in a statement. “Distributing, falsifying or purchasing fake COVID-19 vaccine cards is against the law and endangers yourself and those around you.”
Health officials last year decided that everyone who receives a Covid-19 vaccine will be given a vaccination record card showing their full name, date of birth, type of vaccine and dose dates to keep track of immunization.
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