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Former Long Island nurse sentenced for fake COVID vaccine card scheme as she speaks out for the first time

Former nurse speaks out about fake COVID vaccine card scheme
Former nurse speaks out about fake COVID vaccine card scheme 01:52

RIVERHEAD, N.Y. - A former Long Island nurse was sentenced Tuesday for a scheme involving fake COVID vaccine cards at the height of the pandemic. 

Julie DeVuono, 51, admitted to money laundering and forgery. She was sentenced to 840 hours of community service in lieu of six months in jail. She was also sentenced to five years of probation, and has to forfeit $1.2 million. Much of the money was seized in her home in 2021, along with ledgers documenting profits. 

"This defendant abused her power as a nurse by submitting forged COVID-19 vaccination records and fraudulent prescriptions for oxycodone to state-wide databases," said District Attorney Ray Tierney.   

The judge called her "an opportunistic thief."   

She spoke out publicly for the first time Tuesday. 

"You do what's right, and you suffer the consequences," DeVuono said. 

"My client is basically the one who fell on the sword for everybody," her attorney Jason Russo said. 

Russo claims it was government interference with personal liberties that created the climate for fake vaccines

"Anybody in our society had the right to decide for themselves," DeVuono said. 

DeVuono was the owner of Wild Child Pediatric Health Care in Amityville. She charged $220-350 per adult fake shot and $85-220 for children. She then falsely reported shots to the state, while allegedly dumping thousands of scarce vials. 

"As for the greed, at that time the going rate for a COVID card on Long Island was $500," DeVuono said. "I had to charge something because I had to cover my extra expenses." 

Authorities said she laundered the money on a mortgage for her home which she shared with her husband, an NYPD pilot. As part of the sentencing, they must give up all firearms. DeVuono also surrendered her nurse practitioner and registered nurse licenses, and agreed to close the pediatric clinic which had been open since her arrest. 

Supreme Court Justice John Collins admonished DeVuono. 

"You endangered the lives of hundreds, if not thousands," he said. "You are an opportunistic thief." 

"Whatever I do next will be better, because it's not in New York," DeVuono said. 

She and her family have moved to Pennsylvania, but she must report to New York state probation. 

The state Health Department revealed in court that DeVuono also filed additional fraudulent paperwork for 226 patients, including children, who allegedly received other fake vaccines from her. 

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