MINEOLA, N.Y. (PIX11) — A Long Island high school teacher was charged with submitting a forged COVID-19 vaccination card in an effort to skirt the school district’s rule mandating either vaccination or weekly COVID-19 testing.
Nassau County District Attorney Anne Donnelly announced the charges against 47-year-old Tricia Manno on Wednesday. She was charged with criminal possession of a forged instrument and offering a false instrument for filing, both felonies. She also faces misdemeanor charges of criminal possession of a forged instrument and criminal possession of stolen property.
Manno pleaded not guilty. If convicted of the top charges, she faces up to seven years in prison.
“This defendant allegedly attempted to circumvent the school district’s mandatory testing requirement by submitting a vaccine card with obvious forgeries,” 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. Submitting fraudulent documents is a crime, and in this case, one that put the health and safety of students and staff at risk.”
The high school teacher is accused of submitting a digital copy of a vaccination card to the Sewanhaka Central High School District on Sept. 21, 2021. According to an investigation by the district attorney’s office, there were “several discrepancies” on the card allegedly submitted by Manno.
When employees at the school district suspected forgery, Manno was asked to submit the original card to the school. She allegedly told school staff that her original card had been lost, and claimed she was vaccinated at the Northport VA Medical Center.
On September 27, 2021, the Manno allegedly went to the Northport VA Medical Center on Sept. 27, 2021 to obtain a replacement card, claiming that she lost her original copy. She allegedly submitted that replacement card a few days later, on Oct. 5, 2021.
The Northport VA Medical Center has no record of administering the COVID-19 vaccine to Manno, according to the district attorney’s office.
Public school teachers were required to get vaccinated against COVID before the start of the school year in September. Anyone who was not approved for an exemption was fired, despite multiple attempts to overturn the mandate in court. Since then, the United Federation of Teachers union reported about 70 of its members, including tenured teachers and staff with contractual protections, were accused of falsifying vaccine records.
The Department of Education said The Special Commissioner of Investigation for the New York City School District and law enforcement agencies will investigate the allegations.
“Fraudulent vaccination cards are not only illegal, they also undermine the best line of protection our schools have against COVID-19 – universal adult vaccination. We immediately moved to put these employees – fewer than 100 – on leave without pay,” a DOE spokesperson previously told PIX11 News.