By Ivan Pentchoukov
Three Vermont State Police troopers have resigned as a result of an investigation into fraudulent vaccination cards, the state’s Department of Public Safety announced on Tuesday.
Two of the troopers, Shawn Sommers and Raymond Witkowski, submitted their resignations on Aug. 10, one day after another trooper reported them. The third trooper, David Pfindel, resigned on Friday as a result of a DPS investigation, the department announced on Tuesday.
All three of the troopers are suspected of having taken part in creating fake CCP virus vaccination cards. Fellow troopers reported the conduct to Vermont State Police supervisors, who in turn reported the alleged misconduct to federal authorities.
“The accusations, in this case, involve an extraordinary level of misconduct—a criminal violation of the law—and I could not be more upset and disappointed,” Matthew Birmingham, director of the Vermont State Police, said in a statement. “If these allegations are proved to be true, it is reprehensible that state troopers would manipulate vaccination cards in the midst of a pandemic when being vaccinated is one of the most important steps anyone can take to keep their community safe from COVID-19.”
“I’m embarrassed that this situation has occurred and know that it has tarnished the reputation of the Vermont State Police,” Birmingham added.
The FBI is investigating the allegations, Vermont State Police said. The department withheld additional information, citing the ongoing federal probe.
“Based on an initial internal review, we do not believe there is anything more the state police could have done to prevent this from occurring,” Vermont Public Safety Commissioner Michael Schirling said in a statement. “As soon as other troopers became aware of this situation, they raised the allegations internally, and commanders took swift and decisive action to hold these individuals accountable and report this matter to federal authorities.”
U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has on more than one occasion seized fake vaccination cards from China. Blank templates for the cards as well as instructions for filling them out are readily available online.
A number of states have enacted a variety of vaccine mandates, prompting those who do not want to take the shot to falsify their vaccination status. An Illinois woman was arrested last week for allegedly attempting to use a falsified COVID-19 vaccination card when entering Hawaii.
More than 176 million people in the United States have received the full COVID-19 vaccine regimen as of Tuesday, according to the CDC. A number of recent studies have shown that vaccine effectiveness declines over time.
The CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, commonly known as the novel coronavirus, is the pathogen that causes COVID-19.
Recent research from Israel suggests that people fully vaccinated with the Pfizer vaccine are 13 times more likely to become infected with the Delta variant and 27 times more likely to develop symptomatic disease compared to unvaccinated people. The figures apply when comparing cases where the first vaccination or infection occurred between January and February 2021.
Zachary Stieber contributed to this report.