For years, Julie DeVuono has offered to help people avoid vaccination. In 2017 and 2018, the nurse’s pediatric practice advertised “vaccine exemption workshops” that it said would detail tips for “the best chance of acceptance.”

Now DeVuono and an employee face charges for allegedly selling fake coronavirus vaccination cards and entering them into a state database. Authorities say the pair from Long Island left behind a ledger recording profits of more than $1.5 million in less than three months.

“As nurses, these two individuals should understand the importance of legitimate vaccination cards as we all work together to protect public health,” Suffolk County, N.Y., Police Commissioner Rodney Harrison said in a statement.

DeVuono, 49, and Marissa Urraro, 44, were arrested last week and charged with forgery. DeVuono is also accused of offering a false instrument for filing, which involves knowingly submitting false information to a public office. Prosecutor say the nurses charged $85 for each “false entry” for children and $220 for adults.

DeVuono and Urraro have pleaded not guilty, according to their lawyers.

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“In today’s uncertain times, courts are issuing rulings regarding the government overstepping their limits,” Michael Alber, an attorney for Urraro, said in a statement. “Because of this, now more than ever, it is so important that there is no rush to judgment in forming an opinion against the respected LPN,” he added, using the initialism for licensed practical nurse.

When asked what Urraro would be arguing in her defense, Alber said that “legal impediments and defects” in the investigation would be discussed further in court.

An attorney for DeVuono said Sunday that his client has demanded a jury trial and that it is too early in the case to comment extensively. “Let me just say this — I would implore your readers not to jump to conclusions,” Barry Smolowitz said in a brief phone call.

A cellphone number listed in police documents for Urraro appeared to be disconnected Sunday, and a call to a number listed for DeVuono was not answered.

The case is one of many around the country alleging illegal efforts to circumvent vaccination requirements as some leaders and businesses mandate shots protecting against the coronavirus.

More than 200 million Americans have been fully vaccinated against the virus, with nearly 90 million of those people also receiving booster shots shown to significantly reduce the chances of serious illness, including from the omicron variant. But more than a third of the country has yet to receive a primary shot.

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Some people have sought to evade mounting restrictions on where unvaccinated people can work and participate in public life, authorities say.

Federal agents have seized mass shipments of fake vaccination papers. A New Jersey woman who allegedly advertised fraudulent cards under the Instagram handle “AntiVaxMomma” was charged last year. This month, a Delaware paramedic was accused of selling blank documents he allegedly stole from the vaccination site where he worked.

DeVuono and Urraro’s case has caught public attention because of the scope of the alleged scheme and the defendants’ profession.

“These individuals allegedly used their positions as licensed health care professionals to engage in criminal conduct for their financial benefit,” Suffolk County District Attorney Raymond Tierney said in a statement released Friday, the day the defendants were arraigned.

“I hope this sends a message to others who are considering gaming the system that they will get caught and that we will enforce the law to the fullest extent,” Tierney said.

Prosecutors say the defendants entered false information into the state’s immunization information system. New York has embraced vaccination mandates, ordering masks in any indoor public space that does not have a coronavirus vaccine requirement amid an omicron-fueled surge of infections. New York Democratic Gov. Kathy Hochul recently extended that requirement to Feb. 10 but said it may end if case counts keep going down.

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New York City has enacted some of the nation’s most extensive vaccination requirements for public life, mandating proof of shots for indoor dining, gyms, movie theaters and more.

Officials said the cards allegedly forged by DeVuono and Urraro endangered others, undermining efforts to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

Police searched DeVuono’s home and seized about $900,000, the district attorney’s office said, as well as a ledger of earnings from the card operation that they say began in November 2021. Photos of the seizures shared by prosecutors show wads of cash.

Authorities also searched DeVuono’s practice on Long Island, Wild Child Pediatric Healthcare, officials said. The district attorney’s office said an undercover detective was able to get a forged card from the defendants.

Wild Child Pediatric Healthcare seemed to acknowledge the allegations on its Facebook page Friday night.

“Thank you for your outpouring of support at this difficult time,” the post read. “Please keep my family and Marissa in your prayers as well.”

The Facebook page describes DeVuono as a pediatric nurse practitioner with 15 years in primary care pediatrics and 10 years as a nurse in pediatric or neonatal intensive care units. Urraro is a licensed practical nurse, officials said.

DeVuono and Urraro were arraigned Friday and released, according to online court records. Both are scheduled to appear in Suffolk First District Court on Feb. 8.

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