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Press Release

Waterbury Resident Pleads Guilty to False Statement Charge Involving COVID-19 Vaccine Records

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Connecticut

Vanessa Roberts Avery, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, and Phillip M. Coyne, Special Agent in Charge of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, announced that ZAYA POWELL, 25, of Waterbury, waived her right to be indicted and pleaded guilty today before U.S. District Judge Jeffrey A. Meyer in New Haven to a false statement offense stemming from her creation of false COVID-19 vaccine records for several individuals.

According to court documents and statements made in court, Powell worked as a Data Entry Specialist for Griffin Health Services Corporation (“Griffin Health”) and, in that role, she traveled to various COVID-19 vaccination sites in Connecticut operated by Griffin Health.  Although Powell did not administer the vaccines, she had access to the Griffin Health electronic health record system and to stacks of blank COVID-19 vaccination cards.  She also had access to the Vaccine Administration Management System (VAMS), a database developed by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) that tracked COVID-19 vaccine administration.

Between August and October 2021, Powell created fraudulent vaccination records in VAMS for 14 different individuals.  The records indicated that each of the 14 individuals had received a single-dose Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccination at a Griffin Health location when, in fact, none had received any COVID-19 vaccination from Griffin Health or any other health care provider.  In order to create the fraudulent vaccination record, Powell entered each individual’s name and date of birth into VAMS.  She also created fraudulent COVID-19 vaccination cards for each of the 14, and distributed the fraudulent cards to the individuals or to their family members or co-workers.  The fraudulent cards included lot numbers of genuine vaccines that were administered to other Griffin Health patients.

The investigation revealed that four of the 14 individuals who received fraudulent COVID-19 vaccination cards created by Powell were state employees who worked at the Southbury Training School, a Connecticut Department of Developmental Services facility located in Southbury.  The four Southbury Training School employees were “state employees” or “state hospital employees” within the scope of Executive Order 13G issued by Governor Lamont, and were therefore required to meet the vaccination requirements of the Executive Order by September 27, 2021.  The four employees sought and used the fraudulent COVID-19 vaccination cards created by Powell and the false entries in VAMS created by Powell to falsely document that they had received a COVID-19 vaccination.

Powell pleaded guilty to one count of making a false statement relating to a health care matter, an offense that carries a maximum term of imprisonment of five years.  Judge Meyer scheduled sentencing for November 4, 2022.

Powell is released on a $25,000 bond pending sentencing.

This investigation is being conducted by the Office of the Inspector General of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS-OIG).

U.S. Attorney Avery thanked the Connecticut Department of Public Health, the Connecticut Department of Developmental Services, and Griffin Health for their assistance in the investigation.

This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney David J. Sheldon.

Updated August 12, 2022

Health Care Fraud