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Press Release

Former Marine Corps Reservist Sentenced to 21 Months in Prison for Stealing, Forging and Distributing Hundreds of Fraudulent COVID-19 Vaccination Cards During the Pandemic

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Eastern District of New York
Co-Defendant, a Long Island Nurse, Was Sentenced to 30 Months Imprisonment

Earlier today, in federal court in Brooklyn, Jia Liu was sentenced by United States District Judge Diane Gujarati to 21 months in prison for conspiring to steal, forge and distribute fraudulent COVID-19 Vaccination Cards.  On June 9, 2023, co-defendant Steven Rodriguez, a Long Island nurse, was sentenced to 30 months’ imprisonment for his role in the same scheme.  Liu and Rodriguez pleaded guilty in April 2023 to conspiracies to defraud and obstruct the United States’ response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Breon Peace, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, announced the sentence.

“At the height of the COVID pandemic, Liu and Rodriguez brazenly fabricated vaccine cards and sold them for profit, thereby putting the safety of others at risk during this deadly health crisis” stated United States Attorney Peace.  “This prosecution demonstrates our Office’s ongoing commitment to holding accountable those who engaged in COVID-19 fraud.  These prison sentences should deter other lawbreakers who put their own interests above public health.”

Mr. Peace thanked the Federal Bureau of Investigation, New York Field Office, for their outstanding investigative work on the case.

According to court filings and facts presented at sentencing, in May 2021, Liu and Rodriguez conspired to steal, forge, sell and distribute COVID-19 Vaccination Cards to hundreds of unvaccinated persons.  In addition to the cards, Liu and Rodriguez also offered buyers and co-conspirators false entry into government immunization databases.   

Liu and Rodriguez went to great lengths to evade law enforcement and conceal the scheme.  Members of the scheme used code words such as “gift cards,” “Pokemon cards,” or “Cardi Bs” to refer to fraudulent COVID-19 Vaccine Cards.  Liu also instructed his co-conspirators to communicate by encrypted applications and hide payment records.  Liu and Rodriguez also disguised the source of mail items containing COVID-19 Vaccination Cards by omitting or using false sender names on envelopes. As Covid-19 raged and hundreds of thousands of Americans perished, Liu exploited the pandemic to enrich himself, and push his anti-vaccine agenda, messaging a co-conspirator: “f--- the vaccine”.

In addition, Liu specifically targeted the armed forces and their attempts to contain the COVID-19 pandemic.  From approximately August 2021 or earlier, the defendant created and distributed false COVID-19 Vaccination Cards to members of the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve to help them evade its vaccination requirements.  Liu boasted to a co-conspirator on an encrypted messaging app: “you have no idea how many documents I have faked in my usmc (United States Marine Corps) career.”

The government’s case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Adam Amir with the assistance of Paralegal Specialist Sam Ronchetti.


Age:  28
Queens, New York

Age:  29
Long Beach, New York

E.D.N.Y. Docket No.: 22-CR-70 (DG)


John Marzulli
Danielle Blustein Hass
U.S. Attorney's Office
(718) 254-6323

Updated April 5, 2024

Public Corruption