Salt Lake City, Utah – A federal grand jury in Utah returned an indictment charging a Utah and South Carolina man for running a scheme to defraud the United States and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) by obstructing the CDC’s COVID-19 vaccination program.
According to court documents, Nicholas Frank Sciotto, 32, of Salt Lake City, Utah, and Kyle Blake Burbage, 32, of Goose Creek, South Carolina, manufactured, sold, and distributed at least 120,000 counterfeit COVID-19 vaccination record cards across the country between March 2021 through September 2021. Sciotto, a former resident of Weber County, Utah, started and operated an online business where he began to fraudulently manufacture and sell the COVID-19 vaccination record cards. As alleged in the indictment, most of Sciotto’s buyers lived in New York where they were subject to more stringent COVID-19 vaccine restrictions. Sciotto’s co-conspirator, Burbage, purchased counterfeit vaccination record cards from Sciotto and then resold some of the counterfeit COVID-19 vaccination record cards and distributed them in South Carolina. By collectively manufacturing, selling, and distributing thousands of counterfeit COVID-19 vaccination record cards to others during the COVID-19 pandemic, the defendants significantly undermined the CDC’s COVID-19 vaccination program and other governmental health-and-safety regulations and protocols. In furtherance of the conspiracy, Sciotto primarily sold the counterfeit COVID-19 vaccination cards online through Facebook and charged approximately $10 each, for orders of 10 or more cards, and $7.50 each, for orders of 100 or more cards.
The case is part of a nationwide coordinated law enforcement action by the Department of Justice to combat health care fraud related to COVID-19. In total, DOJ announced criminal charges against 18 defendants in nine federal districts across the United States. These cases allegedly resulted in over $490 million in COVID-19 related false billings to federal programs and theft from federally-funded pandemic programs. See national DOJ release here: https://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/justice-department-announces-nationwide-coordinated-law-enforcement-action-combat-covid-19
Sciotto and Burbage are charged with conspiracy to defraud the United States. The defendants are scheduled for their initial court appearances April 20, 2023, at 1:00 p.m. in courtroom 8.4 before a U.S. Magistrate Judge at the Orrin G. Hatch United States District Courthouse in Salt Lake City, Utah.
U.S. Attorney Trina A. Higgins for the District of Utah made the announcement.
The case is being investigated by the Office of Inspector General, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS-OIG), and FBI Salt Lake City Field Office.
Assistant U.S. Attorney, Todd Bouton, of the District of Utah is prosecuting the case.
On May 17, 2021, the Attorney General established the COVID-19 Fraud Enforcement Task Force to marshal the resources of the Department of Justice in partnership with agencies across government to enhance efforts to combat and prevent pandemic-related fraud. The Task Force bolsters efforts to investigate and prosecute the most culpable domestic and international criminal actors and assists agencies tasked with administering relief programs to prevent fraud by augmenting and incorporating existing coordination mechanisms, identifying resources and techniques to uncover fraudulent actors and their schemes, and sharing and harnessing information and insights gained from prior enforcement efforts. For more information on the department’s response to the pandemic, please visit https://www.justice.gov/coronavirus and https://www.justice.gov/coronavirus/combatingfraud.
Anyone with information about allegations of attempted fraud involving COVID-19 can report it by calling the Department of Justice’s National Center for Disaster Fraud (NCDF) Hotline via the NCDF Web Complaint Form.
An indictment is merely an allegation and all defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.
Public Affairs Specialist
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