A Waterbury woman waived her right to be indicted and pleaded guilty to a false statement offense stemming from her creation of false COVID-19 vaccine records for several people, according to federal authorities.
Zaya Powell, 25, pleaded guilty to one count of making a false statement relating to a health care matter, which carries a term of up to five years in prison, according to federal authorities. U.S. District Judge Jeffrey A. Meyer in New Haven scheduled sentencing for Nov. 4. Powell is free on a $25,000 bond pending sentencing.
Federal authorities said, citing court documents and statements made in court, that Powell worked as a data entry specialist for Griffin Health Services Corp. and traveled to COVID-19 vaccination sites in the state that were operated by Griffin Health.
Powell did not administer vaccines, but had access to Griffin Health’s electronic health record system and to “stacks of blank COVID-19 vaccination cards,” federal authorities said in a statement. Further, Powell had access to the Vaccine Administration Management System, also known as VAMS, a Centers for Disease Control database used to track vaccines, the statement said.
“Between August and October 2021, Powell created fraudulent vaccination records in VAMS for 14 different individuals,” the statement said. “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.”
Powell entered each person’s name and birth date into VAMS to create the fake cards, federal authorities said in the statement. “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 fake cards also “included lot numbers of genuine vaccines that were administered to other Griffin Health patients.”
Federal authorities said four of the 14 people who received the fake vaccination cards Powell created were state employees who worked at the Southbury Training School, a state Department of Developmental Services facility in Southbury. The four employees were required due to their positions to be vaccinated and allegedly sought and used the fake vaccination cards Powell created, and the false VAMS entries she did, “to falsely document that they had received a COVID-19 vaccination,” the federal statement said.