A Utah plastic surgeon, his medical corporation and three others were accused of fake COVID-19 vaccination record cards, destroying more than $28,000 worth of government-provided coronavirus vaccines and administering saline shots to children, prosecutors said.
Plastic Surgery Institute of Utah, Inc. and Dr. Michael Kirk Moore Jr. were charged with conspiracy to defraud the United States and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, according to a Wednesday press release from the Justice Department.
Three others - identified in court documents as Plastic Surgery Institute of Utah office manager Kari Dee Burgoyne, receptionist Sandra Flores and Moore's neighbor Kristin Jackson Andersen - were also charged.
According to the indictment, from around early November 2021 to early September 2022, Moore and his co-defendants destroyed government-provided COVID-19 vaccines worth at least $28,028.50.
"As charged in court documents, defendants also administered saline shots to minors - at the request of their parents - so children would think they were receiving a COVID-19 vaccine," the DOJ writes.
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In addition to destroying COVID vaccines, the group allegedly issued at least 1,937 doses-worth of fabricated CDC COVID-19 vaccination record cards to fraudulent vaccine card seekers, "who came into the Plastic Surgery Institute to receive the cards, without administering a COVID-19 vaccine to them."
These fake vaccine dose records were sold for $50 each through direct cash payments or "donations" made to a "charitable organization," court documents said - bringing the transaction total of the fabricated cards sold to $96,850.
"By allegedly falsifying vaccine cards and administering saline shots to children instead of COVID-19 vaccines, not only did this provider endanger the health and well-being of a vulnerable population, but also undermined public trust and the integrity of federal health care programs," Curt L. Muller, special agent in charge with the Department of Health and Human Services, Office of the Inspector General, said in a statement.
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The Office of Inspector General, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Homeland Security Investigations and the Federal Bureau of Investigation are investigating the case, according to the DOJ's Wednesday release.
The defendants' initial court appearance is scheduled for Jan. 26.
The defendants' attorneys of record were not immediately clear as of Tuesday. USA TODAY reached out to the Plastic Institute of Utah for statement Tuesday afternoon.
According to Moore's biography on the practice's website, Moore has nearly two decades of experience in medicine. He graduated from School of Medicine at the University of Miami and completed his plastic surgery residency at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center, his biography says.
As of Tuesday afternoon, Moore is still listed as an active physician and surgeon on the Utah Division of Occupational and Professional Licensing database.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Doctor destroyed COVID vaccine, sold fake vaccine cards in Utah: Feds