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Couple used fake COVID vaccine cards Buffalo Bills game: DA


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A couple faces a felony charge after using fake COVID-19 vaccine cards to enter a Buffalo Bills football game in New York, Erie County district attorney said.

AP

A couple got into a Buffalo Bills football game using fake COVID-19 vaccine cards and sat through the first half until they were escorted out by law enforcement during the third quarter, according to a district attorney in upstate New York.

The unvaccinated pair had been on the Buffalo Bill’s radar before the team squared off against the New England Patriots on Jan. 15, Erie County District Attorney John Flynn said at a news conference, and now they face a felony charge.

West Seneca residents Michael Naab, 34, and Amber Naab, 37, were charged with second degree criminal possession of a forged instrument after entering Highmark Stadium and violating its vaccine policy by showing the fake cards, the district attorney’s office said in a Jan. 26 news release.

This is the first case prosecuted in the county under the state’s “Truth in Vaccination” legislation that was signed into law by Gov. Kathy Hochul in December, the news release noted.

“This legislation specifically states that a vaccination card is a written instrument, which makes it clear that presenting a fake vaccine card, with the intent to defraud another person or entity, is a crime,” Flynn said.

“If you present a fake vaccine card, you will be prosecuted.”

To enter the Buffalo Bills stadium, proof of full vaccination is required for fans 12 and older, according to the stadium’s site. Proof of at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose is required for fans 5 to 11.

An anonymous tipster had reported the couple for apparently posting to social media about using fake COVID-19 vaccine cards to get into earlier Buffalo Bills games, Flynn said at a Jan. 26 news conference, which is how the pair got on the team’s radar.

So after the couple showed up to the Jan. 15 game, they were questioned by the sheriff’s department about the fake cards, according to Flynn. As a result of that investigation, the team and the sheriff’s department asked the district attorney’s office to prosecute them, he said.

The cards weren’t obviously faked — “that’s why they got in,” Flynn said — but authorities have “evidence that they were not vaccinated.”

When asked if there are “better things” for the district attorney’s office to pursue, Flynn said “I readily admit this is not the crime of the century.”

However, Flynn said “you can’t do this” and that “there’s a law.”

The couple was arraigned in court on Jan. 25 and were “released on their own recognizance as the charge is a non-qualifying offense for bail,” the news release said.

They are due to appear for a felony hearing on Feb. 22 and face a maximum seven years in prison if convicted, according to the district attorney’s office.

Flynn said that he had been tipped off about individuals using fake COVID-19 vaccine cards to enter Buffalo Bills games earlier in the season, but they couldn’t prove those cases at the time.

Julia Marnin is a McClatchy National Real-Time reporter covering the southeast and northeast while based in New York. She’s an alumna of The College of New Jersey and joined McClatchy in 2021. Previously, she’s written for Newsweek, Modern Luxury, Gannett and more.





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