California bar owner arrested for allegedly selling fake COVID-19 vaccination cards

West

CLEMENTS, Calif. (NewsNation Now) — A California bar owner was arrested after allegedly selling fake COVID-19 vaccination cards, authorities announced Wednesday.

Undercover agents for the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control went to the Old Corner Saloon in Clements and bought the fake laminated vaccination cards on several occasions in April, purchasing them for $20 each, according to the San Joaquin County District Attorney’s Office.

The bar was raided Tuesday and the owner was caught with the fake cards.

“He was in possession of a number of other unfilled out COVID-19 vaccination cards, a laminating machine, laminate and several other cards that were finished,” said Luke Blehm with ABC.”And it appears that they were waiting to be given to people.”

The owner of the bar, identified by NewsNation affiliate KTXL as Todd Anderson, was subsequently arrested, officials said. Anderson also had an unregistered firearm with him at the time of his arrest.

Blehm says the vaccination card crimes here may be a first of its kind.

“That we know of, this is the only case that’s ever been done — even nationwide possibly,” he said. “We did some research to try to find similars. They may be out there, but we just don’t know and haven’t seen them.”

The bar will remain open but KTXL has been told their license could be revoked as the investigation continues.

ABC told KTXL they have written up a criminal complaint against another employee at the bar, but it is up to the San Joaquin County District Attorney’s office whether to charge that person.

The FBI issued a warning in April that it is illegal to sell or buy fraudulent COVID-19 vaccination cards after fake vaccination cards began popping up for sale online.

“It is disheartening to have members in our community show flagrant disregard for public health in the midst of a pandemic. Distributing, falsifying or purchasing fake COVID-19 vaccine cards is against the law and endangers yourself and those around you,” said District Attorney Tori Verber Salazar. “The San Joaquin County District Attorney’s Office is grateful for the partnership with the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control and the San Joaquin County Sheriff’s Office for their work in this case.” 

NewsNation affiliate KTXL and Nexstar Media Wire contributed to this report.

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