Seven years in jail for a fake vax card?

Seven years in jail for a fake vax card?
AP Photo/Angie Wang

Despite the fact that vaccination mandates are starting to be reeled back in this year and requirements for showing immunity passports are being dropped, there is apparently still a market for fake CDC vaccination cards. And while we’re not seeing as many instances as the same time last year, law enforcement is still catching some people either using or distributing fake documents. The latest instance comes to us from western New York State in the Buffalo suburb of Cheektowaga. A 24-year-old woman was arrested there this week and charged with possession of a forged instrument. That’s currently a Class D felony and the woman could be facing a maximum sentence of seven years in prison. But most observers doubt she’ll even do a single day behind bars.

State police on Monday announced the arrest of a Cheektowaga woman who was caught with fake vaccination cards.

Kaiyah S. Heinrich, 24, was charged with possession of a forged instrument in the second degree, a Class D felony.

An investigation from the New York State Police Bureau of Criminal Investigation found Heinrich was in possession of two forged CDC Covid-19 vaccination record cards. She was arraigned and released on her own recognizance.

The woman is being charged under a generic law against forging any sort of official government document, not a rule specific to immunity passports. And the seven-year sentence is almost certainly just a hypothetical scenario here, particularly if she doesn’t have any priors. Supporting that idea is the fact that Cheektowaga is in Erie County and the Erie County DA previously handled the case of a fan who was caught with a fake CDC card at a Bills game last year and said that jail time “would absolutely not be on the table” if they were convicted.

Given the current public attitude toward pandemic mandates and all of these rules, I’m fairly sure that no DA wants to be known as the guy or gal who locked a young woman up for years over a CDC card. That’s not to say that we should encourage people to forge government documents, but let’s be honest about this. This woman had two CDC cards on her when they caught her. If they’re going to start locking up everyone who has been either using or selling those fakes, they’re going to need to build some new jails.

New York has been something of a hotspot for fake vax card operations. There was the couple on Long Island who made millions of dollars selling thousands of them. Across the river, in New Jersey, there was a housewife who was selling them in bulk. And the phenomenon wasn’t restricted to the northeast. Out in Los Angeles, the use of these fakes was described as “skyrocketing” a couple of months ago. That included the glitterati attending swanky Hollywood afterparties.

And although some of you are probably growing tired of being reminded about this, those are just the people that managed to get caught. They’re the ones who were overly greedy or talked about it too much, perhaps to some COVID Karen who turned around and dropped a dime on them. The number of people who were more clever about it and didn’t get caught will likely never be known. The reality is that there are probably so many fake cards out there in circulation at this point that the entire immunity passport system is mostly a joke. And when all of this madness is finally in our rearview mirror, people will probably just try to forget that we ever put everyone through all of this.

So should Ms. Heinrich really get seven years behind bars for this? I really can’t see the point in it. She’ll have a felony on her record if she’s convicted and probably be sent on her way.

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Ed Morrissey 10:01 AM on June 02, 2023