Three veteran Vermont state troopers are accused of being involved in a fake COVID-19 vaccination card scheme, state police said.
The three men — Shawn Sommers, Raymond Witkowski and David Pfindel — have resigned following the accusations, which were first raised by a fellow trooper on Aug. 9, Vermont State Police said Tuesday.
Sommers and Witkowski resigned a day later, while Pfindel stepped down Friday following additional investigation by state officials. They’re accused of having “varying roles” in the alleged scheme to make bogus vaccination cards, state police said.
“The accusations in this case involved an extraordinary level of misconduct — a criminal violation of the law — and I could not be more upset and disappointed,” the agency’s director, Col. Matthew Birmingham, said in a statement.
Birmingham characterized the allegations against the former troopers as “reprehensible,” particularly amid the ongoing pandemic and as getting vaccinated is “one of the most important steps” anyone can take to protect their community.
“I’m embarrassed that this situation has occurred and know that it has tarnished the reputation of the Vermont State Police,” Birmingham’s statement continued.
The accusations were referred to prosecutors in Burlington as well as the FBI. An investigation by the federal agency is underway, state police said, adding that it was unable to release information about the purported scheme until Tuesday.
“Due to the ongoing FBI investigation, the Vermont State Police is unable to comment further at this time,” the agency’s statement concluded.
Sommers and Witkowski joined the Vermont State Police in July 2016, while Pfindel was hired in January 2014. All three had worked out of the Shaftsbury barracks at one point during their careers, state police said.
Vermont Gov. Phil Scott announced last month that some state employees who work with vulnerable populations would be required to get vaccinated, but it’s unclear if state police were included in that category.
The FBI, meanwhile, warned the public in March not to buy or create fake vaccine cards, saying that the unauthorized use of an official government agency’s seal is a crime. The warning came after fraudulent vaccination record cards appeared on social media sites, as well as on e-commerce platforms and blogs.