A Bayonne pharmacist’s license has been suspended, along with the business being closed, for selling fake COVID-19 vaccination cards, Acting Attorney General Matthew Platkin announced.
By John Heinis/Hudson County View
Christina Bekhit, who owns and operates the AllCare Pharmacy at 537 Broadway in Bayonne, was arrested by Bayonne police on June 22ndand charged with second-degree computer criminal activity, third-degree tampering with public information, and fourth-degree falsification of records relating to medical care.
“Forging vaccination cards and entering false information into the state’s vaccination database is a crime that creates a grave public health risk,” Platkin said in a statement.
“With the spread of COVID-19 still a significant threat to New Jerseyans, the alleged conduct of this licensee is beyond reckless. The Pharmacy Board acted appropriately in removing her from practice while these criminal charges are pending.”
In a consent order filed with the board, Bekhit agreed to the temporary suspension of her pharmacy license pending the outcome of the charges and pending further action by the board.
The consent order also directs Bekhit to discontinue her pharmacy business or sell AllCare Pharmacy by August 29th. Bekhit opted to discontinue business and surrender her board-issued permit to operate AllCare Pharmacy.
“It’s hard to believe that a health care provider would use her professional license to circumvent vaccination requirements in place to stop the spread of a deadly virus,” said Acting Director New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs Acting Director Cari Fais.
“These allegations, if proven, raise serious questions about her professional judgment and fitness to practice. I commend the Board for intervening to protect the public until the matter gets resolved.”
The charges against Bekhit are the result of an investigation conducted by New Jersey Office of the Insurance Fraud Prosecutor’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit (MFCU), in coordination with the Division and the Bayonne Police Department.
According to the criminal complaint against her, on three occasions Bekhit sold falsified COVID-19 vaccination record cards to undercover investigators for $250 apiece, including one undercover investigator who told Bekhit her job required her to be vaccinated.
The cards displayed vaccination dates and lot numbers for vaccines that were never administered to the recipients.
The complaint further alleges that Bekhit entered false vaccination information into the New Jersey Immunization Information System database (NJIIS) purporting that the individuals had received COVID-19 vaccinations when they had not.
NJIIS is an online system managed by the New Jersey Department of Health that serves as the official repository of immunizations administered to children, adolescents, and adults in New Jersey.
MCFU began investigating Bekhit after receiving information that Bekhit had sold a fraudulent COVID-19 record card to a Bayonne police officer conducting an undercover operation in January 2022.
During the encounter with the undercover officer, Bekhit allegedly asked if he “really wanted to take the vaccine.”
When the undercover officer said he did not, Bekhit allegedly offered to sell him a vaccine card that would include two vaccination dates and would be entered into the NJIIS database. Before leaving the pharmacy, Bekhit allegedly told the undercover officer “if anyone you know wants a vaccine card, bring them to me.”
In two subsequent visits from undercover investigators with the MCFU in February and March, Bekhit allegedly accepted payments for fake vaccination record cards and entered false information into the NJIIS. The criminal investigation is ongoing.
Upon receiving information about Bekhit’s arrest, the Board immediately moved to take action against her license.
Under the consent order filed on Tuesday, July 5th, Bekhit must immediately cease and desist from engaging in the practice of pharmacy, including filling, refilling, or dispensing any drug, handling prescriptions or devices and medications requiring prescriptions, advising or consulting with patients.
She is also prohibited from being present within any area of a pharmacy which is not open to the general public, the order states.