Three Vermont state troopers under federal investigation for creating fake COVID-19 vaccination cards

(WATERBURY, Vt.) — Three Vermont state troopers are under federal investigation for their alleged involvement in a fake COVID-19 vaccination card scheme, the Vermont State Police said in a statement Tuesday.

The men, who have been identified as Shawn Sommers, Raymond Witkowski and David Pfindel, are suspected of having varying roles in the creation of the fraudulent cards.

Sommers and Witkowski resigned their posts on Aug. 10, one day after another trooper raised concerns with supervisors about their conduct, police said. Pfindel resigned on Sept. 3, following an investigation by the Department of Public Safety.

“The accusations in this case involve an extraordinary level of misconduct — a criminal violation of the law — and I could not be more upset and disappointed,” Col. Matthew T. Birmingham, director of the Vermont State Police, said. “If these allegations are proved to be true, it is reprehensible that state troopers would manipulate vaccination cards in the midst of a pandemic, when being vaccinated is one of the most important steps anyone can take to keep their community safe from COVID-19.”

As soon as state police supervisors found out about the former troopers’ alleged actions, they said they immediately reported the allegations to federal law enforcement.

“I’m embarrassed that this situation has occurred and know that it has tarnished the reputation of the Vermont State Police,” Birmingham continued. “That said, the alleged criminal conduct from these troopers does not represent the values and actions of the dedicated men and women of the Vermont State Police.”

In August, Vermont Gov. Phil Scott announced that some state employees who work with vulnerable people would be required to get vaccinated, but it is unclear if the State Police are in that category.

The state police have referred the matter to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Burlington. An investigation by the FBI is underway, and as a result, police were unable to release information about the incident prior to Tuesday’s statement.

“Sommers and Witkowski both joined the Vermont State Police in July 2016 and were assigned to field stations following their graduation from the Vermont Police Academy in January 2017,” police said in their statement. “Pfindel was hired in January 2014 and assigned to the St. Albans Barracks. He transferred to Shaftsbury in February 2016, became a detective trooper with the Bureau of Criminal Investigations in July 2016, and returned to work as a road trooper in April 2020.”

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