Governor saddened by claim troopers made fake vaccine cards

Sep 8, 2021, 1:36 PM | Updated: 1:52 pm

MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) — Vermont Gov. Phil Scott said Wednesday he was “incredibly disappointed” by the allegations that three Vermont State Police troopers who have since resigned were involved in a scheme to create fraudulent COVID-19 vaccination cards.

Scott said he didn’t think the resignations, which were announced late Tuesday, were reflective of the entire organization of the Vermont State Police.

“It’s just a dumb thing to do to be perfectly frank,” Scott said during his weekly news conference. “It just makes no sense to me whatsoever.”

The FBI is investigating the allegations and Vermont Public Safety officials are conducting a separate investigation.

Scott said his first question was “why?”

“It’s just such a simple thing to do, you get vaccinated, you get your card,” he said. “You don’t need to fabricate something.”

On Tuesday the Vermont State Police announced that three state troopers had resigned after they were found to be allegedly involved in a scheme to create fraudulent COVID-19 vaccination cards.

Former troopers Shawn Sommers and Raymond Witkowski resigned Aug. 10, a day after a fellow trooper told supervisors about the alleged scheme. Former trooper David Pfindel resigned Sept. 3 following further investigation, according to a state police news release.

Sommers and Witkowski both joined the Vermont State Police in July 2016. Pfindel was hired in January 2014, police said.

All three troopers had connections to the Shaftsbury barracks in southwestern Vermont.

It could not immediately be determined if the three men have lawyers. An email to the Vermont Troopers Association was not immediately returned on Wednesday.

Vermont Public Safety Commissioner Michael Schirling said Wednesday there was no indication any other troopers or state employees were involved in the scheme, but the FBI is leading the investigation.

Schirling said the decision to release the details of the case came earlier than officials would have liked because they received a question from the media about the case.

“Otherwise we would not release the information, even at this stage, because, as is typical in any federal investigation, the government has an interest in preserving the continuity of the investigation by not having it be public until it is concluded,” he said.

Officials have not publicly described the details of the alleged scheme.

In the original release Tuesday, Col. Matthew T. Birmingham, director of the Vermont State Police, said the “accusations in this case involve an extraordinary level of misconduct — a criminal violation of the law.”

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Governor saddened by claim troopers made fake vaccine cards