The New Jersey Board of Pharmacy has temporarily suspended the license and shut down the pharmacy of a Hudson County pharmacist arrested on charges of selling falsified COVID-19 vaccination record cards and fraudulently reporting the administration of COVID -19 vaccines to a state-managed vaccination registry without having administered the vaccine, Acting Attorney General Matthew J. Platkin and the Division of Consumer Affairs (Division) have announced.
Christina Bekhit, who owns and operates the AllCare Pharmacy at 537 Broadway in Bayonne, was arrested by the Bayonne Police Department on June 22. Bekhit was charged with second-degree Computer Criminal Activity, third-degree Tampering with Public Information, and fourth-degree Falsification of Records Relating to Medical Care.
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 29. Bekhit opted to discontinue business and surrender her Board-issued permit to operate AllCare Pharmacy.
“Forging vaccination cards and entering false information into the State’s vaccination database is a crime that creates a grave public health risk,” said Platkin. “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.”
“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 Cari Fais, Acting Director of the Division of Consumer Affairs. “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.”
Medicaid Fraud Control Unit investigation
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 5, 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.
Deputy Attorney General Delia A. DeLisi of the Consumer Affairs Counseling Section in the Division of Law’s Affirmative Civil Enforcement Practice Group is representing the state in this matter. Investigators with the Enforcement Bureau within the Division of Consumer Affairs conducted the investigation into this matter.
For updates on this and other stories, check www.hudsonreporter.com and follow us on Twitter @hudson_reporter. Daniel Israel can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.