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Ukiah pharmacist charged in COVID scam

The Department of Justice says an Adventist Health Ukiah Valley director helped a Napa naturopath produce fake vaccination cards.|

The director of pharmacy at Adventist Health Ukiah Valley hospital was one of 21 people charged this week by the U.S. Department of Justice for their alleged roles in a variety of COVID-19 scams.

The pharmacist, Ranna Shamiya, is one of three people prosecutors say abetted a Napa-based naturopath at the center of a scheme to produce fake coronavirus vaccination cards and sell bogus COVID cures.

Shamiya was charged with making false statements related to health care matters.

“We learned about this just two days ago, and we took immediate action. She is now a former employee,” said Adam Istas, public information officer for Adventist Health Mendocino County. “Our understanding of this situation pretty much mirrors that of the Justice Department.”

According to the department, Shamiya, 41, used her access to controlled medical information to identify legitimate lot numbers for FDA-authorized COVID-19 vaccines, and transmitted that information to Juli Mazi, the Napa homeopathic doctor.

Mazi then used the lot numbers to create fake COVID-19 vaccination record cards. Those cards would falsely indicate that Mazi’s customers received an FDA-authorized COVID-19 vaccine with a verified lot number.

A voice message left on a phone believed to belong to Shamiya went unanswered Thursday.

If convicted, Shamiya could face five years in prison, a $250,000 fine and three years of supervised release, according to prosecutors.

“Obviously, it’s disappointing,” Istas said. “It’s a legal matter, and it’s disappointing. I would note that at no point did this jeopardize our commitment to the safety of our patients. This is not a patient-facing charge she’s accused of.”

Mazi, meanwhile, pleaded guilty April 9 in federal court in San Francisco to one count of wire fraud and one count of false statements related to health care matters. Hers was the first federal criminal prosecution related to fraudulent COVID vaccination cards, the Department of Justice said. Mazi provided fake cards to at least 200 people, along with instructions on how to make the documents look like the bearer had received two doses of the Moderna vaccine, 28 days apart.

In addition to the fake cards, Mazi sold “homeoprophylaxis immunization pellets” she claimed would offer “lifelong immunity to COVID-19.” She lied to the customers, telling them the pellets contained small amounts of the virus and would create an antibody response, prosecutors said.

According to the Justice Department, Mazi had previously engaged in similarly deceptive practices by providing protective pellets and falsified immunization cards in place of childhood vaccinations required for school attendance.

Mazi, 41, is scheduled to be sentenced July 29.

The DOJ also charged two other people it says worked with Mazi. Jason Costanza of El Paso was her office manager and Jaimi Jansen allegedly distributed both the scam cures and the doctored cards through her wellness center in Santa Cruz.

You can reach Phil Barber at 707-521-5263 or phil.barber@pressdemocrat.com. On Twitter @Skinny_Post.

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