CHICAGO (WLS) -- A licensed pharmacist in Chicago was arrested for allegedly selling vaccine cards on eBay, the U.S. Department of Justice announced Tuesday.
According to court documents, prosecutors said Tang-Tang Zhao sold 125 authentic CDC vaccination cards to 11 different buyers for approximately $10 apiece.
He's facing 12 counts of theft of government property.
"We take seriously, and will vigorously investigate, any criminal offense that contributes to the distrust around vaccines and vaccination status," said Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Polite Jr. of the Justice Department's Criminal Division. "The Department of Justice and its law enforcement partners are committed to protecting the American people from these offenses during this national emergency."
"Knowingly selling COVID vaccination cards to unvaccinated individuals puts millions of Americans at risk of serious injury or death," said Special Agent in Charge Emmerson Buie Jr. of the FBI's Chicago Field Office. "To put such a small price on the safety of our nation is not only an insult to those who are doing their part in the fight to stop COVID-19, but a federal crime with serious consequences."
"The Department of Justice is clearly sending a message that it will tolerate no fraud, no shenanigans of any kind when it comes to COVID," ABC7 Legal Analyst and former federal prosecutor Gil Soffer said.
Soffer explained that this type of case would not likely have been elevated to a federal case, but during this pandemic, things are different.
"We wouldn't have seen involvement by the main justice in Washington, D.C., but all of those things are happening here. Why? We are in a time of great peril and the department is sending a clear message that none of this will be tolerated," Soffer said.
A spokesperson for Walgreens said: "The individual has not worked for us since late April and we continue to cooperate with the government's investigation."
Zhao has had an active pharmacist license with the state of Illinois since 2018. However, a complaint has been filed against him and a hearing regarding his status is set for Monday.
If convicted, Zhao faces 10 years in prison for each count.