A second St. Croix resident has been arrested for submitting false COVID-19 test results to the territory’s online travel portal, according to documents filed in V.I. Superior Court.
Tammy Stevens, 35, of Strand Street in Christiansted, was charged Tuesday with making fraudulent claims upon the government, accessing a computer for fraudulent purposes, use of false information, and filing or recording forged instruments, according to an affidavit filed by Wanson Harris, director of environmental health for the V.I. Health Department.
Stevens submitted COVID-19 test results from “Real Diagnostics” to the online travel portal in advance of her planned flight to St. Croix Sunday, which were flagged as suspicious “due to concerns that the name and dates appears to be sharper than the rest of the form, suggesting it to be altered,” Harris wrote in the affidavit.
Stevens was not cleared for travel, and Health Department officials determined that “Real Diagnostics” is a facility under the Florida Department of Health.
Virgin Islands officials contacted Health officials in Florida, who confirmed that the results entered into the travel portal by Stevens were not in the Florida Health Department’s database, according to the affidavit.
Harris also wrote that Stevens flew into St. Croix anyway, and “a quarantine letter was sent to Ms. Stevens via email on that same day, but no reply was received from Ms. Stevens.”
Harris called Stevens Tuesday and she agreed to an interview, in which she admitted that she used Google to find a template used by “Real Diagnostics,” which she altered using an app on her phone, according to the affidavit.
Harris showed Stevens a copy of the modified test results, and “Ms. Stevens stated that she made changes to the results by inputting her name and date of birth,” according to the affidavit. “Ms. Stevens later stated that she acknowledged the terms and conditions on the USVI Travel Portal prior to submitting the results.” Those terms and conditions clearly warn users that they will be prosecuted if they submit fraudulent documents through the online portal.
Stevens said during her interview that “she decided to modify the test results and submit it into the travel portal because she couldn’t get a timely appointment at Walgreens,” according to the affidavit. “Ms. Stevens also stated that a reason for not going to get a valid test was because she was diagnosed with COVID-19 a few months ago and that she thought it was OK to travel without a test.”
Stevens admitted that when she arrived at Rohlsen Airport on Sunday, “she presented the modified test result to the COVID 19 screeners,” Harris wrote.
Stevens posted $5,500 cash bail and was released pending trial.
Magistrate Judge Ernest Morris Jr. found probable cause for the charges Wednesday, according to court records.
Stevens’ arrest is the second since government officials announced a crackdown on fraudulent use of the travel portal, which is intended to screen incoming travelers and help prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Clifford Harrison Mattson, 54, of Annaly Estate, was arrested Saturday after admitting that he submitted modified test results for him and his wife so they could travel home to St. Croix, according to court records.
Mattson is facing the same four charges as Stevens, and was also released after posting $5,500 cash bail.
The four crimes collectively carry a maximum possible penalty of 13 years in prison and a maximum $7,500 fine upon conviction.