ALBANY, N.Y. (The Hill) — The owner and two employees of an Albany midwife practice have been charged with distributing fake vaccine cards, the Justice Department (DOJ) announced. They also allegedly destroyed vials of the COVID vaccine that patients were meant to receive.

Two nurse midwives at Sage-Femme Midwifery PLLC, one of whom is the owner, and a nurse at the practice face charges that they conspired to defraud the U.S. by enrolling the clinic as an authorized COVID vaccine administration site and providing vaccination cards to unvaccinated people, according to the DOJ. “Even though Sage-Femme was a small midwife practice, the defendants’ fraud turned it into one of the busiest vaccination sites in New York State, outpacing large, state-run vaccination sites,” the DOJ said.

Two other individuals were separately charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud and bank fraud, money laundering conspiracy and money laundering for allegedly being behind the submission of multiple fraudulent loan applications to the Paycheck Protection Program and the Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program, according to the department. Through their participation in the “separate schemes,” the DOJ said the defendants distributed at least 2,600 fake vaccine cards and defrauded pandemic relief programs of over $1.7 million.

“The defendants in these cases used the COVID-19 pandemic as an opportunity to engage in fraud, including faking vaccine cards and stealing vital funds designed to keep struggling businesses afloat,” U.S. Attorney Breon Peace said.  “My office remains committed to combating the opportunistic fraud that occurred in connection with the pandemic.”