Herricks teacher who allegedly inoculated teen gets plea offer

Herricks teacher who allegedly inoculated teen gets plea offer
A Herricks teacher received a plea offer from the Nassau County District Attorney's office after allegedly inoculating her son's friend with the coronavirus vaccine. (Photo courtesy of Herricks Public Schools)

A Herricks High School teacher who allegedly injected a friend of her son’s with the coronavirus vaccine was offered a plea deal from the Nassau County district Attorney  Tuesday, officials said.

The offer would require Herricks biology teacher Laura Parker Russo, 54, to admit to a misdemeanor charge of attempted unauthorized practice of a profession and a disorderly conduct violation, officials said. Russo would be able to withdraw the misdemeanor plea and receive a conditional discharge for the violation if she did 50 hours of community service before her sentencing, officials said.

Russo was arrested on New Year’s Eve for allegedly injecting her son’s 17-year-old friend with the Johnson & Johnson coronavirus vaccine. Nassau County detectives said they were alerted by the teenager’s mother after he returned home from Russo’s Sea Cliff residence. The youth had gone to her home and was administered an injection by Russo, to which his mother had not consented, officials said.

After an investigation, it was determined that Russo was neither a medical professional nor authorized to administer vaccines. In a video obtained by NBC 4 New York, Russo is seen allegedly injecting a male with a COVID-19 vaccine. The male’s identity was covered in the video.

Russo would get three years of probation for the misdemeanor charge if she did not complete the community service before the sentencing, officials said. Prosecutors submitted the offer to Russo “based on the defendant’s longstanding ties to the community and her lack of criminal record,” Nassau County DA spokesman Brendan Brosh said.

Russo’s attorney, Gerard McCloskey, told Newsday that he expects the Herricks teacher, who has since been “removed from the school environment,” according to Herricks Board of Education President Henry Zanetti, to accept the plea deal.

“My client has otherwise an unblemished personal and professional record,” McCloskey told Newsday. “She’s a woman who has done a tremendous amount of community service throughout her lifetime … and has ultimately been a positive force in her community and I think they took that into consideration.”

Lisa Doyle, the teenager’s mother, told Newsday that she believes Russo “should have a criminal record” and should not “work with kids.” Doyle’s attorney, Karen Johnston, told Newsday that the plea offer promotes a message that “if you want to vaccinate somebody, go ahead…there will be no repercussions.”

Efforts to reach officials for further comment were unavailing.

Zanetti, in a statement this week, said that despite the plea deal the district has its own independent process and “continues to investigate and pursue” that. Zanetti said district officials were legally unable to comment any further.

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