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Bills fans arrested after bragging about using fake vaccine cards to attend games

The Buffalo Bills sought the prosecution of a couple who allegedly used fake vaccine cards to attend their AFC first-round playoff game against the New England Patriots on Jan. 15. (Timothy T. Ludwig/Getty Images) (Timothy T Ludwig/Getty Images)

A West Seneca, N.Y., couple is facing felony charges for allegedly using fake vaccine cards to attend the Buffalo Bills’ playoff win over the New England Patriots.

Amber and Michael Naab, 37 and 34, each were charged with one count of criminal possession of a forged instrument during their Tuesday arraignment in Orchard Park Town Court. The charge, a Class D felony, carries a maximum of seven years in prison if convicted, although Erie County District Attorney John Flynn said he would not send the couple to prison.

“I readily admit this is not the crime of the century,” Flynn said during a Wednesday news conference. “I hate to be the guy that says, ‘I need to send a message.’ I don’t like being that guy, but you can’t do this. There’s a law. We’ve got laws on the books.”

Flynn suggested the couple, who he said is unvaccinated, obtained and filled out blank vaccination cards, which they used to attend Bills games at Highmark Stadium.

The Bills have required proof of vaccination at home games since September. In December, New York Gov. Kathy Hochul signed a law that made falsification of coronavirus vaccination records a crime.

Flynn said the Bills learned about the Naabs through an anonymous tip from someone who saw the couple bragging on social media about using fake cards to attend Bills games. They allegedly did so the night of Jan. 15, when the Bills hosted the Patriots in a first-round playoff matchup, although they were removed from their seats and taken for questioning in the third quarter. The couple was arraigned Tuesday night and is scheduled to return for a felony hearing Feb. 22.

Neither Peter Todaro nor Sunil Bakshi, the attorneys representing Amber and Michael Naab, returned requests for comment.

“Am I going to send them to Attica? No. But they’re going to get prosecuted,” Flynn said, referencing the prison about 40 miles east of Buffalo.

During the news conference, Flynn said he does not want to make an example of the Naabs, whom he suspects are just two of the “thousands” who may have used fake vaccination cards to gain entry to stadiums and other sports venues. They might have escaped prosecution if not for their social media posts, he added.

Vaccination status has been a point of contention across sports, particularly within the Bills organization, which had one of the NFL’s lowest rates of player vaccination. While some players recounted harrowing experiences while infected with the coronavirus, others have been more outspoken about the issue.

In late October, the Erie County Department of Health said at least 250 people were denied entry to Highmark Stadium after the team’s full vaccine mandate for fans went into effect before a home game against the Miami Dolphins. Kimberly Ray, a former Rochester, N.Y., radio host, was investigated by the state health department after she claimed to use a fake vaccine card to attend that game.

She posted a photo from the stands on Twitter, with the caption: “Here we are. Didn’t even look at my fake card lol.”