Protecting Suffolk

Sini: Manhattan couple falsifies COVID-19 results to delay drug case

A close up of Tim Sini.
Suffolk County District Attorney Timothy Sini in 2019

A Manhattan couple who allegedly falsified positive coronavirus test results to delay the husband’s drug case have been indicted on forgery and other criminal charges, Suffolk County prosecutors said Monday.

Prosecutors said Devon Lewis, 35, and his wife Blair McDermott, 36, traveled out of state last fall, visiting several hotels and casinos, when they were supposed to be quarantining at their home.

“It is reprehensible that someone would claim to have this deadly virus, which has taken so much from so many people, to try to avoid the consequences of their own criminal actions,” Suffolk District Attorney Timothy Sini said. “This was a completely selfish, senseless attempt to subvert our criminal justice system and delay the inevitable, but there’s no escaping justice in Suffolk County.”

Lewis and McDermott were each charged with two counts of second-degree forgery, two counts of first-degree offering a false instrument for filing and other criminal charges. Suffolk Supreme Court Justice John B. Collins ordered Lewis held without bail Monday during a virtual arraignment. Lewis is scheduled to return to court on Feb. 16.

McDermott was released on her own recognizance at her Dec. 23 arraignment. She is due back in court on Jan 22.

Lewis, facing multiple criminal charges related to the sale and possession of cocaine and heroin, went on trial in Riverhead on Sept. 17, prosecutors said, and closing arguments were expected to take place the following week, on Sept. 24.

On Sept. 23, Lewis provided the court a photograph of a document purporting to show that McDermott had tested positive for COVID-19 earlier that day. The court decided to suspend the trial until McDermott received a negative diagnosis.

Lewis told the court during an Oct. 1 virtual conference that he and McDermott were quarantining at home in Manhattan. On Oct. 14, Lewis’ attorney provided the court with a photo of a new document that said McDermott had tested positive again on Oct. 8.

Lewis’ trial resumed on Nov. 12, and a jury convicted him of 12 felony narcotics charges. He was held without bail.

An investigation by prosecutors, however, determined that McDermott allegedly altered the documents submitted to the court and that she had tested negative for the coronavirus.

A search warrant executed on Lewis’ cellphone after his conviction showed the couple’s travels to New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Maryland during the time they claimed to be in quarantine.

Lewis also provided the court in August with a doctor’s note stating that he had asthma and that any jail sentence imposed during the coronavirus pandemic would be a health risk. The investigation found that the doctor’s note was forged.

Lewis’ attorney Keith O’Halloran of Westhampton Beach said his client pleaded not guilty at arraignment Monday and denies the allegation.

“Unlike her co-defendant, Blair McDermott has never had a single contact with police or the criminal justice system,” McDermott’s Legal Aid Society lawyer Melissa Kanas said. “She has entered a plea of not guilty to the indictment and we are awaiting discovery, which will be forthcoming from the prosecution.”

Original article and credits can be found here.