A science teacher at Herricks School pleaded not guilty to a felony Friday as a judge signed an order telling her to stay away from her son’s 17-year-old friend who allegedly injected her with what authorities believe was a coronavirus vaccine.
Laura Parker Russo, 54, of Sea Cliff, told police the substance was a Johnson & Johnson vaccine she got from a pharmacy, according to a criminal complaint. The court document also says she provided a “written statement of confession” to an informant.
Rousseau faces a maximum prison sentence of 1/3 and 4 years if convicted of a felony related to the unauthorized practice of the profession.
Police arrested her on January 1 after she allegedly gave the teenage girl the injection at her home at 6:30 pm on December 31 while she had no credentials as a health professional and without permission from the boy’s parents. The young man, who had a headache and did not feel well after the injection, told his mother about the shot and called the police, according to authorities.
Nassau County District Attorney Ann Donnelly said after Russo was indicted in Hempstead County Court that the investigation into how and where Russo obtained a vial containing the alleged vaccine is continuing. She said that part of the evidence against Russo includes a video of the incident that authorities found on TikTok.
“It’s been treated like they’re doing something funny and not funny when you’re breaking the law, and you’re injecting kids,” Donnelly said on Friday.
The district attorney said she was concerned about the potential for fake incidents, as other unqualified people would attempt to give the vaccine injections while the videos were being recorded. She added that the government has spent billions of dollars to make vaccines readily available.
“Get vaccinated the right way,” Donnelly said. “It wasn’t the right way.” “…Medical personnel are issued a license because they are being trained in order to give these vaccines. No one should take that upon themselves and think ‘I know enough to do it.’” “
The public prosecutor said authorities found no evidence that Rousseau had injected anyone else.
Prosecutor Danielle Silas told District Judge Lisa Petroselli during Russo’s trial that the defendant made a statement to authorities saying she had experience with needles.
Russo’s lawyer, Michael Derkarabedian, said after she was summoned that relatives who live with her have diabetes and she is constantly on medication. He said Russo graduated from Cornell University and worked as a teacher for 35 years and had no criminal record. He declined to comment when asked where his client obtained the material.
“There is no criminal motive in this case. She wasn’t making money. She wasn’t committing a heinous crime. It was only good that she wanted to get out of this thing. At this time, until I see their evidence, I can’t comment anymore.”
The defendant left court without commenting as news photographers followed her and her husband out of the building.
“Leave us alone!” At one point he cried.
The principal of Herex Public Schools said in a statement earlier this month that Russo had been “removed from the class and reassigned.”