CHARLOTTE AMALIE — A Texas woman detained at the St. Thomas airport on Thursday for being a fugitive from justice was re-arrested the next day after authorities said she also falsified her COVID-19 test results online.
Breanna Kathleen Ward, 34, of Kingwood, Texas, was arrested Friday and charged with making fraudulent claims upon the government, access to a computer for fraudulent purposes, use of false information, and filing or recording forged instruments, the Virgin Islands Police Department said.
“It was discovered that Ward altered her positive COVID-19 test result, changing it to negative, and uploaded the altered test into the Virgin Islands travel portal,” VIPD spokesman Toby Derima said.
Bail for Ward was set at $5,500. But as a fugitive from justice, she was not allowed to post bail. She was remanded back to the custody of the Virgin Islands Bureau of Corrections, pending an advice-of-rights hearing.
Justa Encarnacion, Commissioner of the Virgin Islands Department of Health, denounced Ward’s actions in altering her COVID-19 test results, allowing her to travel to the Virgin Islands while she was positive for COVID-19.
“Choosing to fly while you are knowingly infectious for COVID-19 puts the lives of others at risk. This is a huge threat to public health and everything we do to protect our community,” Encarnacion said. “That is why the travel portal is in place. Uploading fraudulent results, or altering results in any way, shows a disregard for the well-being of others.”
Police Commissioner Trevor A. Velinor expressed similar sentiments regarding the incident.
“Ms. Ward unnecessarily exposed our officers, and countless other citizens, to this deadly virus,” Velinor said. “We are now forced to take officers off-line, placing them in quarantine status, affecting the Department’s operations. Hopefully, this arrest will discourage individuals from this irresponsible practice.’
In March of 2020, U.S. Department of Justice officials said that people who knowingly spread the coronavirus disease could face criminal charges under federal terrorism laws.
Ward was arrested by officers assigned to the COVID-19 Enforcement Task Force, Derima said.
All individuals listed as arrested or charged with a crime in this report are presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.