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A former New York high school teacher accused of injecting a teen with a COVID-19 vaccine at her home without his parents’ knowledge has been sentenced to community service and probation after pleading guilty to a misdemeanor charge. 

Laura Russo, 55, was arrested at the beginning of January, and authorities accused her of giving the 17-year-old, the son of someone she knew, a vaccine dose at her residence in Sea Cliff. Newsday reported that Russo later testified in a hearing that she got the dose when a pharmacist gave her expiring doses after she asked for an empty vial to use as a Christmas ornament. 

Authorities said the teen later told his parents, who called police. Prosecutors had initially charged Russo with the unauthorized practice of profession, a felony with a penalty of up to four years in prison. 

But on Friday, at a courtroom in Mineola on Long Island, the former science teacher at Herricks High School pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor count of attempting the unauthorized practice of medicine and a count of disorderly conduct. 

NEW YORK TEACHER ARRESTED FOR INJECTING TEEN WITH COVID VACCINE: REPORT 

A person is injected with a coronavirus vaccine.

A person is injected with a coronavirus vaccine.
(iStock)

On Friday, Judge Howard Sturim ordered her to fulfill 100 hours of community service over a year, while under interim probation. She was also ordered to go to therapy twice a week and to stay away from the teen. 

If Russo meets the community service requirement, prosecutors will vacate the misdemeanor charge. 

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Russo was listed on Herricks Public Schools' website as a high school science teacher.

Russo was listed on Herricks Public Schools’ website as a high school science teacher.
(Google Maps)

A spokesman for the Nassau County District Attorney’s Office said it had agreed to the plea and sentence “based on the defendant’s long-standing ties to the community and her lack of a criminal record.” 

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Russo’s attorney, Gerard McCloskey, told Newsday the plea agreement “was in the interest of justice as well as in my client’s best interest.” 

Herricks Public Schools Superintendent Fino Celano told Fox News Digital earlier this year that Russo was “removed from the classroom and reassigned” pending the outcome of an investigation. She later was fired. 

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 


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