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IOWA CITY — A Colorado woman accused of forging documents from the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics to show she had COVID-19 — as an excuse to get out of a court hearing — is facing formal charges out of that state related to the Iowa allegations.
Emily Elizabeth Cohen, 41, of Boulder, faces three new counts of forgery and three new counts of attempting to influence a public servant for purporting to be COVID — 19 positive — and faking UIHC documents to prove it — dating to July, according to an arrest affidavit filed this week.
Cohen, who recently gave investigators two “current” addresses in of Iowa City, is a former Boulder immigration lawyer facing theft charges in Colorado for allegedly collecting fees from immigrant families before losing contact with them without producing visas or work permits, according to the Boulder Daily Camera. She is set for a 10-day trial in Boulder County starting Dec. 6 for 11 felonies.
In a new arrest affidavit signed Monday, Boulder investigators catalog the new charges against Cohen, which came to a head Nov. 2 when she was supposed to appear in person for a pretrial hearing in Boulder. Cohen appeared virtually instead, after sending the court a letter — dated Nov. 1 — from UIHC family medicine physician Jessica Alston.
That letter said Cohen had tested positive for COVID-19 and therefore could not attend the hearing in Colorado.
“This filing by Cohen was notable to this investigator because Cohen had previously filed similar notes in the pending case from the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics that discussed her COVID positive status and how that affected her ability to appear in person for a hearing,” according to the arrest affidavit.
The first note, dated July 14 from a nurse practitioner, was provided to the court July 16. Cohen submitted another note July 28 from a Des Moines-based physician assistant.
“Both notes from July 2021 indicated that Cohen was unable to travel to Colorado due to her possible COVID positive status,” according to the arrest affidavit. “The fact that Cohen was again alleging a positive COVID test seemed suspect, and so I opted to follow up with the signing doctor.”
When the investigator reached out to UIHC to verify the authenticity of the Nov. 1 excuse, a staff member replied, “We would like to verify on behalf of Dr. Jessica Alston, she did not write the attached letter. This letter is considered invalid.”
That prompted the court to issue a warrant for Cohen’s arrest in Iowa City. But investigators said that even while in custody, Cohen was protesting her arrest on Twitter — posting a positive test result and another UIHC note — from a different provider — indicating she had tested positive Oct. 28 at a Walgreens.
A Boulder investigator Nov. 3 contacted the Johnson County Jail to see whether Cohen had been tested for COVID-19 at the jail. The jail hadn’t yet tested her, but then did and two days later reported she was negative. Investigators also obtained records showing Cohen had tested negative — not positive — at the Walgreens.
Boulder investigators, in continuing their investigation, obtained records from over the summer.
Investigators learned Cohen had called a QuickCare nurse in July “asking for a note for work,” according to the affidavit. Cohen suggested it say she was “presumptive positive” and “could not travel.”
“The nurse noticed that when Cohen went to get her swab that day, the swab was refused and not collected,” according to the affidavit. “When the nurse asked Cohen about this, Cohen said she got the swab but the provider who collected it said she did not think the swab ‘went in all the way.’”
A provider later confirmed for investigators that “Cohen had refused the swab and left.”
“The nurse tried to call Cohen back to say she would need to reschedule and do the swab again since it was not collected the first time,” according to the affidavit. However, “the nurse said she did provide a note that had the vocabulary that Cohen had said her work wanted.”
Details of when Cohen will be extradited to Boulder have not been made clear. She is in the Johnson County Jail on $90,000 bail.
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