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Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
IOWA CITY — A 41-year-old former immigration lawyer facing theft charges in Colorado is being held in the Johnson County Jail in Iowa City, accused of fabricating a positive COVID-19 test from the University of Iowa in an attempt to avoid a mandatory court appearance in Colorado.
Emily Elizabeth Cohen was booked at 3:08 p.m. Tuesday on a detainer from the Boulder County Sheriff’s Office, shortly after she tweeted that the Colorado court system “just had me arrested alleging I lied about having COVID. Tweeting from cop car.”
To that Twitter message, Cohen attached two pictures: one apparent screen shot of an electronic medical record showing a positive COVID-19 result and another of an apparent “medical excuse” from UI Hospitals and Clinics Nurse Practitioner Christina Nelson.
The letter Cohen shared appears to show Nelson stating, “Emily reports she was tested at Walgreens on 10/28/21 and states she was positive for COVID-19.” Citing Iowa Public Health Department guidelines, the letter indicates, “Emily will need to remain at home until they have been fever free for 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing medicine AND other symptoms have improved AND at least 10 days have passed since their symptoms first appeared.”
The tweeted letter notes Cohen’s symptoms started Oct. 24.
Cohen is scheduled for a 10-day trial in Boulder County in Colorado starting Dec. 6 for 11 felony theft counts stemming from allegations she collected tens of thousands in fees from immigrant families before losing contact with them without producing visas or work permits, according to the Boulder Daily Camera newspaper.
Boulder County prosecutors said Cohen also submitted letters from UIHC in July asserting she had COVID-19 symptoms. And then a district court judge issued an order requiring Cohen appear in person unless she’s able to produce a positive test — after she failed to appear for an in-person hearing claiming COVID-19, according to the Daily Camera.
The publication reported Cohen on Monday produced another UIHC letter saying she had COVID-19 as an excuse for failing to appear in person for a pretrial conference Tuesday. She instead appeared virtually but dropped off the call.
During that hearing, according to the newspaper, a Boulder County deputy district attorney said “skeptical” prosecutors checked with UIHC. The UI doctor cited in the letter that Cohen submitted denied writing it — calling it invalid, according to the Daily Camera. The newspaper quoted a Boulder County prosecutor as saying, “It seems that we have evidence that Ms. Cohen has attempted to defraud the court.”
Cohen — during her virtual appearance Tuesday — apparently dropped off the call after prosecutors presented the UIHC letters. On Twitter, she wrote that she was kicked off the call and “can’t get back on it.” Cohen said prosecutors were accusing her of lying because, according to her, the hospital said it was a resident cited in the letter.
“This means I’m lying?” she wrote. “Hospital says a resident IS a doctor.”
Shannon Carbone, a spokeswoman for the Boulder County District Attorney’s Office, confirmed for The Gazette the court issued a warrant for Cohen’s failure to appear.
“Additionally, there is an ongoing investigation into the document(s) that she provided to the court,” Carbone said.
Details about why Cohen was in Iowa City have not been made public.
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