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Nurse Impostor Pleads Guilty To Identity Theft And Making False Medical Records

U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Michigan Mark Totten announced that Leticia Gallarzo, 49, of Allegan County, pleaded guilty to using the identity of another person to obtain employment as a licensed registered nurse and to making false statements relating to health care matters.

“The allegations that Ms. Gallarzo faked being a licensed nurse and created false medical records are extremely alarming,” said U.S. Attorney Totten. “By allegedly posing as a certified medical professional, she risked patient care and put unsuspecting individuals in harm’s way. My office takes this threat to public safety very seriously and appreciates the work of our law enforcement partners in this investigation.”

Gallarzo pleaded guilty to two federal crimes: making a false statement in a medical record affecting a health care benefit program and aggravated identity theft. The health care fraud charge is punishable by up to five years in prison. The aggravated identity theft charge carries a mandatory two years in prison, which must be served consecutively (after) any prison sentence imposed for the health care fraud charge The Court has not yet scheduled Gallarzo’s sentencing date.

According to court documents, Gallarzo falsely represented that she was a licensed registered nurse and had completed a Bachelor of Science degree in nursing from Davenport University when applying for a job at a local nursing facility. When transmitting her application to the prospective employer over the internet through Indeed.com, Gallarzo used the means of identification of someone that she knew to be an actual licensed registered nurse in the state of Michigan. After obtaining employment as a nurse, Gallarzo evaluated and assessed elderly nursing home patients and falsely signed electronic medical records as a licensed registered nurse. These false statements were related to Medicare, a health care benefit program, because the nursing home relied on Gallarzo’s status as a licensed registered nurse to meet certain Medicare regulations for participation in and billing of Medicare.

“The FBI is dedicated to ensuring that cases of identity theft, such as this one, are thoroughly investigated and the public can trust qualified medical providers,” stated Cheyvoryea Gibson, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI in Michigan. “The scale of Ms. Gallarzo’s alleged fraud, which endangered innocent patients, is staggering. As law enforcement works together to combat fraud in our healthcare system, I would like to especially thank the Michigan State Police for their assistance in this investigation.”

“Today’s guilty plea underscores the significance and severity of the defendant’s conduct, particularly as it relates to her involvement in the submission of false documentation related to her purported nursing training and state licensure, as well as further false statements connected to her employment as a nurse in a skilled nursing facility,” said Mario M. Pinto, Special Agent in Charge of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General (HHS-OIG).  “HHS-OIG is committed to working together with our law enforcement partners to protect beneficiaries of our federal health care programs.”

The Federal Bureau of Investigation Grand Rapids Field Office and U.S. Health and Human Service Office of Inspector General are investigating the case. Assistant U.S. Attorney Ron Stella is prosecuting the case.

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