Fake nurse faces felony charges

Posted at 11:21 AM, Jul 19, 2013
and last updated 2013-07-20 00:23:33-04

SALT LAKE CITY -- A woman was arrested and charged after she admitted to working as an unlicensed nurse at several Utah care facilities.

Prosecutors say 33-year-old Kristina Marie Owen stole the identity of a Utah County nurse.

A tip put Owen on the state's radar. Utah’s Division of Occupational Licensing, or DOPL, invested the alleged fake nurse for a year and when confronted, prosecutors say Owen confessed, telling investigators she had been fraudulently working as a licensed nurse for several years.

The Salt Lake County District Attorney says in January 2011, Owen stole another woman's nursing licensing number.

"We do have the ability to in the state of Utah to look up licensed professionals,” said Francine Giani, executive director with the Utah Department of Commerce.

“Is that what (Owen) did?,” asked reporter FOX 13 Gene Kennedy.

“It's possible," said Giani.

That may be how Owen landed jobs at Abundant Life Home Health and Hospice in South Ogden and at Granger Medical Clinic in West Jordan, where according to charging documents, "the defendant admitted attempting suicide in Sandy, Utah, on May 12, 2013 with prescription drugs she stole from the West Jordan Granger Pain Clinic where she had been working as an LPN."

Owen is out of jail. FOX 13 wanted to get her side of the story, so we ended up at her parent's home in West Jordan. Her dad answered the door.

"She's not here,” he said. "Sorry I don't have any information for you, all I know is what I've read in the paper."

Court records show Owen has been convicted of identity fraud at least twice and Salt Lake prosecutors had a pending theft and forgery case against her when they filed these recent charges. 

Fortunately, while working at these medical care facilities, prosecutors say there’s no indications anyone was hurt.

"She was not in a critical acute care scenario. She was more on the periphery dispensing medications and nothing has been forwarded to any kind of injuries resulting from her conduct," said Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill.

However, officials with Utah's DOPL are disturbed a position of trust in the health care industry was violated for so long.

"We've never seen a case like this before," said Giani.

We spoke with the Utah County woman whose identity was stolen. She told us she was surprised how easy it is to take a nurse's licensing information.

DOPL officials say employers routinely call the state to ask about a person's licensing. State officials are still looking at whether that was done in this case.

Owen is scheduled to appear in court July 29 and more charges may be coming. It's still an open investigation.