Grand Rapids, MI – U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Michigan Mark Totten recently announced that a federal grand jury returned an indictment charging Leticia Gallarzo of Allegan County, with wire fraud, two counts of aggravated identity theft, two counts of making false statements in medical records affecting health care benefit programs, and production of a false identification document, all charges relating to her scheme to defraud employers by posing as a registered nurse.
“These allegations that Ms. Gallarzo faked her qualifications as a licensed medical professional are highly concerning and potentially put innocent patients at risk,” said U.S. Attorney Mark Totten. “My office takes this threat to the public very seriously and thanks our law enforcement partners for their investigative work in this case.”
If convicted, Gallarzo faces a maximum sentence of up to 20 years in prison for wire fraud and two years mandatory imprisonment for aggravated identity theft, to be served consecutively to the underlying sentence.
According to allegations in the indictment and a previously filed criminal complaint, Gallarzo used the Michigan licensing number and the name of a person licensed as a nurse to obtain employment as a registered nurse at two different locations: an area nursing home and a hospice facility. Gallarzo did not possess a valid nursing license and represented that she earned a master’s degree in nursing from The George Washington University and a bachelor’s degree in nursing from Davenport University, despite not having a degree of any kind in nursing. Gallarzo produced a counterfeit Michigan nursing license that was also used to obtain employment with the hospice facility. The hospice facility learned that Gallarzo was a nurse impostor when her fingerprints matched the fingerprints on record due to her previous state and federal convictions for practicing nursing without a license in Texas in 2015 and 2016. The Michigan State Police arrested Gallarzo shortly thereafter.
“As alleged in this case, the defendant recklessly and willingly put the lives of innocent patients at risk,” said Cheyvoryea Gibson, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI in Michigan. “The FBI remains committed to ensuring identity theft cases like this one are thoroughly investigated. I would like to extend a special thank you to the Michigan State Police for their outstanding work and support throughout this case.”
“The defendant’s alleged actions demonstrate blatant disregard for the safety and well-being of those under her purported care,” said Mario M. Pinto, Special Agent in Charge with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General (HHS-OIG). “To ensure that patients receive appropriately qualified services, HHS-OIG will steadfastly pursue those who misrepresent their medical qualifications.”
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.
The charges in an indictment are merely accusations, and a defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty in a court of law.
Source: US Attorney’s Office