GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — A woman accused of posing as a registered nurse at a Grand Rapids hospice facility faces a federal charge, years after being convicted of a similar crime in Texas, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Michigan.
Leticia Gallarzo, 48, of Allegan County, was charged with identity theft, the attorney’s office said Wednesday.
Gallarzo got a job at a Grand Rapids hospice care facility by using the name and licensing number of somebody else who was licensed as a nurse, court documents provided by the attorney’s office alleged.
The criminal complaint accused Gallarzo of doing so on purpose, because she used the identity of someone with the same first name.
According to the documents, she also claimed to have a master’s degree in nursing from The George Washington University — but in reality, she did not hold any nursing degree at all.
Gallarzo allegedly appeared for an in-person orientation at the Grand Rapids hospice facility on May 15, 2023, and actively provided care for patients, the court documents said.
Court documents said that when she was fingerprinted on May 23 as a requirement of employment, the employer learned that Gallarzo was permanently barred from providing direct services to patients in nursing homes and hospice facilities due to a previous federal conviction.
The criminal complaint said Gallarzo had several convictions for similar crimes: a 2016 conviction in Kent County for using another’s identity to obtain employment as a nurse from November 2014 to February 2015, a 2015 conviction in Goliad County in Texas for practicing nursing without a license in March 2015 and a federal conviction of false medical records after she pretended to be a registered nurse in Texas facilities from March 2015 to September 2015.
After the employer discovered Gallarzo was barred from the job, she was fired from the Grand Rapids hospice facility, the documents said.
On June 1, police found Gallarzo working as a nurse at a nursing home within the Western District of Michigan, according to the criminal complaint.
While executing a search warrant at Gallarzo’s home, police said they found a copy of a second person’s Michigan nursing license. Gallarzo had worked with that person at a nursing home, the documents said, but that person told police Gallarzo had “no valid reason” to have a copy of her license.
The criminal complaint against Gallarzo was filed Tuesday.
In a statement, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Michigan Mark Totten said the allegations of pretending to be a nurse “put unsuspecting patients in harm’s way.”
If convicted of identity theft, Gallarzo faces up to 15 years in prison, the attorney’s office said.