SALT LAKE CITY -- A 33-year-old woman has been arrested on suspicion of misrepresenting herself as a licensed nurse while working in South Ogden and another Utah care facility.
Kristina Owen, of West Jordan, is accused of providing a fraudulent licensed practical nurse license to land and keep jobs at the Abundant Life Home Health and Hospice in South Ogden and the Granger Medical Clinic, Pain and Spine Division in West Valley City.
Prosecutors in Weber and Salt Lake counties have both charged her with felony counts of identity fraud, forgery and unlawful and unprofessional conduct.
The charges stem from a joint investigation between the prosecutors and the Utah Division of Occupational and Professional Licensing.
Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill said the LPN license Owen provided to employers had a similar name as her own, which possibly helped her slip through screening processes the care facilities have in place.
"This is why our interagency cooperation with DOPL is important," Gill said. "When you or I take our loved ones to care facilities, we're surrendering them to their care. The reason we have licenses is to establish competency and skill set. That gives a certain level of assurance."
Additionally, Gill said it was his understanding Owen was not involved in direct care of patients, but in other roles such as providing medications. But that doesn't necessarily mean she wasn't exposing patients to great risk.
"Under the wrong circumstance, a lot of tragedy could have come from this," said Gill, who added that it was his understanding Owen had taken some medical classes.
According to the charging documents, Owen landed a job with the South Ogden facility in January 2012 and with the West Valley City facility in April 2013 by claiming on her application that she had earned a degree as an LPN from Salt Lake Tooele Applied Technology College.
It usually takes one year of training to become an LPN.
"Once again, the Department of Commerce and its divisions are grateful for the swift justice from our partners at the Salt Lake County District Attorney and Weber County Attorney offices," Francine A. Giani, executive director of the Utah Department of Commerce, said in a statement. "We hope this case sends a strong message that if you try to fake a license in Utah, investigators will track you down and you will face charges."