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Woman Worked in Nursing Jobs With False Credentials

Woman Worked in Nursing Jobs With False Credentials

St. Louis Post-Dispatch

July 28, 2009

A woman used falsified credentials to work as a nurse for 18 years, many of them in the St. Louis area, according to federal court documents in a wire fraud case against her.

Catherine M. Connor, 55, of Chesterfield, pleaded guilty July 22 in U.S. District Court in St. Louis to one felony count of wire fraud. She admitted a long history of falsifying credentials, lying about her qualifications and covering up her criminal record to win nursing jobs.

She also doctored the nursing licenses of a co-worker and her ex-husband by adding her name, records show.

Connor’s employers included SSM DePaul Health Center, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Missouri’s prison health care contractor and the National Institutes of Health, according to the court documents.

Investigators said that Connor worked mainly in education or consulting and never provided hands-on care, such as administering drugs.

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“It probably was easier to blend in” that way, said Quinn Lewis, investigations administrator for the Missouri Board of Nursing. He said that “nurse impostors” like Connor are a growing problem across the country.

The charge related to a false statement made in an e-mail Feb. 25 to a supervisor at HealthCare USA of Missouri, a client of her employer at the time. She could face a prison term of up to 10 years.

Lewis investigated Connor in 2004, put her on the state’s list of impostors and referred the case to local law enforcement. But posing as a nurse was only a misdemeanor then, and Lewis said that police agencies may be reluctant to pursue a crime they rarely encounter.

Connor did not return a message left with her mother in Virginia. Her lawyer declined to comment, saying Connor did not want him to talk. Assistant U.S. Attorney Dorothy McMurtry also declined comment.

Connor’s plea deal, however, provides a road map of her deceit:

In 1984, according to court documents, Connor was sentenced to two years of probation and ordered to get mental health treatment after being convicted of two felony counts of credit card theft and two felony counts of forgery.

She received her nursing degree in 1991 from George Mason University in Virginia and applied for a license in that state, never admitting her criminal convictions or her mental health treatment. She also failed a national licensing exam.

She began working for the National Institutes of Health in July of 1991, but her employer found out she had failed the exam and ordered her to pass it or resign. She did not succeed and left NIH on Dec. 18, 1991.

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