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'Impostor nurse' charged with fraud, identity theft

Matthew Lane • Dec 16, 2019 at 6:30 PM

GREENEVILLE — For more than six years, a Morristown woman pretended to be a registered nurse, working for at least eight health care providers in our region and administering care to an unknown number of patients despite having no nursing experience.

Federal prosecutors say the woman created a substantial danger to public health and put the lives of many patients at risk through her actions. Now, she is facing federal charges for these actions.

Misty Dawn Bacon, 44, of Morristown has been charged in U.S. District Court in Greeneville with wire fraud, health care fraud and identity theft. She pleaded guilty to the charges on Thursday and is scheduled for sentencing on April 3.

Bacon faces up to 45 years in prison with fines of $750,000.

According to the plea agreement, Bacon admitted to providing fraudulent information on job applications to health care providers by using the registered nurse license numbers of others to gain employment.

Prosecutors say Bacon posed as a registered nurse despite having neither a nursing degree nor nursing license from the Tennessee Department of Health and no nursing experience.

Bacon is prevented from being licensed as a nurse due to a 2003 conviction on federal embezzlement charges. Court records state Bacon attended Walters State Community College between 2005 and 2006 and in her false applications to various health care providers, claimed she held a nursing degree from Walters State, and in some cases from Carson Newman University.

To bolster her misrepresentations, prosecutors say Bacon obtained the names and license numbers of real registered nurses who had the same or similar partial names as her.

According to the plea agreement, Bacon was hired by at least eight health care providers between September 2012 and November 2018, including nursing homes, rehabilitation and assisted living facilities, a doctor’s office and home health agencies.

While posing as a nurse, prosecutors say Bacon had access and rendered medical care to numerous patients, dispensing medications, obtaining invasive access to patient’s bodies and gaining access to patients sensitive and private medication information.

Court records state Bacon made numerous false entries in patients medical records and submitted false claims to public and private health care benefit programs. Two of her employers voluntarily repaid health care benefit programs more than $500,000 for claims submitted upon learning of Bacon’s impostor status.

“Posing as a medical professional and putting the lives of innocent patients at risk is not acceptable,” said TBI Director David Rausch.

US Attorney J. Douglas Overbey said Bacon created a substantial danger to public health through her lengthy criminal scheme.

“Anyone who fraudulently poses as a licensed professional will be vigorously prosecuted by this office and an appropriate punishment will be sought,” Overbey said. “Our office will bring the full measure of the law against those who attempt to take this sort of dangerous and unlawful advantage of persons needing appropriate medical treatment from duly licensed health care professionals.”