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SALT LAKE CITY — An Elwood woman is facing felony charges in two counties stemming from allegations that she used the license of an unsuspecting nurse to get jobs at care facilities in South Ogden and West Valley City.
"She had presented herself as properly licensed to be hired by them," Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill said of Kristina Marie Owen Friday. "As the (Utah Division of Occupational and Professional Licensing) did the investigation, we found she had worked at several places and was using the identity of another person who was properly licensed."
The 33-year-old woman is charged with identity fraud and unlawful and unprofessional conduct, third-degree felonies, for allegedly using a license number that was not issued to her. She used it to obtain and maintain work at the two facilities, according to charges filed in 3rd District Court.
Owen is also facing charges of forgery and identity fraud, third-degree felonies; and two counts unlawful and unprofessional conduct, class A misdemeanors, in 2nd District Court.
Owen applied for a job at Abundant Life Home Health in South Ogden around Jan. 27, 2012, and indicated, in both her written application and in communications with those at Abundant Life" that she was a licensed practical nurse, the charges state. In April 2013, she obtained a similar position at Granger Medical Clinic in West Valley City by also representing herself as a licensed nurse.
"She was never doing acute care for people," Gill said. "It was the more peripheral area of dispensing medicines and different support systems she was doing."
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.
–Francine Giani, executive director of the Department of Commerce
The license number Owen provided to the companies was actually issued to Kristina Marie Schott in 2011. Schott told police she did not know Owen and had not given her permission to use the information given to the Utah Division of Occupational and Professional Licensing in connection with her license, according to the charges.
Jennifer Bolton, spokesperson for the Utah Department of Commerce, said it is not clear how Owen found Schott and her license.
"The investigation is still ongoing and there may be other violations we're looking at," Bolton said Friday.
Owen was eventually confronted by a Utah Division of Occupational and Professional Licensing (DOPL) investigator and admitted that she had worked in several nursing positions without holding a legal license, a news release from the division said. But "(Owen) denied knowing or ever claiming to be Kristina Schott," the 3rd District Court charges state.
The licensing division investigator turned the case over to both the Salt Lake County District Attorney's Office and Weber County Attorney's Office, leading to the criminal charges in both jurisdictions.
"When you have these care critical jobs and then you have someone not properly licensed, you run the risk of harm to that person as well as potential injury in other situations," Gill said. "This is very serious for DOPL, but it's also very important for us."
Francine Giani, executive director of the Department of Commerce, which oversees the division, said she is grateful for the "swift justice" that came through the offices' collaboration.
"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," she said.