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Henderson woman arrested, accused of posing as registered nurse

On paper, police say, it certainly looked like Mary Ann Southard was a nurse with years of experience treating patients.

Now, authorities say it was all fake.

Investigators arrested the 40-year-old Henderson woman last week on suspicion of posing as a nurse when she didn’t have a license. Authorities said Southard has confessed to assuming the identity of a real nurse in New York, then generating a string of false documents that allowed her to secure jobs as a nurse at medical facilities in the Las Vegas Valley and elsewhere.

“Since 2009, Southard has pretended to be a registered nurse and worked as a purported registered nurse in diverse medical settings in Nevada and South Carolina,” a Las Vegas police detective wrote in an arrest report. “These medical providers include surgery centers, emergency rooms, doctor’s office, and hospitals.

“While posing as a nurse, she has assessed patients, performed medical treatments, and administered controlled substances, among other tasks. Once hired, Southard received professional access to patients, administered invasive physical care and medications, and received access to patients’ sensitive, private and confidential medical records.”

Clark County Detention Center records indicate that Southard was booked at the jail Wednesday on three counts of acting as a nurse without a license resulting in substantial bodily harm, obtaining and using personal identity information of another to cause harm, and two counts of theft greater than $3,500.

Las Vegas Justice Court records indicate that no criminal complaint has been filed in the case. Southard was released from the jail on her own recognizance Thursday as part of an agreement that dictates she stay away from any medical facilities unless for personal medical treatment.

Court records indicate that a court date was set for May 20 for a status hearing on whether a criminal complaint will be filed.

Southard could not be reached for comment Friday. A phone call to a number listed for Southard went unanswered. She does not have an attorney of record.

‘Fraudulent documents’

Police said the investigation started in February when they received a letter from the Nevada Board of Nursing “reference a person by the name of Mary Ann Southard who was practicing nursing without a license.”

“The letter stated Southard has used another licensee’s name and fraudulent documents to gain employment as a registered nurse in the Las Vegas Valley,” according to her arrest report.

Police met with the Board of Nursing, which provided detectives with documentation. Police then interviewed a man who works as a business director for a company called Nutridrip, which was planning to open an IV vitamin infusion business at a Las Vegas Strip hotel. The man told police he interviewed Southard in November after she applied for a job as a registered nurse with the company.

According to her arrest report, Southard boasted during the interview about working at Centennial Hills Hospital Medical Center from 2009-12 as an emergency room nurse manager. Southard also, at the time of the interview, had been employed for a little more than a year at Naturopathic Medical Specialists.

The interviewer was impressed with Southard’s credentials, but the arrest report states that in December, he found that “Southard’s license was listed as revoked on the Nevada State Board of Nursing website.” The official with Nutridrip then confronted Southard, according to the report, and she fired off an email attempting to explain the situation.

“My license was issued under my married name in 2009,” she wrote. “I left Nevada in 2012 and later that year the state board found that someone was working in Nevada using my license.”

Police later determined that her explanation was false. She never graduated from nursing school, according to her arrest report, and she created a fake Illinois nursing license, which she used to obtain a Nevada nursing license in 2009.

She also created a fake “St. Anthony’s College of Nursing School transcript,” which was provided to the Nevada Board of Nursing, according to the report.

The board ultimately learned that the documents she had submitted to the agency were fraudulent and revoked her license, but not before “Southard admitted she used her fraudulent nursing license to obtain a position as a registered nurse at Centennial Hills Hospital” from 2009-12. A spokeswoman for the hospital could not be reached for comment Friday.

Police, as part of their investigation, interviewed a physician at Naturopathic Medical Specialists in Las Vegas. Police were told that Southard was hired at the facility on West Cheyenne Avenue and worked there for a little more than a year before the medical office learned from the Nevada Board of Nursing that she was not licensed.

According to her arrest report, Southard had obtained the job through fraudulent means by providing a nursing license under the name of a New York nurse who held a legitimate license in Nevada, then claiming the woman’s name as her maiden name.

“Southard claimed her license was under her maiden name,” the report states.

‘Accepted full responsibility’

Police then interviewed an official with Sound Physicians, which confirmed that it hired Southard in approximately July 2017 to work at St. Rose Dominican Hospital, San Martin campus, after she used the nursing license under the New York nurse’s name and again claimed that the license was issued under her maiden name. Southard also provided a copy of a Hawaii marriage certificate, according to her arrest report, to show that the license was issued under her maiden name.

“At the time, Sound Physicians did not know Southard was providing fraudulent information and they were unaware Southard was using the registered nursing name and license number of another to gain employment,” the report states.

In May 2018, Sound Physicians received an anonymous letter indicating that Southard did not have a license. According to police, an extensive investigation by Sound Physicians unveiled the fraud. She was dismissed, and again the Board of Nursing was contacted.

“Sound Physicians is a contract medical group that provides valuable services within areas of our hospital,” Gordon Absher, spokesman for Dignity Health-St. Rose Dominican Hospitals, said in a statement Friday. “San Martin hospital will continue to cooperate fully in this investigation.”

According to her arrest report, Southard also was hired in 2012 as an emergency room registered nurse at Coastal Carolina Medical Center in South Carolina. The report states that she applied for the position as a travel nurse through Millenia Medical “and represented herself as a registered nurse.”

Southard was in the orientation process at the hospital when an administrator noticed inconsistencies regarding her education, according to the report, and she was fired.

Las Vegas police interviewed the New York nurse who had a legitimate nursing license in Nevada. The woman told police that “she does not know a person by the name of Mary Ann Southard.”

Police then contacted Coronado Surgery Center in Henderson and confirmed that Southard briefly worked there before administrators learned that the materials she submitted in her job application were fraudulent, according to her arrest report. A statement provided to the Las Vegas Review-Journal from Coronado on Friday said Southard was promptly terminated.

According to police, she confessed before her arrest.

“Southard provided a full confession of her wrong doings and accepted full responsibility for her actions,” the detective wrote. “Southard was cooperative and apologized for her actions. Southard said she was a nursing student in 2006, but she never graduated from nursing school due to a relationship she was in at the time. Southard got the idea to create fraudulent documents when she moved out to Nevada, and she thought she would not get caught.”

Contact Glenn Puit at gpuit@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0390. Follow @GlennatRJ on Twitter.

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