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For Immediate Release
July 8, 2003
Contact: Sean Caine, 410-576-6357
scaine@oag.state.md.us

IMPOSTER REGISTERED NURSE SENTENCED TO 2 1/2 YEARS
FOR PRACTICING NURSING AT TWO BALTIMORE HOSPITALS

Attorney General J. Joseph Curran, Jr. announced today that Florence Ngwe Igwacho,40, of 15108 Jennings Lane in Bowie, was sentenced today in Baltimore City Circuit Court before the Honorable Lynn K. Stewart on two convictions of Practicing Registered Nursing without a License, arising from her work at the VA Maryland Health Care System and Mercy Medical Center. Florence Igwacho was also sentenced on a third count of Identity Fraud.

Prior to rendering her sentence, Judge Stewart told Igwacho that the Court considered the offenses serious because she preyed upon "vulnerable and helpless people," as the hospitalized patients depended on a licensed nurse for care. For the first count, practicing registered nursing without a license at the VA Maryland Care System, Judge Stewart imposed a one-year sentence to the Division of Corrections, suspending all but six months. The Court also imposed a five-year period of supervised probation to follow incarceration with the special condition that Florence Igwacho pay a fine of $5,000, the maximum allowed by law. The sentence imposed for practicing registered nursing at Mercy Medical Center without a license was a one-year sentence consecutive to the first count. The Court imposed an additional one-year consecutive sentence for the identity fraud conviction.

The convictions and sentencing follow an investigation by the Maryland Board of Nursing and the Criminal Investigation Division of the Attorney General’s Office. The investigation revealed that Ms. Igwacho received registered nursing assignments in Baltimore through nursing staff agencies by assuming the identity of Karan Awah, an actual registered nurse practicing in Washington, D.C. and licensed in Maryland. Ms. Igwacho assumed the name and birth date of registered nurse Karen Awah and presented nursing staff agencies with Ms. Awah’s Social Security Number, resident alien card, and a copy of her Maryland RN nursing license. The imposter also lied about having an RN degree from George Mason University.

Relying on the credential’s presented, the staffing agencies obtained nursing positions for the imposter at the city hospitals. Igwacho worked a number of night shifts at the Va Hospital and at Mercy before she was discovered. On August 1, 2002, an RN from Mercy was doing drill duty at Walter Reed Army Hospital as an Army Reserve Lieutenant. There she met the actual Karen Awah and both realized the nurse at Mercy was an imposter. Shortly after, Igwacho was expelled from the hospitals and terminated by the staffing agencies.

"Ms. Igwacho was simply pretending to be a nurse," Attorney General Curran said. "In doing so, she put others in serious danger by performing tasks which she was unqualified and unlicensed to do."

This case was prosecuted by the Criminal Investigations Division of the Attorney General’s Office.

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