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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of Maryland

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Maryland Woman Admits to Treating Patients while Fraudulently Posing as a Physician’s Assistant

 

Used Stolen Identity to Gain Employment at a Pediatrician’s Office;
Treated 200 Patients, Including Infants, and Wrote Over 400 Prescriptions

 


Baltimore, Maryland - Shawna Michelle Gunter, age 37, of Annapolis, Maryland, pleaded guilty today to wire fraud and aggravated identity theft in connection with a scheme to pose as a physician’s assistant to obtain employment, during which she diagnosed and treated over 200 infants and children, and wrote over 400 prescriptions, all without a medical license.

The guilty plea was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein; Special Agent in Charge Nicholas DiGiulio, Office of Investigations, Office of Inspector General of the Department of Health and Human Services; and Colonel Marcus L. Brown, Superintendent of the Maryland State Police; Special Agent in Charge William Winter of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI); and Colonel George F. Johnson IV, Superintendent of the Maryland Natural Resources Police.

“Shawna Michelle Gunter admitted that she fraudulently posed as a licensed physician’s assistant, treating patients and writing prescriptions, although she has no medical training,” said U.S. Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein.

According to her plea agreement, in June 2013, Gunter was a surgical assistant in a doctor’s office in Maryland. She told the doctor that she needed a $7,800 loan for emergency repairs to her septic system, when in fact she was remodeling her boyfriend’s house. Despite receiving this money, on June 21, 2013, Gunter stole a check from the doctor and forged the doctor’s signature on the check for $14,400. When confronted, she admitted the theft and was fired. These funds, totaling $22,200, have not been repaid.

Gunter searched for another job and learned that a prior acquaintance, a pediatrician who had offices in Centreville and Chestertown, Maryland, was looking for a physician’s assistant. Gunter falsely told the doctor that she had just graduated from Howard University with a degree as a physician’s assistant. Gunter faxed a false resume to the doctor. The doctor hired Gunter with the understanding that she would provide documentation of her education, Maryland physician assistant’s license and DEA certification reflecting her authority to issue prescriptions.

Gunter began work for the pediatrician as a physician’s assistant on July 5, 2013. She was immediately asked for the documentation. Knowing that she was not licensed as a physician’s assistant in Maryland, Gunter provided a forged physician’s assistant certificate bearing the license number of an actual physician’s assistant, as well as an altered copy of that individual’s DEA controlled substance registration certificate. She also provided a fabricated diploma, purportedly from Howard University.

Gunter began seeing pediatric patients without direct supervision on August 18, 2013. From August 19 to 29, Gunter diagnosed and treated over 200 infants and children, including for sick visits, ADHD follow-ups, newborn visits and routine physicals. During this time, Gunter issued over 400 prescriptions for controlled substances.

Gunter’s provision of unlicensed and unqualified medical care resulted in the pediatrician’s practice unwittingly submitting hundreds of false claims for Medicaid coverage, and the payment of $19,668.19 in fees on those false claims.

Gunter faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison for wire fraud; and two years in prison, consecutive to any other sentence, for aggravated identity theft. U.S. District Judge Richard D. Bennett scheduled sentencing for January 30, 2015, at 10:00 a.m.

United States Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein praised the Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General, Maryland State Police, HSI and Maryland Natural Resources Police for their work in the investigation. Mr. Rosenstein thanked Assistant United States Attorney Tamera L. Fine, who is prosecuting the case.

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Updated January 27, 2015