COLUMBUS, Ind. (Feb. 18, 2016) - A Columbus woman was arrested by authorities Thursday morning, accused of stealing a northern Indiana nurse’s identity, and more specifically, her license number, to work as a registered nurse.
Holly Whyde, 45, now faces federal charges and is in the custody of the U.S. Marshals.
According to federal court filings, Whyde spent time presumably supervising other nurses at a facility in Columbus for more than a year.
Federal investigators said Whyde worked as a registered nurse and Director of Nursing at the Kindred Transitional Care and Rehabilitation Center, before being let go in December 2015 amid questions about her license.
Police swarmed a quiet neighborhood off Osage Court in Columbus on Thursday morning to the surprise of neighbors.
“They obviously were arresting someone, because they had her against the car in the driveway,” said a neighbor named Nancy.
Federal investigators said Whyde had been posing as a registered nurse, using a license that actually belongs to a northern Indiana woman, also named Holly. She is a nurse currently working on a cancer unit of a hospital.
“I kind of did my own research online also to find out information and to find out who she was,” the victim Holly told us by phone Thursday night.
Holly said she got suspicious when she tried to renew her license in fall of 2015 and noticed information was changed. It happened before in 2013, but she said she was told it was a clerical error.
She immediately called the state's professional licensing agency, who put her in touch with the Indiana Attorney General's office.
Federal investigators said Whyde is licensed, as a licensed practical nurse but not as a registered nurse. Licensed practical nurses have limited professional duties.
Last week, federal agents got Whyde’s personnel file from the Kindred facility in Columbus where she used to work as Director of Nursing. Investigators said she falsely provided the facility the victim’s name and her license number along with a phony social security number.
Investigators also found Whyde requested nursing transcripts of the victim’s bachelor’s degree in nursing from Governors State University in Illinois in September of 2014.
The victim said she still has questions about why nobody at the Kindred facility caught Whyde’s fraud sooner. She said she is thankful the outcome wasn’t worse.
“Did she have contact with patients? I was worried for the patients and their safety,” said Holly, “She could’ve done or anyone could’ve done anything under someone else’s license, and that could’ve fallen back on me and caused some detriment to my career. And being a nurse for over 24 years, that would’ve been devastating.”
Investigators said once Whyde was let go from Kindred, she applied to two other area healthcare centers in December using the same stolen information.
Whyde is scheduled to be in federal court Monday.
FOX59 asked Kindred Transitional Care and Rehabilitation Columbus if Whyde passed initial background and licensure checks. Luan Deskins, executive director, provided a statement below but did not answer our follow-up questions.
We became aware that the former Kindred Transitional Care and Rehabilitation Columbus Director of Nursing Services was under law enforcement investigation related to allegations of identity theft. When we learned this we conducted our own investigation. We have been and will continue to cooperate fully with the authorities on this matter. The individual who has been charged is no longer employed here.
Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller also released this statement in regard to the case:
“Thanks to the Columbus Police Department for quickly assisting our office in this alarming case, which involved not only the impersonation of a nurse but the identity theft of an unsuspecting Hoosier. The public places trust in trained nurses to make medical decisions, and this individual put patients at serious risk through her actions. My Office continues to work with the victim whose identity was stolen by this individual to ensure that no further harm is done.”