Authorities Charge Woman After Long History of Pretending to Be a Nurse

Roni Robbins

December 16, 2021

A Canadian woman was recently charged by police in Vancouver, British Columbia, with impersonating a registered nurse while working inside a local hospital. Online news reports indicate the suspect has a long history of similar deception in other locations in Canada and the US dating back 30 years.

The Vancouver Police Department (VPD) charged the woman, who goes by the name of Brigitte Cleroux, 49, with fraud over $5000 and personation with intent. VPD launched an investigation in June after learning that an employee at BC Women's Hospital had fraudulently identified herself as a nurse while working there between June 2020 and June 2021, according to a VPD press release. At press time, Cleroux was in custody, and her next court appearance was set for January 5, according to BC court records.

In June, the British Columbia College of Nurses & Midwives (BCCNM) issued a warning that Cleroux might be using aliases, including Melanie Smith. It stated that it had "received a report that Melanie Smith has held herself out as a registered nurse in British Columbia in order to seek employment in a hospital, dental surgery clinic, and in residential care." The aliases included Melanie Thompson and Melanie Cleroux.

"This person has never been and is not a registrant of BCCNM and is not entitled to practice as a registered nurse in British Columbia

"Our detectives worked collaboratively with the Ottawa Police Service, which was conducting a parallel investigation into the same suspect," said Constable Tania Visintin. "We don't yet know how many people in Vancouver may have received treatment from the fraudulent nurse, but we're working with the Provincial Health Services Authority to identify patients who may have had contact with her."

Ottawa Police had charged Cleroux in September with more serious offenses of assault with a weapon and criminal negligence causing bodily harm along with "personation to gain advantage," obtaining by false pretense, and using a forged document.

The charges followed an investigation into "personation, criminal negligence and fraud-related incidents after falsely gaining employment and conducting duties as a nurse at a medical and dental clinic in Ottawa. Some of those duties included the administration of medications, including injections, to patients," police said in a statement.

"The investigation began when police were told that a woman had used aliases and assumed the identifies of registered nurses that she fraudulently obtained." Police said they believed there might be other clinics and victims.

The College of Nurses of Ontario also issued a warning about Cleroux and a list of seven other aliases under the Ottawa region heading.

Cleroux's past includes reports of a long string of deception dating back about three decades and including incidents in Florida and Colorado. Cleroux was in nursing school in Colorado, but only competed 2 years of a 4-year nursing course and was never certified as a nurse, according to CBC Radio-Canada.

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