Judge rips fake nurse: ‘What the hell were you thinking?’

A woman who faked being a nurse to work at a St. Louis hospital was sentenced to eight months of house arrest – and received a thorough tongue-lashing from an irate judge.

“What the hell were you thinking?” US District Judge Henry Autrey asked Samantha Rivera, 36, on Wednesday while also sentencing her to five months of probation, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.

“You need to do some serious soul searching and think about what you did and what could have happened,” Autrey continued, adding that a patient could have died or suffered serious injury due to her “muddling about” in the intensive care unit.

Rivera is also required to repay about $21,500 to the staffing agency that placed her in the ICU at St. Alexius Hospital and $28,000 to the nursing school in New Mexico where she taught prior to her employment.

Rivera’s public defender said his client was too emotional to speak during Wednesday’s hearing. In an email read in court, attorney Charles Banks said Rivera admitted that she “finally bottomed out” and needed long-term treatment and counseling. Banks cited prior trauma that led to Rivera’s “self-destructive” and “bizarre behavior,” but he did not elaborate.

Assistant US Attorney Dorothy McMurty said Rivera located a nurse in New Mexico with a similar name and then used that’s nurse’s license in order to allow herself to be placed in the ICU in St. Louis without proper qualifications.

Rivera — who had a trust fund and didn’t need to commit fraud to find work, according to McMurty – fabricated her educational and professional backgrounds to get a teaching job in 2015 at Brown Mackie College in Albuquerque despite a background check that failed to verify the information.

Rivera then used the identity of the New Mexico nurse to apply for a nursing job through a St. Louis staffing agency in September 2016. She was later placed at St. Alexius Hospital, where she worked from November 2016 through February 2017. The hospital failed to renew her contract, according to the newspaper.

Rivera, who was charged in April, later pleaded guilty in October to health care fraud and identity theft. She never graduated college or nursing school, nor has she ever been a licensed nurse, according to court testimony.

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