How a teenage imposter gained access to 2 Texas hospitals

A teenager given a badge at Corpus Christi Medical Center essentially had free rein in many of the hospital's most critical areas.
How a teenage imposter gained access to 2 Texas hospitals
Posted at 12:09 PM, Apr 05, 2023

For nearly a month, a teenager posed as a medical professional and gained access to two hospitals in Corpus Christi, Texas, according to authorities. 

An investigation by the Corpus Christi Police Department revealed that is just one thing the teenager faked.

Scripps News Corpus Christi obtained witness statements and documents gathered by CCPD during its investigation.

Those documents reveal what police say was bank fraud to purchase a $52,000 BMW in March 2022. He allegedly drove that car from Missouri to Corpus Christi two days after the purchase to visit his 15-year-old girlfriend.

Police in Missouri have an open case investigating the alleged bank fraud, but said they could not share information on that case because the suspect was a minor at the time of the incident.

The suspect's alleged scheme reportedly began at the Corpus Christi retail shop Scrubs-R-Us.

According to CCPD and court documents, the teenager purchased $41 worth of scrubs from Scrubs-R-Us. After having these scrubs in hand, his next stop was a Corpus Christi hospital.

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It was at Corpus Christi Medical Center's Bay Area Hospital that the teen, dressed in scrubs, asked for a badge. Documents and witness interviews state he claimed to be a traveling physician assistant. That request came when the hospital's primary human resources staff were not in the office. The volunteer coordinator was reportedly manning the office that makes the badges.

During an interview with CCPD, the volunteer coordinator said she had reservations about making a badge for the suspect, but was told to make badges for staff as requested.

"They basically beat it into our heads that we needed to be all about customer service, so I was like, OK if you send me a picture, then I can get your badge started for you," said CCMC's former volunteer coordinator.

Scripps News Corpus Christi reached out to the suspect and the hospital, but both refused to comment.

That same CCMC employee told investigators that she informed her supervisors about the incident the same day.

"I've known people that are very young, one they just don't age hardly at all, and two they are just really smart so they can get through college faster, so I was trying to not hold that against him," she told police.

With a badge in hand and disguised as a medical professional, the teenager was able to access two Corpus Christi Medical Center hospitals, including Bay Area and Doctors Regional. Investigators also discovered he tried to obtain a badge from Driscoll Children's Hospital but was denied.

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CCPD spoke with a human resources recruiter assistant at Driscoll, who said the suspect called and then showed up to the office seeking a badge, claiming to be a traveling physician assistant.

That HR recruiter said the teenager has no such position and that he did not appear on any list for employment. She said that once he was notified, he stepped out of the room. The teenager reportedly claimed to call "his recruiter" and then said he was at the wrong hospital.

Armed with a badge to CCMC, badge swipes show he accessed the emergency room, intensive care units, operating rooms, catheterization laboratories and nursery units at Bay Area and Doctor's Regional.

Those badge swipes also indicate he was denied access to other areas of the hospitals, including the operating room locker room, physicians' parking gate, physicians' parking, and operating room control room.

"I don't know what his motive would have been with babies, but I mean yeah, it's scary he could even get up there. It's definitely not comfortable knowing that someone was able to do that," a CCMC nurse said while being interviewed by CCPD. "Those PAs (physician assistants), they can diagnose, they can write orders, they can do treatments, they can do procedures. What if they give you some random medication for a patient and it harms them?"

Using his scrubs and badge from CCMC, police say the suspect also gave false information to obtain residency at an apartment complex, stating that he made $28,000 a month.

Staff at the apartment complex said he would frequently come in in the scrubs, bringing gift baskets, including Apple watches and other goodies.

Ultimately the frequent hospital visits caused his story to unravel.

For about a month, he came and went without anyone seeming to notice, until one night he decided to hang around the intensive care unit.

"He was asking them about other doctors that work there, talking about the other nurses, talking about his girlfriend and cars and just all sorts of stuff, and the more they were telling me he was talking about, the more I felt something is not right," said a CCMC ICU nurse. "I don't know if he was specifically asking for access to the computer, but he was just mentioning that he doesn't have access, which you need a 3-4 ID and he was asking how he gets access."

In another instance, he made a slip-up, describing the school where he claimed to have gone. 

"He said it was a community college by Mizzou called Stephens College. In the moment, I was like, 'Oh cool.' In the moment, I had forgotten that Stephens College is actually an all-girls school," said one of the ICU nurses. "He is saying he's a PA, that he is Dr. Gleeson's PA, that he is going to come do our procedures. I was like, the kid looks 12 years old. I just don't believe anything he's saying."

After this interaction, and a quick search by the nurses of the teenager's social media, they determined he was not who he said he was. He was escorted out, and his badge access was disabled.

The volunteer coordinator who issued the badge was fired that week.

The teenager was arrested in June. He pleaded guilty in December to two third-degree felonies, including that of acting as a physician assistant without a license and forgery of documents.