Georgia officials say stealing someone’s nursing license to work in a medical facility is not as difficult as it might seem, evidenced by a woman who is accused of overseeing multiple disabled patients in Cobb County.
Corissa Laws is facing charges of aggravated identity theft and practicing nursing without a license, an arrest warrant obtained by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution states. She was arrested May 12 and was denied bond Tuesday due to posing “a significant risk of fleeing from the jurisdiction of the court” and constituting a threat and danger to others in the community, court documents show.
According to the warrant, Laws used a Florida woman’s nursing license and license number to gain employment at Walton Community Services in Cobb from September to November of 2022. Officials said Laws was not licensed by the Georgia Board of Nursing and that the license holder did not authorize Laws to use it.
During Laws’ employment at Walton, she oversaw eight patients who were placed at the facility by the Georgia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities, the warrant states.
“The majority of these residents are nonverbal and unable to care or communicate for themselves — needing 24/7 supervision and a licensed nurse to assist them,” according to the warrant.
Mike Hassinger, a spokesman for the Georgia Secretary of State’s office, said medical facilities must go through a process to verify licenses before hiring new staff. Though he said he does not know if Walton correctly verified the license Laws provided, he said as long as the license was valid and up to date, it would have checked out and nothing would have flagged it as stolen.
“Acquiring someone’s license is only as hard as stealing someone’s ID,” Hassinger added. “This is an identity theft case, only instead of stealing her credit card, this one’s got the lady’s nursing license.”
Hassinger said “it would take a small amount of paperwork” for someone with a Florida nursing license to be able to work in Georgia, despite the warrant stating that the Florida license Laws is accused of stealing was “single-state use only.” Laws is also believed to have worked without her own nursing license in New Hampshire, the warrant details, but it’s unclear if she used the same fraudulent license.
Cobb police confirmed that the department’s special victims unit is investigating the incident, but no additional details were released, including how officials found out Laws was allegedly working with the stolen license.
Hassinger said nurses who are not licensed or are using a stolen license to work are often caught by authorities after a patient reports them to the medical facility based on an interaction that seems suspicious.
“It’s the patients who say, ‘Something is not quite right about this.’ That’s how we catch them,” Hassinger said.