Psychiatric ward suggested for fake nurse, therapist testifies in court
The woman who posed as a nurse and put lives at risk appeared in Federal Court Friday for sentencing.
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - Court officials say they’ll spend the next two weeks involved in the sentencing of Misty Dawn Jones, nee Bacon, a woman who pleaded guilty to posing as a nurse.
Misty Dawn Bacon Jones signed a federal plea agreement on December 12, 2019, admitting to wire fraud, health care fraud and using another person’s identification to commit federal crimes. Jones faces up to 45 years in federal prison, fines of up to $750,000 and restitution that could go up to $750,000.
As part of the agreement, Misty Dawn Bacon Jones, a convicted felon, admitted to providing fake information so that she could obtain nursing jobs.
Between 2012 and 2018, Jones, worked for eight different healthcare providers. While posing as a nurse, she submitted several false entries in patients’ medical records. She also submitted fake claims to healthcare benefit programs. Upon learning she was not a real registered nurse, two of her former employers voluntarily repaid benefit programs a combined amount of more than $500,000 for those fake claims.
A witness for the prosecution, Denise Bohnert a compliance officer with Amedysis, told the court that the company lost $487,652. General counsel said Jones damaged 396 patients in a 12-month period with the company and that patients were notified via overnight letters.
“This was a prolonged, deliberate, successful misrepresentation,” said Dave Kemerly, Senior Vice President of Amedysis. “Had she had not been caught, she may have been out there today.”
Bacon agreed to plead guilty to the charges more than three months after WVLT News Anchor Amanda Hara exposed her in a WVLT News investigation. In that investigation, a real nurse named Misty Dawn Venett told Hara that Bacon Jones stole her nursing license number to obtain jobs providing health care at various businesses in East Tennessee.
During her reporting on the case, WVLT News Anchor Amanda Hara found and interviewed a victim of Bacon Jones’, Clyde Harless. He told WVLT News that Jones was working for Interim Healthcare when she showed up at his Morristown home in April of 2013 to give him insulin through his food bag. Clyde said he remembered her, “coming in, putting the food bag on me, and leaving. I remember getting tired, and I sorta went out.”
“He was drooling, he couldn’t hold his head up, he couldn’t sit up or nothing,” his wife Lois recalled.
Clyde was taken to the now-closed Lakeway Regional Hospital that same day. Hospital records from that visit show he was admitted because of an overuse of insulin.
Federal prosecutors later used Hara’s interview with Harless to bolster their case against Bacon. They contacted and interviewed Harless, whose account was outlined in the plea agreement.
Bacon Jones risked seriously hurting or even killing patients, according to court documents, “She began rendering actual medical care to patients, began dispensing medications to patients, and obtained invasive access to patients. Defendant created a risk of serious bodily injury and, in some circumstances, even death to patients--often suffering or recovering from serious medical conditions.”
During the court proceedings Friday, a family therapist for Jones, Teresa Fletcher, suggested a psychiatric ward for Bacon Jones’ and identified cognitive distortions in her mind. “There are cognitive distortions in her mind that make it okay for her to do certain things,” said Fletcher. Jones was seen crying when Fletcher made the statement.
According to the plea agreement, she was employed at the following health care companies as a health care provider:
- Premier Support Services, d/b/a Interim Home Healthcare and Interim Health Care of East Tennessee
- Jefferson Operator, LLC d/b/a Jefferson City Health and Rehabilitation Center
- Hillcrest Healthcare Communities, Inc. d/b/a Grace Healthcare and d/b/a Beverly Park Place
- Dr. Harry A. Zain d/b/a Five Rivers OBGYN
- Camellia Home Health of East Tennessee d/b/a Camellia Home Health; Almost Family, Inc. d/b/a Suncrest Home Health
- Life Care Centers of America d/b/a Life Care of Jefferson City; and Amedisys Holding, LLC.
Court documents show Bacon has used a number of aliases, including: Misti Hurst-Holloway, Misti A. Hollaway, Misty Dawn Laton, Misty Hodges, Misty Dawn Bacon, Misty Dawn Hollaway-Venett, Misty Venett Bacon, Misty Dawn Hurst, and Misty Dawn Hodges.
The punishment for wire fraud is up to 20 years in prison, and a fine up to $250,000, or both. The punishment for health care fraud carries up to 10 years in prison and a fine up to $250,000, or both. The punishment for using another person’s means of identification with intent to commit Federal offenses and state felonies is imprisonment of not more than fifteen years, a fine of not more than $250,000, or both.
The judge said the court wants to determine restitution and meet again by the end of the month for Bacon Jones’ sentencing.
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