For 11 days last summer, Shawna Gunter worked as a physician assistant, treating 200 patients at a Centreville doctor's office and prescribing medication. But, authorities said Friday, the 36-year-old had no medical training.
Federal prosecutors said she got her job with documents that contained errors — including a license with a different last name — and now faces charges of wire fraud and aggravated identity theft. U.S. Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein called the allegations "very troubling."
Gunter, who lives in Severna Park, applied for the job in July 2013 and told police that she figured she could earn about $23,000 more than in her previous job by posing as a physician assistant, according to court records.
Gunter's paperwork appeared to be in order to her new boss, but it included several errors, investigators said. She used someone else's license, but it had been approved several months before she claimed to have received her physician assistant degree from Howard University, according to court documents.
She changed the first name on the license to match her own but forgot to change the last name to match hers, prosecutors said. The office manager at the practice noticed the error but assumed it was an innocent mistake and asked for a corrected copy, according to court documents.
For about six weeks, Gunter shadowed a doctor at the office and then on Aug. 18 began seeing patients solo, according to investigators. Over the course of 11 days she treated approximately 200 Medicaid patients.
Gunter's attorney didn't return calls seeking comment.
The head of the practice received an anonymous letter warning him that Gunter was not qualified for her job, and the doctor contacted state police. Gunter was arrested at work wearing a white lab coat with pockets stuffed with prescription pads, according to court documents.
Gunter was originally charged in Queen Anne's County, but the case was placed on an inactive docket in February.
Investigators with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, which worked on the case in addition to state police, said Gunter was using a prescription pad in the name of another doctor for whom she worked to obtain medications for her own child.
The child's father, who has full custody, told authorities that the medications were unnecessary and that he had been advised by a doctor to slowly wean the child off them, according to court documents.
Federal authorities arrested Gunter on Friday. She was brought to federal court in Baltimore for a brief hearing and is scheduled for another on Monday.