Nine years after Jefferson County resident Misty Dawn Holloway went to federal prison for stealing money from her one-time employer – a bank – she was considering alternate career paths when she landed on nursing, according to court documents.
But unlike other aspiring registered nurses, Holloway, who now signs her name Misty D. Bacon, considered science and math botherations, and the four or more years it would take to complete her studies were way too long to wait. Rather than taking the conventional path to a healthcare career, Holloway opted to bypass formal education altogether and wing it.
For six years and two months, Holloway, 42, found employment as a registered nurse – with varying degrees of failure – at a Morristown doctor’s office, nursing homes, rehabilitation and assisted-living facilities and as an in-home care nurse for shut-in patients, according to Assistant U.S. Attorney Mac D. Heavener III.
Detective Lt. Eric Thomas with the Jefferson City Police Department said Wednesday afternoon that Holloway’s fraud ended in January while she was working for Amedisys Home Health.
Someone who feared that a healthcare provider with no education could do harm – or someone who just wanted to throw Holloway under the bus – tipped off Amedisys that Holloway didn’t have a professional license. During a subsequent noncustodial interview with Thomas and a Tennessee Bureau of Investigation agent, more than six years of deception ended.
Another significant milestone in the case came Wednesday when a 27-page plea agreement and nine-page criminal information were unsealed in U.S. District Court in Greeneville. Without having been indicted, Holloway will plead guilty to wire fraud, heath-care fraud and using another person’s identification to commit federal and state felonies.
The plea agreement indicates Holloway will be on the hook for a $207,000 money judgment and between $212,000 and $752,500 in restitution. The reason for the large difference is that billing resulted from patient assessments that Holloway was not qualified to conduct.
U.S. District Judge Clifton L. Corker will decide the how much Holloway will pay before she’s sentenced. The maximum penalty for the most serious offense, wire fraud, is 20 years in federal prison.
While Holloway has a prior felony conviction for stealing money from a bank, she very likely does not have a criminal history that would warrant a top-of-the-range sentence. Also, the plea agreement is the result of negotiations between Heavener and Holloway’s attorney, federal public defender Nikki Pierce, who had no incentive to deal for the maximum possible sentence.
Money for nothing
Nobody’s ever said that landing a registered nurse’s job without a professional license is easy, but that obstacle was no hill for a lying climber like Holloway. She scoured the directory of actual registered nurses until she found names that resembled hers, and she was off and running, according to her plea agreement.
“When questioned about why the name associate with the registered-nurse license was different from (her) identification documents, (Holloway) usually would tell potential employers that she had changed her name by marriage or provide some other false reason for why her last name did not match the name on the nursing license she was using,” the plea agreement states.
Before landing a job at Amedisys, Holloway found employment as a registered nurse at Dr. Harry A. Zain’s Five Rivers OBGYN, Interim Home Healthcare, Jefferson City Health and Rehabilitation Center, Grace Healthcare, Camellia Home Health, Suncrest Home Health, Life Care Center of Jefferson City, according to a plea agreement.
There is no allegation that any health-care provider was complicit in the fraud. The plea agreement states multiple times that Holloway’s former employers would not have hired her if they had known she did not have a professional license. The registered-nurse database to which the employers had access does not include photographs.
Holloway’s fraud began in September 2012 and concluded in November 2018. The heath risk Holloway posed to patients was “more than hypothetical,” according to the plea agreement, which details incidents that prove ignorance isn’t always bliss.
She was working at a home-health agency in March 2013 when she was assigned to treat a Morristown woman returned to her residence after being treated in a hospital for pancreatitis. The woman required insulin. Through a feeding apparatus, Holloway administered a “10-fold greater amount than was prescribed,” according to the plea agreement.
The woman suffered hypoglycemia – low blood sugar – and was hospitalized for three days to fix the problem Holloway caused, the plea agreement states.
In June 2014, Holloway was charged with documenting patients’ blood-sugar levels in their charts. She didn’t know how to perform the test, so she pulled numbers out of the air and recorded them in the patients’ charts, the plea agreement states.
“The dangers included (Holloway) performing procedures she was not qualified to perform, letting needed procedures go unperformed because she recognized her lack of qualifications to perform them, failing to properly document and update patient files with the types of information that a real registered nurse would not, and, in some cases, falsifying medical records,” the plea agreement states.