Caregiver license suspended after theft charges

Posted at 11:14 PM, Oct 14, 2016
and last updated 2016-10-15 01:14:26-04

The Colorado Board of Nursing has suspended the license of a home health care aid accused of stealing jewelry from clients and pawning it.

But records obtained by Denver7 show that a home health care agency knew about other theft accusations months ago.

According to the Order of Summary Suspension from the State Board of Nursing, Huguley was terminated from Maxim Healthcare in June "for three different thefts from patients."

Records state Maxim later learned that Huguley had a theft case pending in El Paso County, in which she was charged on April 1, 2016, with one count of theft ($300-$700).

Following her termination, though, police said Huguley continued to work as a home health care aid with a valid license.

During the time, she is accused of stealing from additional clients who trusted her in their homes.

According to the Simla Chief of Police, another potential victim came forward Friday, bringing the total to 14, and investigators expect there could be more.

Huguley is now facing charges in the 18th Judicial District of theft of $500 or more from an at-risk elder, giving false information to a pawnbroker, as well as other theft and drug charges.

Huguley has been a C.N.A. in Colorado since 2008, but the state board took emergency action Friday to summarily suspend her license.

"This action stops Ms. Huguley from practicing completely as a Certified Nursing Aide (CNA) in Colorado and is the most aggressive immediate action available to the Division of Professions and Occupations against her license," wrote Lee Rasizer, a spokesperson for the Division of Profession and Occupations.

Maxim Healthcare declined a request for an interview, but issued this statement:
We are aware of the charges against this former employee and, as a result, will be reviewing her time with us in order to see whether we are able to provide further assistance to the local authorities as they investigate this matter. The care and safety of our patients is our highest priority and we take the trust they place in us very seriously. Maxim follows strong and appropriate protocols regarding background screening of its employees. - Rebecca Kirkham, Maxim spokesperson

For some in the home health care industry, though, the thefts raise red flags.

"They [Maxim] should have reported her to the State after the first occurrence," said David Geras, the CEO of Denver-Based GoldLeaf Home Health. 

Geras said home health care agencies are required to report crimes against the elderly, such as theft, so he wonders why Huguley wasn't investigated months ago. 

"When these things happen, it gives our industry a black eye and makes people even more resistant because of it," Geras said.

He recommended consumers look for agencies that do extensive, national background checks and random drug and alcohol tests, as well as checking referrals.

Also, he said, lock up valuables and immediately report anything suspicious.

"It's important to educate the common consumer what they should do to protect themselves," said Geras.

The National Association for Home Care and Hospice and more tips here.


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