Police: Woman faked documents to work as nurse

GREENFIELD — A McCordsville woman passed herself off as a nurse to get a job providing medical care to people with disabilities in Hancock County, and she faked a cancer diagnosis while employed with the company in order to get time off, according to court records.

Ashley Trent, 29, was arrested this week on 11 felony charges, including 10 counts of forgery and one count of theft, and two misdemeanor charges of practicing nursing without a license. She pleaded not guilty Thursday in an initial hearing in Hancock Circuit Court and was released later that afternoon on a $2,000 cash bond.

Trent applied for a job as a personal support assistant at Developmental Service Alternatives in Greenfield in July 2012, according to court documents. The organization operates 16 group homes across Central Indiana for people with developmental disabilities.

In her application, Trent indicated she had completed nursing school, court documents state. The organization hired Trent as a personal support assistant but a few weeks later promoted her to medical coordinator. In this position, Trent oversaw the medical care of residents at several group homes in the area, court documents state.

In August 2012, Trent gave her employers documents indicating she had successfully completed the nursing board exam and received her nursing license, court records state. She was promoted again, this time to a nursing position.

Trent had been providing medical care for more than a year before investigators learned the documents were forged, police said.

Among her duties as a nurse, Trent kept medical records, assessed the health conditions of group home residents, made diagnoses and collaborated with health care providers about patient care. She also took after-hours calls about health issues residents, court documents state.

The nursing license Trent provided her employers reportedly authorized her to work as a nurse until October 2013, at which time she would be required to renew her certification. When she failed to do so after repeated inquiries from management, the company launched an internal investigation, court documents state.

As part of the investigation, company officials reviewed dozens of documents Trent had provided them, including reference letters from her past employers at Indiana University Health; letters proclaiming she had passed her boards and received her nursing license; and messages from the state nursing board about a computer glitch that had delayed her license renewal process — all of which were forged, investigators said.

Trent had completed nursing school, but she never obtained a nursing license, court documents state.

Investigators said Trent also faked a cancer diagnosis to receive time off work and to avoid being reprimanded for poor job performance, court documents state.

After telling her co-workers she had breast cancer, Trent regularly wore wigs or hats to work and took days off, saying she had chemotherapy treatments, records state. Her bosses were reluctant to discipline Trent, despite her work suffering during this time, investigators said.

“Trent’s co-workers rallied behind her,” court documents state. “In addition to the emotional support given to Trent, a couple of her co-workers obtained approval from (Developmental Service Alternatives) to give Trent their paid-time-off hours.”

As part of the internal investigation about Trent’s nursing license, Developmental Service Alternatives asked Trent to provide written documentation of her cancer care. She provided several statements about the diagnosis and treatment plan, which included signatures from an oncologist.

Investigators said they believe these documents, along with the doctor’s signatures, were forged as well. Doctors at an Indianapolis cancer center, where Trent claimed to receive treatments, told investigators Trent never came to their facility and had not been diagnosed there.

Trent resigned in 2014 after being told she was suspended for the investigation.

Trent’s case is a joint investigation by the Indiana Attorney General’s Office and Hancock County Prosecutor’s Office.

Trent faces 10 Class C felony charges of forgery; one Class D felony charge of theft; and two Class B misdemeanors of practicing nursing without a license. If convicted, she could face up to 84 years in prison.

Trent is scheduled to return to Hancock Circuit Court for a hearing in September.

Trent’s attorney, Bradley Banks of Indianapolis, did not return a call for comment.

DSA officials could not be reached.

A tentative trial date has been set for Dec. 15. 

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Caitlin VanOverberghe is a reporter at the Greenfield Daily Reporter. She can be reached at 317-477-3237 or cvanoverberghe@greenfieldreporter.com.