Alleged nurse impersonator faces criminal charges

Samantha Rivera (Courtesy: KRQE)

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – An Albuquerque woman is in deep trouble for allegedly pretending she was a nurse. Investigators say she even managed to work in an intensive care unit before she was found out.

“I thought she was a traveling nurse,” said a neighbor who asked to remain anonymous.

Her neighbors in the Northeast Heights say 35-year-old Samantha Rivera always looked the part.

“She always had the scrubs on,” said the neighbor.

They never had any reason to think this New Mexico native was anything other than a trained medical professional.

Yet, according to a criminal complaint, Rivera had everyone fooled.

It’s based on a 2016 New Mexico Board of Nursing investigation alleging Rivera was a fraud.

The document reveals Rivera was hired at Brown Mackie College, teaching nursing classes in the fall of 2015. Administrators say she didn’t know what she was doing. After the semester, they ran a check and learned Rivera didn’t have a nursing license.

It wasn’t the only thing the nursing board said she lied about.

Rivera claimed she taught at the University of New Mexico, that she was a flight paramedic and said she graduated from Georgetown University with her master’s degree.

The board says none of it is true.

While Brown Mackie fired Rivera, she was still able to get a job somewhere else. The board says that’s because the school never reported she was an imposter.

Now, charging documents reveal Missouri police are investigating Rivera for impersonating a nurse. They say Rivera stole the identity of an actual nurse to get a job working in an ICU there.

“It makes me nervous. Anybody who says they’re something they’re not, it’s a danger to the community,” said Rivera’s neighbor David Brockington.

Meanwhile, Rivera’s neighbors are still trying to wrap their minds around how a story like this could hit so close to home.

“Extremely scary. Not just a little bit,” said Brockington.

According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Rivera was let go after a few months at the hospital in Missouri. She finally did herself in when she applied for a job with a staffing agency in Chicago and bombed her nursing test, the paper reports.

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