Southern California woman charged with felony and misdemeanor counts.
A Long Beach woman has been charged with felony counts of identity theft and obtaining money by false pretenses, along with a misdemeanor count of practicing occupational therapy without a license.
Maria Dna Tan Espejo was arrested at her home in February 2016, after an investigation conducted by the Lakewood Field Office of the Department of Consumer Affairs’ Division of Investigation.
Espejo is accused of initially falsifying an occupational therapist license issued by the state of Illinois, which she presented in order to gain employment as an occupational therapist in Long Beach in 2009. When her employer asked Espejo to provide her California license, Espejo allegedly created a falsified license using the name and license number of an occupational therapist from Northern California.
From 2009 through August 4, 2015, Espejo worked as an occupational therapist using the false licenses. During an audit by her employer in 2015, Espejo was asked to present her original occupational therapist license, but failed to do so. A subsequent investigation by her employer revealed discrepancies in the formatting of the falsified California and Illinois licenses which she had previously submitted. The Department of Consumer Affairs’ Board of Occupational Therapy was notified and confirmed that Espejo was not a licensee.
Investigators learned that between 2012 and 2015, Espejo earned wages in excess of $287,000. Espejo also caused her employer to bill Medicare, Medi-Cal and private health insurance companies for treatments that would not have been covered if it was known that they were provided by an unlicensed individual.
On February 26, 2016, Espejo pled not guilty to all counts. She will next appear in Los Angeles Superior Court on May 17, 2016. This case is being prosecuted by the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office.