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Alleged nurse impersonator worked at Ottawa fertility clinic

·4 min read
Brigitte Cleroux, 49, allegedly used and fraudulently posed as a registered nurse to get a job at a medical clinic in Ottawa. (Ottawa Police Service - image credit)
Brigitte Cleroux, 49, allegedly used and fraudulently posed as a registered nurse to get a job at a medical clinic in Ottawa. (Ottawa Police Service - image credit)

An alleged nurse impersonator worked at an east Ottawa fertility clinic under the same name British Columbia authorities had warned about one month earlier, CBC News has learned.

Brigitte Cleroux, 49, has a three-decade long criminal record for fraud and other "crimes of dishonesty" across North America. In the latest set of charges against her, Ottawa police east criminal detectives charged her with impersonating a nurse and working at an Ottawa clinic where she performed injections on patients without being qualified to do so.

Ottawa police allege Cleroux peddled both a forged resume in Ottawa and a fake British Columbia identity card using one of her known aliases — Melanie Smith — to get work in Ottawa.

According to the charges, police allege Cleroux "did fraudulently personate Melanie Smith with intent to gain advantage for herself, namely employment as a nurse at Originelle" from July 25 to August 12.

Originelle is a women's fertility clinic and health centre on Innes Road in Orléans. The clinic did not respond to questions asked by CBC News, which included whether it checked her credentials prior to employment, or if patients of the clinic have been notified she was not a nurse.

Police further allege Cleroux defrauded the fertility clinic of less than $5,000.

In the two-and-a-half weeks of her employment, detectives allege Cleroux performed medical treatment and caused bodily harm by being criminally negligent to a list of unidentified victims. Cleroux is also accused of assaulting patients with a needle by performing medical injections she was not qualified to perform.

Detectives have also charged her with using the name Melanie Gauthier on July 26 to secure employment with the same clinic.

B.C. public advisory issued

Nearly one month before she began work at the clinic, the British Columbia College of Nurses and Midwives issued a "public advisory" notifying employers and the general public "Melanie Smith is not a registrant of (the college)."

That advisory dated June 30, which is readily available on the college's website, says the college "received a report that Melanie Smith has held herself out as a registered nurse in British Columbia in order to seek employment in a hospital, dental surgery clinic, and in residential care."

The college warned she may also be using the names Melanie Thompson or Melanie Cleroux and, regardless of name, she is not entitled to practise as a registered nurse in that province.

The advisory also came with a warning to all employers it was their "obligation to verify the registration status for new employees in the roles of registered nurses, registered psychiatric nurses, licensed practical nurses, nurse practitioners, and midwives."

That could be done online or by a simple phone call.

Gian-Paolo Mendoza/CBC
Gian-Paolo Mendoza/CBC

Vancouver police investigating

At the time Ottawa police publicly announced the charges against Cleroux, the force thanked Vancouver police for their help in the case.

CBC News has also learned Cleroux, allegedly using the name Melanie Smith, was working at the B.C. Women's Hospital in Vancouver, where — among other things — she was allegedly administering sedatives and anesthetics to patients.

The B.C. Provincial Health Services Authority declined to comment, saying that "the matter is currently the subject of an ongoing police investigation."

The Vancouver Police Department (VPD) told CBC News that it, too, is investigating a case of a fake nurse.

"VPD is currently conducting an investigation related to a person who allegedly posed as a nurse while working in Vancouver in 2020 and 2021," Sgt. Steve Addison said.

"We are investigating any possible links between the Ottawa and Vancouver cases. No arrests have been made or charges laid related to the VPD investigation, and there is currently no safety risk."

Attended nursing school, but wasn't certified

Cleroux's Canadian and American court records tell the tale of a woman who lied repeatedly, over decades, to employers, the government, and police.

According to an Alberta court decision in 2011, Cleroux was in nursing school in Colorado but she only completed two years of the four-year nursing course and never earned her certification as a nurse.

The College of Nurses of Ontario lists Cleroux and her aliases on a web page to alert potential employers of people posing as nurses.

According to the college, Cleroux's name has come up repeatedly in the Ottawa area. She goes by the names Brigitte Marier, Brigitte Fournier, Melanie Cleroux, Melanie Gauthier, Melanie Thompson and Melanie Smith.

Nursing regulatory bodies in Alberta and British Columbia have also issued alerts connected to Cleroux.

Her crimes date back to at least 1991 when she was charged with impersonation and forgery in Quebec when she was 19, according to court documents.

Ottawa police previously said they believe there may be other clinics and potential victims in the latest case.

Investigators ask anyone with information about Cleroux or their ongoing investigation to call the Ottawa police's east criminal investigation section tip line at 613-236-1222, ext. 5625.

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