CENTREVILLE, Md - As families go into the Centreville office of Dr. Julio Ramirez, it's with a sense of trust the titles used by the people who treat them are legitimate. But, police say the license for one former staffer there wasn't worth the paper on which it was printed.
A physician's assistant in Ramirez's office is accused of faking her medical paperwork and treating patients, even though she doesn't have a license. It's a tip we heard from the Eye on Annapolis blog -- a story that we dug to bring to light.
"The diplomas and certification that she provided were not authentic," said Queen Anne's County State's Attorney Lance Richardson.
Instead, court documents show the paperwork provided by Shawna Gunter, 36, of Annapolis, appear to be fake. Gunter is accused of playing doctor of sorts, accused of practicing as a physician's assistant without a license and other charges including fraud and issuing a false document.
"She forged her credentials to represent that she did. That's what the allegations are," Richardson said.
According to charging documents, Gunter is accused of stealing the name of a legitimate practitioner with a similar name and using that to create her own license. Those records show Gunter used the paperwork to obtain work at Ramirez's office in July, indicating she treated patients, provided medications and wrote prescriptions for the pediatric patients. Richardson says Ramirez was not aware Gunter had faked the documents when he agreed to hire her.
When Gunter was arrested at the clinic, those records show she was wearing a white doctor's coat and was carrying three prescription pads. She later told state police she faked the paperwork to get the job there, knowing she'd make a better salary. Gunter indicated to Maryland State Police that picking up the title of a physician's assistant would net her a $23,000 raise and a salary of $73,000.
ABC2 Investigators went to the home listed on court records as being Gunter's primary residence. A woman there told us she had no ties to Shawna. But, Anne Arundel County Police are aware of Gunter.
Charging documents in that county claim Gunter stole $14,400 from an Annapolis surgeon she was working for at Jutton Surgical Services, cutting a check while her boss was on vacation. The records show Gunter claimed it was a loan to deal with a sewage problem in her home. The doctor told police she was not paid back.
Gunter is charged with theft in that case on top of her legal battles in Queen Anne's County. State's Attorney Richardson says Gunter has to answer to the charges.
"We have to hold people accountable when they perpetrate frauds upon the public and protect the public," Richardson said.
Phone calls to numbers listed for Shawna Gunter were not returned. The Maryland Board of Physicians, which indicated it had no information about Gunter, was notified by ABC2 Investigators about the allegations in her case.