Nurse impersonator gets prison time

INDIANAPOLIS — A Columbus woman who used identity deception to pose as a registered nurse has been sentenced in federal court in Indianapolis.

Holly Marie Whyde, 45, was sentenced to 2½ years in a federal institution, as well as an additional two years in a supervised release program, according to court documents.

Under federal law, the former Osage Court resident could have been ordered to serve up to seven years in prison, but U.S. District Judge Jane Magnus-Stinson agreed to a less severe sentence as part of a plea agreement during Thursday’s sentencing hearing, court records state.

But the judge is also strongly recommending that Whyde, who resided in Greenwood and Franklin before coming to Columbus, be provided mental health treatment. Terms of her probation include both continued psychiatric care and taking all prescribed medications, the court order stated.

Whyde is believed to have worked at assisted-living facilities and home-care-giving businesses in south central Indiana, Columbus Police Department spokesman Lt. Matt Harris said.

In December, Columbus Police Department Detective Chris Couch received a tip involving identity deception regarding a registered nurse in northern Indiana, Harris said.

Couch determined that Whyde used a nurse’s identity to gain employment over a four-year period at several Indiana health care businesses, included two in Columbus, the police spokesman said.

During a two-month investigation, Couch learned Whyde is believed to have worked primarily in an administrative role but also provided some patient care, Harris said.

After her Feb. 18 arrest, Whyde was prepared to enter a guilty plea as early as March 1, according to court documents.

However, a formal change of plea hearing was delayed as she sought new legal representation, eventually resulting in the hiring of Franklin attorney Brian Newcomb, court records state.

During her first court appearance March 11, Whyde waived her rights to both a detention hearing and a formal arraignment, records state. A few months later, she entered a guilty plea May 19.

The judge also ordered Whyde to pay a $500 fine, as well as various other court fees.

While court documents revealed the nurse impersonator engaged in a unspecified amount of illegal drug use, Magnus-Stinson stated on the record that she believes Whyde poses a low risk of future substance abuse.