An alleged nurse impersonator worked at a fertility clinic in East Ottawa under the same name that British Columbia authorities had warned about a month earlier, CBC News has learned.
Brigitte Cleroux, 49, has a three-decade criminal record for fraud and other “crimes of dishonesty” in North America. In the latest series of charges against her, Ottawa Police Department detectives accused her of posing as a nurse and working at an Ottawa clinic administering injections to patients without being qualified to do so.
Ottawa police allege that Cleroux used both a forged resume in Ottawa and a fake British Columbia ID card with one of her known aliases – Melanie Smith – to get work in Ottawa.
According to the indictment, from July 25 to August 12, police “fraudulently personified Melanie Smith with the intent to gain advantage for herself, namely a job as a nurse at Originelle”.
Originelle is a fertility clinic and health center for women on Innes Road in Orleans. The clinic did not respond to questions from CBC News, including whether it checked her credentials before enlisting, or whether patients at the clinic had been notified that she was not a nurse.
Police further allege that Cleroux defrauded the fertility clinic for less than $5,000.
In the two-and-a-half weeks of her employment, detectives allege that Cleroux performed medical treatments and caused bodily harm by being criminally negligent regarding a list of unidentified victims. Cleroux is also accused of assaulting patients with a needle by performing medical injections for which she was not qualified.
Detectives have also charged her with using the name Melanie Gauthier on July 26 to find work at the same clinic.
BC public opinion issued
Nearly a month before she began working at the clinic, the British Columbia College of Nurses and Midwives released a “public advisory” informing employers and the general public that “Melanie Smith is not a registrant of (the college).”
That June 30 advisory, readily available on the college’s website, says the college “received a report that Melanie Smith set herself up as a registered nurse in British Columbia to seek employment at a hospital, dental clinic, and in residential care.”
The college warned that she may also use the names Melanie Thompson or Melanie Cleroux and that, regardless of the name, she has no right to work as a licensed nurse in that county.
The advisory also came with a warning to all employers that it was their “obligation to verify registration status for new employees in the roles of registered nurses, registered psychiatric nurses, licensed practice nurses, nurses and midwives.”
This can be done online or by a simple phone call.
Vancouver Police Investigate
When the Ottawa Police Department released the charges against Cleroux publicly, the police thanked the Vancouver Police Department for their assistance in the case.
CBC News has also learned that Cleroux, who allegedly went by the name Melanie Smith, worked at BC Women’s Hospital in Vancouver, administering sedatives and anesthetics to patients, among other things.
The BC 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 they are also investigating a case of a fake nurse.
“VPD is currently investigating an individual who allegedly posed as a nurse while working in Vancouver in 2020 and 2021,” said Sgt. said Steve Addison.
“We are investigating all possible links between the Ottawa and Vancouver cases. There have been no arrests or charges filed in connection with the VPD investigation and there is currently no security risk.”
Went to nursing school but was not certified
Cleroux’s Canadian and American court records tell the story of a woman who repeatedly lied to employers, the government and the police for decades.
According to a 2011 Alberta court ruling, Cleroux attended nursing school in Colorado, but she completed only 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 webpage to warn potential employers about people impersonating nurses.
Cleroux’s name has come up repeatedly in the Ottawa area, according to the college. Her name is Brigitte Marier, Brigitte Fournier, Melanie Cleroux, Melanie Gauthier, Melanie Thompson and Melanie Smith.
Nursing regulators in Alberta and British Columbia have also issued warnings related 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.
The Ottawa Police Department previously said they believe there may be other clinics and potential victims in the latest case.
Investigators are asking anyone with information about Cleroux or their ongoing investigation to call the Eastern Ottawa Police Department’s Tipline at 613-236-1222, extension. 5625.