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'I've had it': Alleged B.C. nurse impersonator makes another court appearance

A woman already convicted of posing as a nurse at Ottawa medical and dental clinics is alleged to have posed as a nurse at BC Women's Hospital for a year.
2021-09-01 nurse fraud ottawa
Brigitte Cleroux. Photo: Ottawa Police Service

A woman serving prison time in Ontario for posing as a nurse made another B.C. court appearance July 11 for similar crimes in this province. 

Brigitte Cleroux received a seven-year sentence after pleading guilty to seven charges in Ontario, including assault, assault with a weapon, fraud and impersonation. The offences took place at Ottawa medical and dental clinics.

She was due in Vancouver Provincial Court June 26 for arraignment but that didn't happen.

Cleroux, appearing via video Tuesday, seemed to be ready to plead guilty.

The court heard a plea agreement is in place and that an agreed statement of facts is almost complete.

“This has been going on for 21 months. I’ve had it,” Cleroux said. 

“Whatever she asks for,” Cleroux said referring to the Crown position, “I’ll take it.”

However, the issue of her having a lawyer remained.

Chris Johnson had been Cleroux’s counsel until she fired him several weeks ago. He appeared July 12 as a friend of the court to assist in the case.

He told Judge Jennifer Oulton he had sent Cleroux the names of seven lawyers via her daughter.

“I did make contact with seven attorneys and none of them will take my case,” Cleroux said.

Johnson said he’d only sent the list that morning so Cleroux could not have seen them yet.

He said at least three of the lawyers have indicated they would take Cleroux on as a client.

Soon, Cleroux added, “Mr. Johnson, you can go now. You are not on my case.”

“I’m not representing you,” he responded. “I’m here as a friend of the court.”

The case has been marked in almost every appearance by communication problems. On July 11, guards were going to bring someone else into the video room and left the court waiting while they went and found Cleroux. 

Earlier bickering

On July 5, she was in front of Judge Ellen Gordon via video after having fired Johnson. 

Crown prosecutor Patti Tomasson told the judge Cleroux had discharged Johnson, and that another lawyer had been spoken with about conducting the defence.

“Ms. Cleroux does not seem to be in agreement with that,” Gordon said.

It was suggested Cleroux might have Jim Heller as her lawyer.

“No, I’m not,” Cleroux said, adding she had let Johnson go but that he had since agreed to stay on.

Tomasson said she’d spoken to Johnson before court and he was off the case. She said legal aid was arranging for new counsel and information was going to Heller.

“He is not going to represent me,” Cleroux said. “You can’t assign me new counsel. I don’t agree with that.”

After some back and forth, it was decided the judge and Crown would contact Johnson to see if he would take the case.

But Cleroux wasn’t done.

“I’ll just represent myself,” she said.

“I don’t think so,” Gordon countered.

Tomasson said the charges are serious and Cleroux representing herself would raise concerns.

The case

The charges and conviction came after parallel Ottawa Police Service and Vancouver Police Department (VPD) investigations, which alleged the Gatineau, Que. woman posed as a nurse to treat patients in Ontario.

“Some of those duties included the administration of medications, including injections, to patients,” Ottawa police said.

In Vancouver, Cleroux faces charges of assault, assault with a weapon, fraud over $5,000, using forged documents and personation with intent to gain advantage.

The initial charges were approved in November after the VPD launched a months-long investigation. The investigation was spurred by reports of a BC Women’s Hospital employee allegedly fraudulently identifying herself as a nurse between June 2020 and June 2021.

VPD’s Financial Crime Unit found a woman had allegedly fraudulently used the name of a real nurse while providing medical care to patients at the hospital.

Cleroux remains in Grand Valley Institution in Kitchener, Ont. It remains to be seen whether she would be in person in Vancouver for the sentencing. That would be up to the sentencing judge.

There is also civil court action running in tandem with B.C proceedings and completed Ontario ones.