State officials want to know how a woman licensed as both a nurse and psychiatric technician could admit to a federal felony and then continue to work at Patton State Hospital – even after she was sentenced and on parole.
Angela Alicia Sanker, whom state records identify as Angela Jackson, remains licensed despite a 2014 sentence for fraudulently obtaining a passport. Felony convictions are grounds for the state to revoke medical professionals’ licenses.
But beyond that, the Sanker case reveals a slack in bureaucratic trip wires that are supposed to run between government agencies when a licensed public employee in a hospital, prison or law enforcement agency runs afoul of the law.
A spokesman for the Board of Vocational Nursing and Psychiatric Technicians that licensed Sanker said officials there didn’t know about her 2013 federal indictment and sentencing last year until a Sacramento Bee reporter called on Wednesday, despite laws that require federal and state agencies to share such information.
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“When it comes to her arrest notification,” Russ Heimerich said, “we did not get one.”
Nor did the board know about Sanker’s plea agreement, which reduced her sentence from the maximum penalty of 10 years in federal prison and a fine of up to $250,000 to two years of federal probation.
Sanker’s attorney, Steven Kahn, said his client did nothing wrong aside from making a “poor decision” to fraudulently obtain a passport and was an “exemplary” state employee. And, he said, her bosses at Patton knew about the federal crime.
“She was here legally, but she was not a citizen,” Kahn said. “She is paying her debt to society.”
When she was licensed, she presented a Social Security number. It might have been legitimate. It might not have been.
Russ Heimerich, speaking for the Board of Vocational Nursing and Psychiatric Technicians
Now that the licensing board is aware of the matter, it is launching an investigation, Heimerich said, that will also “look into the veracity” of Sanker’s 1996 nursing license, for which she was never fingerprinted.
“When she was licensed, she presented a Social Security number,” Heimerich said. “It might have been legitimate. It might not have been.”
The Department of State Hospitals, which employed Sanker as a unit supervisor at Patton in Southern California, was similarly unaware of her crime, spokesman Ralph Montano said.
Reached by telephone at her San Bernardino home on Wednesday, Sanker declined to answer questions about her case, other than to assert that she “had a visa since 1999.”
Court records indicate that Sanker obtained a passport in 2004 by using a false name, “Angelique Monique Jackson,” a false Social Security number and false claims that she was born in Los Angeles in 1967.
In fact, according to the plea agreement, Sanker was born in Jamaica in 1956. She told the court that she came to America on a visa in 1985. She, her son and her husband, Ransford Sanker, fled to escape threats against her family, she told the court in her personal statement, by individuals whom her husband owed money. The couple divorced in 1999.
Meanwhile, in 1996, she received state licensing as both a psychiatric technician and a licensed vocational nurse, state records show. In 1999, she took a state job as a psychiatric technician.
However, Heimerich said, when Sanker received her license in the mid-1990s, the state did not fingerprint LVNs or psychiatric technicians. Although the state later applied the requirement retroactively, Sanker’s file lacks those records.
Heimerich said it is not clear why, but her case is not unique. About 4,000 other longtime LVNs and psychiatric technicians, roughly 3 percent of those licensed by the board, do not have fingerprints on file. The board this week sent letters reminding that group that they must be fingerprinted, Heimerich said.
Sanker’s position with the Department of State Hospitals is classified as a public-safety job. Beyond the usual professional state licensing, state hospital medical staff undergo Justice Department background checks akin to those mandated for police and prison job candidates.
In 2004, Sanker had been employed for five years when she heard that her mother in Jamaica was seriously ill: “She was asking to see me and ... refusing to eat,” Sanker wrote in her statement to the court.
Out of desperation, she gave $10,000 to a man she met at a market who said he was an immigration attorney, she wrote, and more money to a woman who said her name was Angelique Jackson. Sanker said she used the woman’s information to obtain the passport.
Federal authorities somehow became aware of the fraud and nine years later indicted Sanker. She pleaded guilty in Riverside federal court after agreeing to the reduced sentence, which was filed March 2014, court records show. The terms included four months of home detention and electronic-location monitoring.
State Hospitals records show that Sanker continued to work at Patton State Hospital until May 9, 2014, Montano said in an email. She then used leave credits to continue receiving paychecks and benefits through Sept. 30, 2014.
At that point, according to CalPERS records, Sanker retired as a unit supervisor with 16 years and 218 days of service time on the books, including the months after her parole was filed. Her October pension amount: $2,917.