A Steamboat Springs woman is being held in the Routt County Jail on $500,000 bond, facing felony charges including criminal impersonation and forgery.
Sara Sue Foland, 48, of Steamboat Springs, was arrested in Missoula, Mont., on suspicion she impersonated an acquaintance, withdrew more than $30,000 from the woman's Steamboat Springs bank account and charged more than $14,000 on credit cards illegally obtained in the woman's name. At the time she was arrested, Foland was facing charges that she forged documents to get a job as a physician's assistant in a local doctor's office, and in that job, without legitimate state credentials, assisted in surgeries and office procedures and wrote numerous prescriptions for medications including controlled substances such as Percocet, Oxycontin and Valium.
Foland was arrested Sept. 11 in Missoula after she allegedly tried to purchase a $140,000 motor home using an assumed name as well as the alleged victim's name to obtain credit for the purchase, according to court documents. Police investigating the case suspect that Foland got a driver's license and passport in the alleged victim's name earlier in the summer. The victim, who used to live in Steamboat Springs, is 54 years old and works as a teacher in the Cherry Creek School District.
After obtaining the driver's license and passport in the woman's name, Foland reportedly withdrew $30,000 from the woman's bank account, according to court documents.
Before withdrawing the money, she reportedly attempted unsuccessfully to get a $30,000 unsecured loan in the victim's name.
"It appears that Ms. Foland attempted to take over another lady's identity and allegedly took money out of the woman's bank account and obtained an additional card on the lady's account and made numerous charges," Steamboat Springs Police Investigator Ross Kelly said. "Unfortunately, this happens a whole lot. The women had been acquaintances for an extended number of years, and (Foland) apparently took advantage of knowing the other lady."
Based on its investigation, the Steamboat Springs Police Department issued a warrant Sept. 10 for Foland's arrest on suspicion of theft of more than $15,000, forgery and criminal impersonation, all of which are felonies.
Kelly offered several tips to residents to protect themselves from becoming victims of identity theft or credit-card fraud:
n Always pay attention to charges and accounts. If you don't get your bills, notify your credit card company immediately.
n If you notice any problems or discrepancies in your bank accounts or credit-card statements, notify the bank or company immediately.
n Check your credit rating on a regular basis and see who is making inquiries into your credit rating. You should be familiar with any company making an inquiry (banks to which you have applied for loans, companies to which you have applied for credit cards, for example). If you are unfamiliar with an agency inquiring about your credit rating, ask questions.
n Pay attention to where you keep and use your credit cards.
n Guard your Social Security number and don't give it out unless necessary.
At the time Foland was arrested in Montana, she was out on bond on a different Routt County case that also involved forgery and criminal impersonation, as well as distribution of controlled substances.
According to court documents related to an investigation conducted by the District Attorney's Office, Foland allegedly forged an application for licensure as a physician's assistant.
Foland then got two medical jobs in Steamboat Springs: one as an operating room technician at Yampa Valley Medical Center and another as a physician's assistant at Orthopaedics of Steamboat Springs, where she worked from September 2003 to January 2004.
According to the DA investigator's report, during her time at Orthopaedics of Steamboat Springs, Foland worked as a full-time assistant to Dr. Michael Sisk. In that role, her duties included helping during surgeries, giving injections, applying and removing casts and writing prescriptions.
A search conducted by the doctor's office indicated that Foland had written at least 28 prescriptions for Schedule II controlled drugs, such as Percocet, Oxycodone, Oxycontin and Demerol. Sisk told the investigator he thought Foland was a credentialed physician's assistant.
Susan Miller, program director for the Colorado State Board of Medical Examiners, reportedly told the investigator that she thought Foland's physician's assistant application included forged and fraudulent information and that Foland was not licensed by Colorado as a physican's assistant.
Foland was arrested on suspicion of distribution of a Schedule II controlled substance, forgery of public records and criminal impersonation with intent to unlawfully gain a benefit for herself. She was released on $20,000 bond earlier in the year.
Foland is scheduled to appear in Routt County Court at 1 p.m. Wednesday.