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Traveling nurse assistant claimed almost $20,000 in false benefits in Cheyenne

A nurse assistant is charged with fraud after claiming false benefits.

(Photo from the Laramie County Sheriff's Department)

CHEYENNE, Wyo. — A traveling nurse assistant has been charged with fraud after police believe she falsely claimed almost $20,000 in benefits from the Wyoming Department of Workforce Services.

Sophia Wakena Hardy, 35, has been charged with seven counts of forgery, which is a felony.

She is presumed innocent until proven guilty.

According to the affidavit of probable cause, Hardy was working as a traveling nurse assistant at Banner Medical Center in Casper in January 2021. She had injured her thumb during her time there, and a Report of Injury was submitted to the Wyoming Department of Workforce Services on Jan. 6, 2021. Hardy returned to her home in Georgia to receive treatment for the injury.

Hardy applied for Temporary Total Disability benefits on Jan. 11, 2021, and was set to have surgery in May 2021, court documents state. The surgery was delayed due to Hardy having a medical emergency, and she eventually had surgery on Feb. 10, 2022. In April 2022, Hardy had a post-operative exam and was cleared by her doctor to work, the documents state.

The department had provided disability benefits from January 2021 to April 2022.

It was after receiving documentation clearing Hardy for work that the department received several forms between April and September 2022 that continually delayed Hardy’s date to return to work. There were several explanations provided, including that Hardy had no use of the injured hand, and later it was stated she had no feeling in her injured hand due to post-operative complications, documents state.

On Sept. 23, 2022, the department received a letter from the doctor who had performed surgery on Hardy’s hand stating that all forms submitted between April 20 and Sept. 15 had not been filled out by the doctor, saying they had been forged by Hardy. The doctor said Hardy was cleared to work in April, and all forms submitted after April 20 were fraudulent.

Further investigation led to the suspicion that there were sections of the form whited out and printed over, as well as having the doctor’s signature copied and pasted from past documents to the false ones, court documents state.

In total, Hardy is accused of falsely claiming benefits from April to September 2022 that total $19,813.42.