In October 2013, the District of Columbia Board of Nursing issued a warning that said Taiwo Sobamowo, 32, used somebody else’s license number to get a job as a registered nurse at a hospice facility in Washington. But her plan apparently unraveled when a background check revealed convictions in Minnesota and a warrant for her arrest.
That alert was added to a database maintained by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing. A judge in Washington also issued a warrant for Sobamowo’s arrest on a charge of practicing nursing without a license, according to a spokesman for the DC Department of Health.
But the warning and the arrest warrant didn’t prevent Sobamowo from landing a job at the suburban Atlanta hospice where she was in charge of caring for Brown, the 22-year-old daughter of singers Bobby Brown and the late Whitney Houston. Bobbi Kristina died July 26 at Peachtree Christian Hospice in Duluth, Georgia, six months after she was found face-down and unresponsive in the bathtub of her townhome. Police continue to investigate her death, and a cause has not been released.
A police report shows no indication that Brown’s care was affected by Sobamowo.
Sobamowo was arrested Sunday in Raleigh, North Carolina, but has been transferred back to Georgia and is expected to have an initial court appearance Thursday.
She was being held on charges of financial identity fraud, forgery and practicing nursing without a license. She also could face identity fraud and forgery charges in Roswell, where her employer is based, police said.
It’s not clear if she has an attorney.
Sobamowo was hired by Homestead Hospice in September 2014 and fired Aug. 5 when she couldn’t provide proof of a license, according to the Georgia Board of Nursing. Sobamowo used the license number belonging to a person with a similar first name to secure the jobs in both Georgia and Washington, according to the board.
Mariam “Lola” Savage, a friend of Sobamowo who lives in Chicago, said she was stunned and heartbroken when another friend showed her a news report on the case.
Savage said she visited Sobamowo in Atlanta in early September. During a car ride, Savage said, Sobamowo confided in her that she had been caring for Bobbi Kristina.
“My reaction was, ‘Oh my God! That’s so cool. Why didn’t you tell me?’ She said, ‘No, we’re not allowed to,’“ Savage recalled. “She didn’t give me that much detail.”
Savage said she heard from a relative about Sobamowo’s troubles in D.C., but Sobamowo “swore to me that it was all cleared up, and there was nothing to worry about.”
Authorities said Sobamowo’s employment records indicated she attended a medical college in the nation’s capital, but they couldn’t find any evidence of that. The alert issued by Washington’s nursing board said Sobamowo wasn’t licensed as a registered nurse anywhere in the U.S.
It’s not clear how and when she came under scrutiny by Georgia regulators.
Georgia’s Secretary of State spokesman David Dove said the agency has begun an investigation but declined further comment.
In a statement, Homestead Hospice CEO Mallie Sharafat said the company performed a background check and reviewed Sobamowo’s references from other health care agencies.
“We had no reason to believe that she was anything other than a good nurse with proper credentials,” Sharafat wrote.
But a cease-and-desist order issued by the DC Department of Health says an August 2013 background check showed Sobamowo had been convicted of check forgery and other offenses in Minnesota. She also apparently faced theft charges in Maryland and a charge of passing a bad check in Missouri, according to the order.
Paula Sanders, executive director of the Georgia Hospice and Palliative Care Organization, said registered nurses in hospice facilities will bathe, change and feed a patient or make sure those tasks happen. Responsibilities also include providing medication, providing updates, and making conversation with patients and their family members to ensure their comfort.