Los Angeles police detectives said Thursday their investigation into an alleged identity thief who worked as a surgical assistant inside prominent LA area hospitals was rapidly expanding, and the amount of money stolen in the case was already in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.
James Shannon, also known as James Sannon, was being held in lieu of $1.1-million bail on suspicion he used a stolen credit card to attempt to purchase season tickets to the Los Angeles Clippers for $17,000.
Investigators said they found a trove of identity theft evidence when they served a search warrant at Shannon's high rise apartment on Figueroa Street in downtown, which was allegedly rented for more than $10,000 a month under another stolen identity.
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"There were driver's licenses from different states, social security cards with numbers that did not belong to him, and charges and bills under the names of different individuals," said LAPD Capt. Lillian Carranza, the commanding officer of the department's Commercial Crimes Division, which investigates complex identity theft and forgery cases.
Of growing concern was the discovery that Shannon, 36, had been working inside operating rooms at a number of hospitals as a surgical assistant, but Carranza said detectives had not been able to find evidence he was qualified or permitted to do the work.
"For this type of work in the medical field an individual should have some type of certification, degree, or licensing," she told the NBC4's I-Team on Thursday. "What raised a red flag, is we searched through our databases, state databases, and we were not able to find any type of schooling, licensing, or credentials for Mr. Shannon."
The LAPD declined to publicly name the hospitals, as it's possible Shannon was working under different names or was given access to the hospitals through employment by a third-party medical staffing service. Several hospitals contacted by NBCLA said Shannon was not a staff employee but declined to discuss whether he was hired through an outside contractor.
Consumer advocate Jamie Court with the group Consumer Watchdog said the arrest renews concerns hospitals aren't doing enough to screen workers who have intimate access to patients.
"It's outrageous, but it can happen real easily when a hospital doesn't check on the background of everybody who works in that hospital, and in this case, they had a criminal," Court told NBC News.
At the time of the alleged offenses in LA Shannon was wanted on a felony identity theft case in San Bernardino County, where he was accused of using a stolen ID to try to lease an apartment, according to the Chino Police Department.
That followed an identity theft report at San Antonio Community Hospital in Rancho Cucamonga in 2017, where Shannon worked as a contract surgical assistant. He was terminated as soon as an identity theft allegation was made, according to a hospital spokesman.
When Shannon began working at San Antonio he had already served prison time in California after he admitted in 2013 to being a felon in possession of a gun. In 2012 Shannon pleaded no contest to a felony burglary case, according to LA County Superior Court records.