By Associated Press - Thursday, January 30, 2014

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - A woman accused of working as a nurse at an elementary school in Searcy while not holding a nursing license made a first appearance in federal court on Thursday after more than a year of eluding authorities.

Susan Elaine Boyce, 59, formerly of Pleasant Plains, was arrested Wednesday night in Howell County, Mo., by inspector general agents of the Social Security Administration and sheriff’s deputies.

Boyce was named in a seven-count indictment after authorities learned in July 2012 that she had worked for years as a nurse at Sidney Deener Elementary School but never held a valid nursing license.

Prosecutors allege Boyce used the nursing license numbers and Social Security numbers of other people to make it appear as though she was licensed. She also went by the names Suzanne Pitts and Suzanne Johnson, prosecutors said.

The charges include five counts of wire fraud and one count each of aggravated identity theft and misuse of a Social Security number.

At a brief appearance Thursday afternoon before U.S. Magistrate Judge Jerome T. Kearney, Boyce said she understood the charges but said little else.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Angela Jegley asked Kearney to keep Boyce in jail while awaiting trial.

“She is a flight risk and a danger to the community,” Jegley said.

Boyce, who pleaded not guilty, was ordered detained, but her public defender, Kim Driggers, said she may request a bond hearing later.

“Right now, we’ll agree to an order of detention,” Driggers said.

Boyce’s hands were free during the hearing but her ankles were chained. After the proceeding, she signed a number of papers and was led away.

Kearney set a March 3 trial date and assigned the case to U.S. District Judge Brian Miller.

After Boyce’s alleged scheme was exposed, school officials said no parents had complained about the quality of care their children received from Boyce. She’d worked at the school from 2006 through 2012.

The Arkansas Nursing Board’s website showed that Boyce had never been licensed as a nurse in Arkansas.

In 2012, Fred Knight, attorney for the board, said Boyce helped diabetic children, provided oral medication and gave injections.

The Nursing Board said Boyce had also worked in the White County School District.

U.S. Attorney Christopher Thyer credited federal agents with finding Boyce.

“We could not rest knowing she might try to pose as a nurse in some other town to get another health care-related position in a school or other facility. The health and safety of anyone who would have trusted she was a qualified health care provider was at risk. Thankfully, people no longer have to worry now that she is in custody,” Thyer said in a news release.

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