Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Police charge alleged fake nurse in relation with fake doctor case

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RCMP have quietly made a second arrest linked to their fraud probe of a former Manitoba chiropractor who allegedly pretended to be a licensed medical doctor for years.

Now Mounties believe a fake nurse was also involved.

Johanna Gruenke, 74, was formally charged in provincial court Wednesday with criminal fraud over $5,000 as well as an infraction under the Manitoba Medical Act.

RCMP allege between October 2007 and June 3 of this year, Gruenke defrauded the general public of an undisclosed amount of money by portraying herself as a nurse and someone entitled to engage in the practice of medicine.

In reality, a justice source told the Free Press Wednesday, police believe the Winnipeg resident has no medical background.

Gruenke's case ties into the RCMP's allegations against Leslie Colmer, 66, who was arrested in early June and is currently facing a slew of fraud charges.

Police said Colmer, 66, portraying himself as a medical doctor, made house calls and prescribed medications when he had no licence to do so.

The offences he's suspected of happened between 2003 and June 2014 in a number of communities, including Steinbach, Mitchell, Ste. Anne and Winnipeg, police believe.

Colmer ran a pseudo-clinic out of a Winnipeg home, RCMP have alleged.

Police suspect Gruenke assisted with clinic operations, the source said.

The operation was formerly located at a home on Stuart Avenue in North Kildonan, the source said.

The charges Gruenke faces have not been proven and she's presumed innocent.

There are elements to her case suggesting she may have been taken advantage of in some way, the source stated.

"From the sounds of it, she's as much of a victim as a co-accused," said the source.

Gruenke was arrested by RCMP June 4 and released on a promise to appear in court to answer to her charges.

Conditions on Gruenke's freedom include having no contact with Colmer, 10 alleged victims or any other person she may know to be a patient of his, court records state.

She was also ordered to stay in Manitoba and turn over her passport. A total dollar amount of the alleged fraud has yet to be fully realized, said the source.

Colmer was recently granted bail in provincial court, which lays out 14 conditions he must live under pending trial.

Among them are requirements to abide by a nightly curfew, not use the title of "doctor," and not practise "medical, dietary or alternative medical services."

He's also barred from contacting Gruenke.

The Manitoba Chiropractic Association suspended Colmer from practice in 2003.

A year later, the Manitoba Chiropractors Association revoked his licence for two years for professional misconduct.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition July 17, 2014 A8

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