KNOXVILLE (WATE) – A Knoxville woman was sentenced to 44 years in prison Friday for a crime spree that the district attorney’s office says includes stealing from her health care provider, impersonating a nurse in order to steal a hospital patient’s nurse and robbing an elderly woman at a grocery store.
Lea Ann Roberts, 53, was convicted of aggravated robbery, impersonating a licensed professional, unauthorized use of a credit card, unlawful possession of a handgun and three counts of forgery. She took a plea agreement that resulted in 44 years in prison.
Prosecutors said on August 18, 2015, Roberts went to an appointment with her health care provider at Cherokee Health. When the provider left the office, Roberts stole her purse and then made unauthorized purchases with the provider’s credit card at Walmart. She was quickly arrested by the Knoxville Police Department.
While on bond for that case, on November 8, 2015, the Knox County Sheriff’s Office was called to Ingles in Farragut where Roberts had robbed an 85-year-old woman who was loading groceries into her car. During the struggle, the elderly woman fell, breaking her leg and arm.
Twenty minutes later, at Parkwest Medical Center, prosecutors said Roberts walked into a patient’s room wearing medical scrubs and carrying a chart. She spoke to the patient, manipulated her IV machine and then took off with the patient’s purse.
Prosecutors say Roberts also stole her mother’s checkbook and pawned property belonging to other family members.
“This brazen career criminal targeted victims who were at their most vulnerable,” said DA Charme Allen. “She targeted the elderly, the infirm, and those that trusted her most. She earned every day of the lengthy sentence she received.”
Roberts has nine prior felony convictions for forgery and obtaining a controlled substance by fraud.