PENN YAN — A woman accused of practicing as a midwife — but with apparently no qualifications to do so — has been indicted on 95 criminal counts, including criminally negligent homicide that is related to the death of a child.
Elizabeth Catlin, 53, was indicted Monday by a Yates County grand jury, said District Attorney Todd Casella.
The criminally negligent homicide charge is a class E felony, punishable by up to four years in state prison.
Additionally, Casella said Catlin faces 31 counts each of second-degree criminal possession of a forged instrument, first-degree falsifying business records and second-degree identity theft.
She also is charged with unauthorized practice of the profession of midwifery.
The indictment states that the “defendant, in the county of Yates, approximately between Jan. 2, 2017 and Nov. 28, 2018, not being authorized to practice midwifery, for which a license is a prerequisite, practiced or held herself out as being able to practice midwifery.”
Casella said the charges are the result of a joint investigation by State Police, the state Education Department and the District Attorney’s Office “in the unlawful practice of the profession of midwifery by Elizabeth Catlin.”
He said midwifery in New York requires a master’s degree in an appropriate field, “along with additional training, education and successful completion of a rigorous examination in New York State.”
Catlin was first charged in November 2018 in Ontario County by State Police on a state Department of Education felony charge of unauthorized practice of profession. Police said Catlin was posing as a midwife for many years, primarily exploiting pregnant Mennonite women in and around the Yates County area, but possessed none of the requirements to be a midwife.
The next month, charges were levied against Catlin in Yates County, including using a medical office staff member’s name to set up a fraudulent account with a Rochester medical lab.
Those charges, in multiple counts, are included the indictment handed up Monday in County Court.
Catlin is accused of using the name, address and phone number of a Penn Yan doctor’s office, as well as an office staff member’s name, to set up fraudulent accounts with medical labs that included false claims that the employee was either a physician’s assistant or a doctor.
Catlin also is accused of obtaining blood samples from her clients and sending them to the lab to be screened or tested using forged lab requisition forms.
The lab account and forged lab requisition forms enabled Catlin to conduct and obtain medical lab results, the indictment said.
First-degree criminal possession of a forged instrument is a class D felony, with a potential sentence of up to seven years in state prison.
Casella said a great amount of legwork went into the indictment against Catlin, who has received considerable support from the Mennonite community for her services.
“There were a lot of records that needed to be subpoenaed and reviewed to complete the investigation on what charges to bring and what would be appropriate,” he said. “It was a very thorough job by the agencies (involved).”
Casella would not expand on the criminally negligent homicide charge, which is new, other than to say that it was levied based on the evidence presented in grand jury.
Catlin is scheduled to be arraigned on the indictment in Yates County Court Jan. 7, but the matter is expected to be moved to Jan. 28, Casella said.
Catlin’s attorney, David Morabito, could not be reached for comment Tuesday.
New York does not allow lay midwives, while Connecticut, Nebraska, Ohio and West Virginia do.