A man with a lengthy history of faking his physiotherapy credentials, including during his time in the Canadian Forces, was until recently working under an assumed name as a manager in Atlantic Canada's largest hospital system, CBC News has learned.
Sources say Kelvin Cheung, who was convicted this week in Winnipeg of pretending to be a licensed physiotherapist, was hired last fall as the manager of assistive technology at the Nova Scotia Rehabilitation and Arthritis Centre in Halifax.
The centre describes itself as "providing specialized adult rehabilitation and complex continuing care."
The 32-year-old man, whom co-workers knew as Karl, stopped working at the centre this spring — several months before the College of Physiotherapists of Manitoba tipped off its counterparts in Nova Scotia that he was reportedly working in the province under an alias.
Joan Ross, registrar of the Nova Scotia College of Physiotherapists, said she was told Cheung's work at the centre did not involve physiotherapy. She said in her 20 years as registrar, she's never encountered a case like this.
She said the situation is "concerning enough that nationally we're keeping tabs on him."
The Nova Scotia Health Authority declined to comment on Cheung except to say that he is no longer an employee.
Cheung did not respond to an interview request from CBC News.
Regulator watching Cheung for some time
Cheung has been on the radar of the Canadian Alliance of Physiotherapy Regulators (CAPR), the umbrella organization that represents physiotherapy regulators across the country, for several years.
Though he graduated from the physiotherapy program at the University of Manitoba, he failed his clinical exam in June 2012 and has never been licensed to practise. He has repeatedly fabricated regulatory credentials in order to secure employment.
Regulators in Manitoba and Ontario issued public notifications that Kelvin Kar Hang Cheung was not allowed to identify himself as a physiotherapist and was not eligible to practise.
The Ontario notice, dated March 2014, said Cheung had been "holding himself out as a physiotherapist" in Dryden, Ont., and possibly other locations.
Forging documents to land job
On Tuesday, he pleaded guilty in Winnipeg provincial court to charges of forgery and false representation as a physiotherapist between June and July 2015 under Manitoba's Physiotherapists Act.
The charges were laid after he was fired as a family patient-care manager at a Winnipeg hospital, where he used forged documents to get the job.
Cheung was sentenced to two years of probation and fined $6,500. He was also ordered not to represent himself as a licensed professional unless he has a valid licence and professional designation.
The CAPR said in a statement all provincial regulators were made aware of Cheung when he was under investigation by the College of Physiotherapists of Manitoba.
Court martial for fake certificate
It's not the first time Cheung's lies have landed him in legal hot water.
In 2010, following his graduation from university, Cheung was an army lieutenant at Canadian Forces Base Shilo in Manitoba where he was posted to a medical centre.
According to a court martial ruling, Cheung submitted a fake physiotherapy competency exam certificate and a falsified score report to his chain of command in October 2012.
He was caught, court-martialed and pleaded guilty to four charges under the National Defence Act in October 2014 for uttering a forged document.
According to the sentencing decision, Cheung had been seeing patients on his own as a member of the physiotherapy team, even though he didn't have the professional qualifications to practise without mentorship.
Violated 'integrity and honesty'
The military judge said Cheung "violated one of the most fundamental obligations of a commissioned officer in the Canadian Forces, that of integrity and honesty" and "chose to deceive [the military], your professional governing body, and your patients."
He was handed a $6,000 fine but his guilty plea saved him from a custodial sentence.
The Department of National Defence confirmed to CBC News that Cheung was released from the military but would not give the reason.
The CAPR issued another alert last week notifying all physiotherapy regulators across the country that Cheung "was reportedly working under a different name in Nova Scotia" and to make them aware of his "history and current status."
It has also alerted regulators in the United States to be on watch.