UTAH COUNTY, Utah (ABC4) — A woman is facing 34 felony charges relating to fraudulent activity at Exitus, a non-profit anti-human trafficking corporation, according to the Utah Attorney General’s Office.
Candace Elexzandria Lierd, also known as Candace Rivera, 37, was arrested on Friday, Sept. 15 for engaging in a pattern of unlawful activity, including communications fraud, theft, theft by deception, theft of services, identify fraud, forgery, and unlawful conduct.
An investigation by the UAGO, which started in June, uncovered evidence that Lierd repeatedly made false representations to donors who gave money to support the fight against human trafficking.
Additionally, the investigation reportedly found that Lierd used at least some of the money for personal expenses including homes, apartments, cars, and trips. Lierd reportedly made claims to be a a physician, physician’s assistant, and nurse for persoal financial gain, but the Department of Professional Licensing showed she was never licensed or registered in Utah.
Investigators observed four separate applications to become a registered nurse in Utah in Lierd’s name, however all four were denied, according to court documents.
Court documents state Lierd is facing charges for a pattern of unlawful acts, one of which included false statements that she held a position with the United Nations and was featured on BBC News. She also falsely asserted that she was a successful business owner who founded several multi-million dollar companies, according to court documents.
In January 2021, Lierd falsely stated that she worked as a registered nurse at the University of Utah or the Veterans Affairs hospital in Salt Lake City. Employment records from the University of Utah hospital confirmed that Lierd was employed as a “Psychiatric Technician” and that her termination was an “involuntary dismissal,” according to court documents.
Additionally in January 2021, Lierd reportedly solicited donations with the Navajo Nation, saying she would work with missing and murdered indigenous women efforts, but failed to do so, according to court documents.
In September 2021, Lierd told an individual that she worked with the FBI so she could rent a property, but that she “could not reveal the details of her work because everything she did was a secret,” according to court documents. Lierd successfully “squatted” at this property for about six months and caused about $10,000 in damage to the property upon her eviction, according to court documents.
In April 2023, Lierd reportedly solicited the assistance of a Utah registered nurse to assist in coordinating the medical transport of an orphan in Ukraine to an adoptive family in the U.S. Lierd falsely told the nurse that she was a nurse practitioner, and gave the nurse medical directives for the care of the child, according to court documents. Lierd reportedly provided the nurse with controlled substances in the medical kit, including Ketamine and Haldol.
Lierd is being held in the Utah County Jail without bond as the investigation continues.
This is a developing story. ABC4 will update this post with more information as it becomes available.