Deputies say that for more than a decade a man has taken on the identity of a woman. They say he convincingly used her information to get medical treatment at multiple hospitals. Now she's stuck with the bills.
Perla Serrano may not look it, but "she" is actually a 51-year-old man. Authorities allege Serrano stole the identity of an Orange County woman and for the past 13 years has pretended to be her.
Serrano, who is homeless, was arrested after a deputy allegedly found him sleeping in a grassy area in San Clemente, violating a city ordinance. He identified himself as Perla Serrano.
"The deputy noticed that this person had a hospital wristband on with yet another name," said Orange County Sheriff's Spokesman Jim Amormino. "The deputy contacted San Clemente Hospital and was told by San Clemente personnel that the person was not a female but was actually a man."
Serrano was so convincing as a woman, authorities allege, that he managed to use the victim's personal information to get a health card under the victim's name.
"The suspect has been charging medical services at several hospitals in south Orange County to the tune of well over $100,000," said Amormino.
Serrano faces numerous charges, including false personation, burglary and grand theft. He has pleaded guilty in the past to being drunk in public. Authorities allege Serrano has also failed to make some past court appearances, leaving the real victim to face arrest warrants.
"As you can imagine, it has been a nightmare for the victim," said Amormino. "It's been going on for approximately 13 years, but I'm sure she's very relieved."
Serrano was expected to be arraigned Friday. He was held on $20,000 bail.