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Former Nueces County chief deputy medical examiner arrested

Sandra Lyden treated.png
Posted at 8:59 AM, Mar 08, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-09 10:34:05-05

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — UPDATE (11:48 a.m.): According to the arrest report issued by the Nueces County Sheriff's Office, Dr. Sandra Lyden was arrested Monday, not Tuesday.


Former Nueces County Chief Deputy Medical Examiner Dr. Sandra Lyden has been arrested.

KRIS 6 News confirmed Lyden was arrested on a local warrant Tuesday. She has been charged with tampering with a government record and is currently being held in connection with that charge.

As KRIS 6 News previously has reported, Lyden was accused of practicing without a license in the state of Texas.

According to the arrest warrant affidavit, an investigation by the Texas Rangers and Nueces County District Attorney's Office revealed that Lyden lied on her application for an Emergency Visiting Practitioner Temporary Permit to practice medicine in Texas. The warrant states Lyden claimed to have never been arrested, charged with a violation of law involving drugs, placed on probation, or had her prescription certificate revoked.

However, the Texas Rangers' investigation revealed Lyden had been convicted of two criminal offenses over the last five years. According to the affidavit, "the offense also involved abuse of prescription medication."

The affidavit also states she was interviewed by the Drug Enforcement Administration while previously working in Hawaii, where she admitted to abusing prescription medication. She was forced to surrender her prescription-certificate permit, according to the warrant.

During a March 3 search of her Corpus Christi home, investigators found nine prescription medications, eight of which were prescribed to a person autopsied at the ME's office. Investigators seized those drugs in a separate warrant.

An investigation into Lyden began after she ruled a 27-year-old woman died as the result of a fractured neck on Jan. 3. That woman was the wife of an officer with the Corpus Christi Police Department. A second autopsy, later done by an independent medical examiner, found the woman died of natural causes.

A KRIS 6 News investigation in January then discovered that Lyden had been practicing at the Nueces County Medical Examiner’s Office without a valid Texas medical license or emergency certification.

The Texas Rangers’ and Nueces County District Attorney’s Office’s investigation also found contradictions regarding Lyden’s medical permit dating as far back as August 2021, when an ME’s office employee wrote to Lyden and copied Nueces County Medical Examiner Dr. Adel Shaker, stating Shaker told the employee Lyden had been granted a temporary license to practice medicine in Texas.

But in October 2021, another email is sent from Shaker to Lyden noting an "emergency form" is ready for submission to the Texas Medical Board, indicating she had not received the temporary emergency license referenced in the August email.

A discrepancy also was found in a recommendation letter submitted to the county as part of Lyden’s employment application, according to the warrant. The letter, allegedly written by a physician in Florida, misspells the physician’s name. When contacted by the investigators, the doctor denied writing the letter.

On Jan. 14, the district attorney's office served a warrant and seized documents from the ME's office. By the end of the day, Lyden's employment with the county had been terminated after only working for the county for a little more than a month.

In order to legally practice, she would have needed to obtain an emergency visiting practitioner temporary permit, sponsored by Shaker or another fully licensed physician.

No such permit has been issued in Lyden's name, or in Shaker's, on her behalf.

During Lyden's employment with the county, KRIS 6 News confirmed she conducted 30 autopsies. She was hired by Shaker on Dec. 6, 2021.

Her bond has been set at $100,000.

MORE: Nueces County commissioners respond to firing of Lyden
MORE: KRIS 6 News confirms Dr. Adel Shaker seeing live patients

This is a breaking news story, KRIS 6 News will update this story as we have more information.