Doctor Who Stole Personal Information of Nearly 100,000 NRAD Associates Patients Arrested
Nassau County, NY – December 4, 2014 – Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice and the Nassau County Police Department announced the arrest of a Great Neck doctor responsible for stealing the protected personal and health information of tens of thousands of patients of NRAD Medical Associates, which has multiple locations in Nassau and Queens.
James Kessler, 38, was arrested today by the NCPD Crimes Against Property Squad and issued a Desk Appearance Ticket charging him with the following crimes:
- Unauthorized Use of a Computer (an A misdemeanor)
- Unlawful Duplication of Computer Related Material in the 2nd Degree (a B misdemeanor)
- Petit Larceny (an A misdemeanor)
Kessler is due to appear in First District Court in Hempstead on Jan. 6, 2015 to be arraigned. If convicted of the top charge, he faces a maximum sentence of one year in jail.
“Physicians are regularly entrusted with the health and well-being of their patients, so the abuse of trust in this case is particularly outrageous,” DA Rice said. “New York State’s privacy and larceny statutes should be reformed so they can apply to more kinds of personally identifying information; in the meantime, my office will continue to work with partners like the NCPD to make the protection of personal data a priority and hold lawbreakers accountable for their actions.”
“Identity theft and theft of personal information is one of the greatest economic threats our citizens face,” Acting Police Commissioner Thomas Krumpter said. “The NCPD takes these crimes very seriously and works collaboratively with the DA’s office to ensure suspects are arrested and prosecuted.”
DA Rice said that between about Jan. 17 and April 24, Kessler, a radiologist employed at NRAD, improperly accessed the NRAD computer system and duplicated and possessed the protected personal and health information for 96,998 patients.
Upon discovering the breach in April, NRAD notified the U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services as required by law and in June, sent notification letters to all of the patients affected stating that their protected information had been improperly accessed by one of NRAD’s physicians.
The case was referred to DA Rice’s office and the NCPD CAP Squad by patients who received NRAD’s letters. A joint investigation by DA Rice’s office and the CAP Squad revealed that in April, Kessler connected an external hard drive to his assigned NRAD computer and copied onto it patient information from the NRAD network.
A search warrant uncovered Kessler’s hard drive containing approximately 97,000 NRAD patient records, as well as NRAD patient billing system dates, NRAD corporate credit card information, corporate marketing materials, and NRAD IT information.
Despite stealing personal identifying information of approximately 97,000 patients, current New York State personal identification information statutes (Penal Law § 190.81-83) do not cover the information found to be in Kessler’s possession. The patient records consisted of personally identifying and medical information, but not financial information. Though there is no indication that Kessler used any of the information stolen to open accounts, make purchases, or obtain property in the names of NRAD patients, the victims of this identity theft were given the opportunity by NRAD to protect their credit.
Assistant District Attorney Diane Peress, chief of DA Rice’s Economic Crimes Bureau, and ADA Leemor Peled, are prosecuting the case. Kessler is represented by Elizabeth Kase, Esq.; John Kase, Esq.; and Michael Soshnick, Esq. NRAD is represented by the law firm of Ruskin Moscou Faltischek.
The charges are merely accusations and the defendant is presumed innocent until and unless found guilty.
This case points out the weakness in NYS’s statute, as he could only be charged with misdemeanors. And while we now know the date range for the breach, we still have no information on what his motivation was in copying the information.