Feds indict couple again in theft, sale of patients’ data

Jay Weaver reports:

Last year, they were charged with running a racket to pilfer patient records from Jackson Memorial Hospital to sell to lawyers for personal-injury claims.

Now Ruben E. Rodriguez and wife Maria Victoria Suarez have been indicted again for paying an ambulance-company employee to steal information on patients transported to Miami-Dade hospitals and healthcare clinics. That theft scheme dates all the way back to 1995, according to an indictment filed last week.

In both federal cases, the Coral Gables couple are accused of brokering the stolen computer records of patients’ names, addresses, telephone numbers and medical diagnoses to several attorneys in exchange for kickback payments. The lawyers paid them hundreds of thousands of dollars for the referrals after settling injury claims, authorities say.

Read the full story here. The U.S. Attorney’s Office issued the following press release:

Jeffrey H. Sloman, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, and John V. Gillies, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Miami Field Office, announced the March 4, 2010, filing of an indictment against defendants Ruben Rodriguez, 61, and Maria Victoria Suarez, 52, both of Coral Gables, on charges that include conspiring to steal personal identification information of individuals transported by Randle Eastern Ambulance Service, Inc., d/b/a American Medical Response (“AMR”) and sell the information to various South Florida personal injury attorneys and clinics. The defendants, who previously were indicted for similar conduct in United States v. Ruben Rodriguez and Maria Victoria Suarez, Case No. 09-20623-CR-LENARD(s)(s), have not yet made their initial appearances on these new charges.

According to the indictment, defendant Rodriguez solicited the assistance of a co-conspirator, who at the time was employed by AMR, an ambulance service provider that offered emergency and non-emergency medical transport services in Miami-Dade County. Defendant Rodriguez reached an agreement with the co-conspirator that required the co-conspirator to illegally gain access to certain personal information of individuals transported by AMR and to turn over that information to Rodriguez, in exchange for payments from Rodriguez.

The indictment further alleges that defendant Rodriguez would, in turn, sell the personal identification information he received from the co-conspirator to either of the following: (1) personal injury attorneys, who would use the personal identification information to improperly solicit individuals transported by AMR with hopes of representing them in future legal proceedings; and/or (2) personal injury clinics, who would use the personal identification information to improperly solicit individuals transported by AMR to offer medical services. The payments defendant Rodriguez received from the attorneys and clinics were determined, in part, by any resulting lawsuits, settlements, payments, and/or reimbursements.

The indictment additionally alleges that in the midst of this conspiracy, defendant Rodriguez introduced the co-conspirator to defendant Suarez, his wife, who thereafter, along with defendant Rodriguez, purchased the illegally obtained information from the co-conspirator for subsequent resale to others, as described above.

The five-count indictment charges defendant Rodriguez and Suarez with one count of conspiracy to illegally access a computer and to obtain and use another’s identification information; one count of fraud in connection with computers; and 3 counts of aggravated identity theft. If convicted, Rodriguez and Suarez face a maximum of five (5) years’ imprisonment for both the conspiracy and fraud in connection with computers. They also face a mandatory consecutive term to any other potential sentence of two (2) years’ imprisonment on the aggravated identity theft offenses.

Mr. Sloman commended the investigative efforts of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney O. Benton Curtis III.

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