Texas Man Charged with Damaging Computers, Deleting Patient Records at Western PA Healthcare Facility

PITTSBURGH – A Texas resident has been indicted by a federal grand jury in Pittsburgh on charges of Intentional Damage to a Protected Computer and Wire Fraud, United States Attorney Soo C. Song announced today.

The two-count indictment, returned on Feb. 28, 2017, named Brandon A. Coughlin, 29, of Houston, Texas, as the sole defendant.

According to the indictment, Coughlin intentionally hacked and damaged 13 servers operated by a local healthcare facility and engaged in a scheme to defraud that healthcare facility by using its purchase card to order merchandise from Staples. On January 16, 2013, Coughlin was hired by the healthcare facility as an in-house computer systems administrator. On February 4, 2013, he resigned from that position at the request of management. Using the administrative passwords he knew from his employment, on September 18, 2013, Coughlin hacked the computer network of the healthcare facility, disabled all administrative accounts needed to control any and all of the computer servers of the healthcare facility, and deleted users’ network shares, business data, and patient health information data, including patient medical records, causing a loss of more than $5,000.00. Coughlin also is accused of committing wire fraud when he attempted to fraudulently purchase online iPad Air tablets on the Staples account of the healthcare facility.

The law provides for a maximum total sentence of 30 years in prison, a fine of $500,000 or both. Under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, the actual sentence imposed would be based upon the seriousness of the offense and the prior criminal history, if any, of the defendant.

Coughlin waived his appearance at today’s arraignment hearing before Chief Magistrate Judge Maureen Kelly. The case has been assigned to Chief U.S. District Judge Joy Flowers Conti.

Assistant United States Attorney Paul E. Hull is prosecuting this case on behalf of the government.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation conducted the investigation leading to the indictment in this case.

An indictment is an accusation. A defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

Source: U.S. Attorney’s Office, Western District of Pennsylvania

Perhaps coincidentally, the January 15, 2013 edition of The Observer-Reporter includes this police report concerning a man with the same name and of the same age:

Theft charge: Brandon A. Coughlin, 25, of 920 E. Maiden St., Washington, was charged Tuesday with theft by deception by South Strabane police after he returned merchandise he purchased while working at Home Depot, 155 Murtland Ave., in November. He allegedly changed the receipt and returned it earlier this month to the Bethel Park store. He received a $1,400 overpayment, police said. The charge will be sent by summons from the office of District Judge Jay Weller.

Those charges were the day before a Brandon A. Coughlin was reportedly hired by the healthcare facility. Could the facility have subsequently learned of the charges and asked him to resign a few weeks later? There may be more to this story than we have as yet learned.

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