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A Georgia man has been charged over an elaborate scheme to frame an acquaintance for violations of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) that never occurred.
Jeffrey Parker, 43, of Richmond Hill, GA, claimed he was a whistleblower reporting HIPAA violations by a nurse. He reported the violations to the hospital where the person worked, and complaints also sent to the Department of Justice (DoJ) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). Parker was also interviewed by Fox28Media in October 2018 and told reporters that the nurse had been violating HIPAA privacy laws for an extensive period.
The nurse worked at an unnamed hospital in Savannah, GA, which was part of a health system that also operated healthcare facilities in Nashville, TN and other areas. She was alleged to have emailed graphic photographs of patients with traumatic injuries such as gunshot wounds to other individuals outside the hospital. In the Fox28Media interview Parker explained that the sharing of images between employees and other individuals had been going on for a long time.
Parker requested that his identity remain hidden out of fear for his personal safety. He also claimed he had received threats as a result of reporting the HIPAA violations.
In additions to claiming the nurse had violated HIPAA, Parker set up email accounts using the names of real hospital employees. Those email accounts were used to send further reports of HIPAA violations to the hospital as well as the DoJ and the FBI to make it appear that the nurse’s co-workers were also reporting HIPAA violations.
The FBI responded quickly to the threats over his personal safety and interviewed Parker about the alleged crimes. An FBI agent found inconsistencies in Parker’s story and, upon further questioning, Parker admitted making false statements and creating the email addresses to support his story. According to the Fox28Media story, the nurse was a former lover of Parker.
“Falsely accusing others of criminal activity is illegal, and it hinders justice system personnel with the pursuit of unnecessary investigations,” said U.S. Attorney Bobby L. Christine. “This fake complaint caused a diversion of resources by federal investigators, as well as an unnecessary distraction for an important health care institution in our community.”
Parker was charged with one count of false statements by the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Georgia. Parker now faces up to five years imprisonment for the crime.
“Hopefully the quick uncovering of this alleged scheme by our investigators will send a message that these types of actions will be exposed, and justice will be served,” said Chris Hacker, Special Agent in Charge of FBI Atlanta.