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A Las Vegas Lab technician has been indicted on charges of unlawfully obtaining patient healthcare data and using the information to apply for credit cards. Sherice Joan Williams, 41, of North Las Vegas has plead not guilty to the charges. The charges were recently announced by U.S Attorney, Daniel G. Bogden.
Williams was charged with one count of unlawfully obtaining the Personally Identifiable Information (PII) of a patient and one count of aggravated identity theft. If Williams is found guilty, she will potentially have to spend up to 12 years in jail. The unlawful accessing and theft of protected health data carries a maximum prison sentence of 10 years. Aggravated identity theft carries a mandatory prison term of 2 years, which must be served consecutively to any other sentence issued. Williams could also potentially be fined up to $250,000 in addition to serving a jail sentence.
The offences were alleged to have been committed between December 1, 2014 and January 27, 2015 while Williams was employed as a laboratory technician. She is alleged to have abused her access rights to patient healthcare information in order to defraud a patient. The data was allegedly used by Williams to apply for credit cards in the patient’s name. Williams had been employed at a pediatric cardiology practice in Las Vegas, although the company where she worked was not named.
According to a report by the Office for Inadequate Security, Williams was involved in a Medicare Fraud case two years previously. She was convicted of fraudulently submitting false Medicare claims, having claimed Medicare payments for behavioral health services that were not provided to a patient. The offences took place in between February 2012 and May 2012 and Williams received a sentence of 12-48 months in jail.
Following her sentencing in November 2013, Williams served time but obtained employment at the pediatric cardiology practice following her release. It is probable that if convicted, Williams will be required to serve a lengthy jail term for the offenses.
When announcing the sentence, U.S Attorney Bogden said “Persons who work in the health care industry have special access to personal identifying and medical information, and have a responsibility and duty to protect and not use that information for fraudulent purposes” He confirmed that when instances of healthcare data theft and fraud are discovered, individuals will be found and brought to justice.