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Former Nurse Convicted of Theft of Patient Information and Tax Fraud

A former nurse from Midway, FL has been convicted of wire fraud, theft of government funds, possession of unauthorized access devices and aggravated identity theft by a court in Tallahassee.

41-year old Tangela Lawson-Brown was employed as a nurse in a Tallahassee nursing home between October 2011 and December 2012. During her time at the nursing home, Lawson-Brown stole the personal information of 26 patients, although she was discovered to have a notebook containing the personal information of 150 individuals.

According to a press release issued by the United States Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Florida, Lawson-Brown’s husband was arrested in January 2013 and items were seized from Lawson-Brown’s vehicle by the Tallahassee Police Department, including the notebook.

The police investigation revealed that in 2011, Lawson-Brown used the stolen credentials to file fraudulent tax returns in the names of 105 individuals, including 24 patients of the nursing home. Lawson-Brown filed claims totaling more than $1 million. The IRS detected many of the claims as fraudulent, although $141,790 in tax refunds was issued by the IRS.

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The refunds were deposited in multiple bank accounts controlled by Lawson-Brown and the funds were used to pay personal expenses, cover car repairs, and to pay off her mortgage.

Lawson-Brown will be sentenced on January 4, 2018. She faces a maximum jail term of 20 years for each count of wire fraud, 10 years for each count of theft of government funds and possession of unauthorized access devices, and an additional 2 years will be added to her sentence for aggravated identity theft.

U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Florida, Christopher P. Canova, said, “This case illustrates the vulnerability of elderly and disabled persons.  Relatives and other caregivers should be alert to unauthorized tax returns, bank accounts, credit cards, and financial transactions, and should immediately report identity theft crimes to law enforcement agencies.”

Author: Steve Alder is the editor-in-chief of HIPAA Journal. Steve is responsible for editorial policy regarding the topics covered on HIPAA Journal. He is a specialist on healthcare industry legal and regulatory affairs, and has several years of experience writing about HIPAA and other related legal topics. Steve has developed a deep understanding of regulatory issues surrounding the use of information technology in the healthcare industry and has written hundreds of articles on HIPAA-related topics.