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Feb 21

FIRST HIPAA TRIAL ENDS IN CONVICTION

From the Vinson Elkins law firm (www.velaw.com):

In the first HIPAA case to go to trial, a federal jury in Florida found Fernando Ferrer, Jr. guilty of eight criminal counts, including identity theft, computer fraud, Medicare fraud, and a HIPAA violation for the wrongful disclosure of individually identifiable health information. Notably, this first ever HIPAA conviction is against an individual that is not a “covered entity.” In this case, the U.S. Attorney alleged that Ferrer purchased stolen protected health information (PHI) from his cousin, Isis Machado, who had access to the information through her employment at a Florida clinic. From May 2005 to June 2006, Ferrer wrongfully obtained the names, Social Security numbers and Medicare numbers of approximately 1,100 individuals. Ferrer then used the stolen PHI to submit more than $7 million in false Medicare claims with approximately $2.5 million paid to providers and suppliers. Machado pled guilty for her involvement in the scheme on January 12 and testified against Ferrer during his trial. Ferrer’s sentencing is scheduled for April 27, 2007. Ferrer faces a maximum of 30 years in prison and up to $1,750,000 in fines, including 10 years and a $250,000 fine for the HIPAA violation. Reporter, Amanda Borichevsky, Austin, 512.542.8844 or aborichevsky@velaw.com.

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