Old Scripps Health Employee Violates HIPAA in COVID-19 Unemployment Benefits Fraud Case

The Department of Justice has reported nine locals in San Diego who were charged in two different indictments associated with the stealing of patients’ protected data and the filing of fake claims for pandemic unemployment benefits.

As per the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act of 2020, new unemployment insurance was given to men and women impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, who will not, under typical conditions, be eligible for payments.

In one of the incidents, Matthew Lombardo, a Scripps Health worker in the past, has been charged with felony HIPAA violations for acquiring and exposing the protected health information (PHI) of patients to his co-conspirators. Lombardo was additionally charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud, together with three co-conspirators – Dobrila Milosavljevic, Konrad Piekos, and Ryan Genetti. Genetti, Milosavljevic and Piekos were furthermore charged with aggravated identity theft and are affirmed to have utilized the stolen data to file bogus claims for pandemic unemployment benefits.

The San Diego Sheriff’s’ Department caught Konrad Piekos on the road for driving with no license plate. When cops neared the vehicle, they spotted an assault rifle within his vehicle. Piekos confessed to possessing an assault rifle with no registration, and the succeeding vehicle search showed a number of loaded firearms and ammunition. A warrant was secured to lookup Piekos’ real estate and the police discovered a few other firearms and ammo, some fentanyl and heroin, and cellphones. After getting warrants to search the mobile phones, detectives found SMS amongst Genetti, Lombardo and Piekos speaking about the questionable syndication of drugs, guns, and a plan to get unemployment benefits employing other individuals’ personal identifying information (PII).

Genetti And Piekos had conspired jointly to fraudulently acquire PUA benefits in July 2020, with Lombardo connecting to the scheme last August 2020. Lombardo is accused to have employed his job as a patient financial service consultant to gain access to patients’ PII, which he then gave away to Milosavljevic Piekos, and Genetti commencing on August 15, 2020, based on the indictment. Scripps Health ended Lombardo on April 14, 2021.

In a different incident, Genetti and three more defendants – Garrett Carl Tuggle, Salvatore Compilati and Lindsay Renee Henning – had been charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud. Tuggle And Henning were likewise charged with aggravated identity theft, and Tuggle And Henning, and Juan Landon, a 4th defendant, were charged with having heroin, methamphetamine, and cocaine with a motive to sell. The defendants had filed over 108 different claims for PUB assistance, amounting to $1,615,000.

Lombardo is facing a maximum prison term of 10 years for the HIPAA violation in addition to a fine and penalty review. The conspiracy to commit wire fraud allegations have a jail term of up to 20 years plus a fine and penalty evaluation, and there is a compulsory minimum 2-year jail term in connection with the aggravated identity theft charges, and the aggravated identity theft prison term successive to other sentences.

Pandemic unemployment insurance packages are a vital aspect of our safety net made to assist dedicated citizens who are battling an unmatched economic recession, mentioned Acting U.S. Attorney Randy Grossman. Law enforcement partners will continue to check and prosecute persons who make an effort to steal from these insurance intended to help deserving people.

Elizabeth Hernandez

Elizabeth Hernandez is the editor of HIPAA News section of HIPAA Coach and an experienced journalist in the healthcare sector. She specializes in healthcare and HIPAA compliance, making her a go-to source for information on healthcare regulations. Her work focuses on the importance of patient privacy and secure information handling. Elizabeth also has a postgraduate degree in journalism. Follow on Twitter: You can follow Elizabeth on twitter at https://twitter.com/ElizabethHzone