Former Fla. Hospital Employee Sentenced for Tax Fraud Using Stolen Patient Info

DEERFIELD BEACH, Fla. — A judge has sentenced a former employee at Boca Raton Regional Hospital to 18 months in prison, in connection with her previous conviction for unauthorized Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) disclosures.

As a scheduler at the hospital, Shalamar Major, 32, had access to personal identification information of Boca Raton Regional Hospital patients, including their names, dates of birth, Social Security numbers, and other sensitive personal information. In exchange for the promise of future payments, Major unlawfully provided Tanisha Wright, 27, sensitive personal identifying information, including names, dates of birth, and social security numbers, of numerous Boca Raton Regional Hospital patients. Upon receipt, Wright used this information to electronically file fraudulent federal income tax returns without the knowledge or authorization of the victims and claimed refunds to which she was not entitled from the IRS.

Wright then instructed the IRS to direct-deposit the refunds onto pre-paid reloadable debit cards that were already in her possession and had been previously stolen out of the U.S. mail. Once the debit cards had been funded by the Department of the Treasury, Wright would convert the funds on the debit cards to cash by making withdrawals at local automated teller machines or would make personal purchases at various local businesses. She would then split the proceeds with Major. In total, at least 57 fraudulent tax returns were filed with the IRS, requesting $306,720 in federal tax refunds.

During the July 29 hearing, U.S. District Judge Robin Rosenbaum sentenced defendant Major to 18 months in prison to be followed by three years of supervised release and ordered that she pay $15,795 in restitution to the IRS.

Rosenbaum sentenced Wright, who was convicted to three counts of identity theft, three counts of theft of public money, one count of access device fraud, one count of aggravated identity theft, one count of theft of mail, and one count of conspiracy to commit false claims, to 40 months in prison followed by three years of supervised release. She has also been ordered to pay $174,130 in restitution to the IRS.

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