United States Attorney Anne M. Tompkins
Western District of North Carolina
ASHEVILLE, N.C. – U.S. District Judge Martin Reidinger sentenced a former hospital employee to serve 18 months in federal prison for stealing and selling computer network equipment, announced Anne M. Tompkins, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of North Carolina. Judge Reidinger also ordered Joel Kimble, 39, of Columbia, S.C., to serve three years under court supervision and to pay restitution in the amount of $264.000.
U.S. Attorney Tompkins is joined in making today’s announcement by Russell F. Nelson, Special Agent in Charge of the United States Secret Service, Charlotte Field Division.
In December 2010, a federal grand jury sitting in Asheville indicted Kimble on ten felony counts arising from his theft and embezzlement of computer equipment from the Margaret R. Pardee Memorial Hospital of Henderson County, N.C. (“Pardee”). Kimble was also charged with wire fraud and interstate transportation of stolen property in connection with his submission of false claims to Cisco Systems Inc. of San Jose, California (“Cisco”) for returned merchandise. Kimble was the computer network administrator for Pardee.
On March 3, 2011, Kimble entered a plea of guilty to one count of theft and embezzlement and one count of wire fraud. According to plea documents and court hearings, Kimble admitted to defrauding both Pardee and Cisco by selling computer parts he ordered on behalf of Pardee to “grey market” vendors. The term grey market refers to the purchase and sale of products through distribution channels which, while legal, are not authorized by the original or licensing manufacturer, in this case Cisco. However, the grey market may also be used as a channel to distribute stolen, damaged or counterfeit goods as it was in this case. Kimble also admitted to stealing at least $120,000 worth of computer equipment from Pardee.
According to court documents and court proceedings, Kimble also abused his position as Pardee’s network administrator by fraudulently ordering replacement parts from Cisco, which he also sold on the grey market. Because Cisco knows that many of its customers, including Pardee, depend on its equipment to perform vital services without interruption, it will send replacement equipment without verifying that its original equipment is defective and before receiving the defective part back from the customer. However, the replacement computer network parts that Kimble claimed on behalf of Pardee were not actually needed. Court
documents and statements made in court indicate that Kimble attempted to cover up his fraud by returning junk parts to Cisco that he obtained from third parties off the Internet. Kimble’s fraud cost Cisco at least $196,000. Kimble received at least $168,000 from his sale of stolen Pardee and Cisco equipment.
In issuing the sentence in the case, Judge Reidinger found that Kimble abused his position of trust with Pardee, as well as Cisco’s advanced returned merchandise policy. Judge Reidinger noted that Kimble received a substantial sum from his thefts and said that the sentence imposed on Kimble should send a message that there will be major consequences beyond losing a job for anyone else who might be tempted to steal as Kimble did.
Kimble was released on a bond and will be allowed to self-report upon designation of a facility by the Federal Bureau of Prisons. Federal sentences are served without the possibility of parole.
The investigation was led by the U.S. States Secret Service. The prosecution for the government was handled by Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Savage of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Charlotte.