News and Press Releases

Defendant Entered Virginia Mason Clinic after Hours and Stole Info from Patient Records

May 4, 2007

CHRISTOPHER MARK WILLIAMS, 26, of Seattle, Washington was sentenced today in U.S. District Court in Seattle to four years in prison and five years of supervised release for Conspiracy to Commit Bank Fraud and Mail Fraud and Aggravated Identity Theft. WILLIAMS admits in his plea agreement that through his identity theft scheme he is responsible for over $200,000 in losses. At sentencing Chief U.S. District Judge Robert S. Lasnik said this was one of the worst identity theft cases he had seen in his years on the bench, because the victims had their identities stolen from a medical setting where they expected privacy.

According to a November 2006, plea agreement, WILLIAMS admits he gained unauthorized access to Virginia Mason Medical Center from a Virginia Mason employee. Then WILLIAMS copied personal identifying information from patient files that were sitting out awaiting the next day’s appointments. WILLIAMS not only used the information for his own ID theft scheme, he also provided the information to others in exchange for a cut of the proceeds from their illegal use of the information. Using the personal information, WILLIAMS would transfer funds from victim’s bank accounts into the accounts of some of his co-conspirators. Additionally, WILLIAMS would sometimes pose as the account holder and report a change of address to the bank, asking that a new debit card be sent to a new address. WILLIAMS would then use the debit card to raid the victim’s account. The government estimates that WILLIAMS was personally involved in victimizing more than 25 account holders.

In her sentencing memo, Assistant United States Attorney Susan Loitz quoted from a number of victim impact statements regarding the non-monetary damage from identity theft:

“ I’ m 80 years old, have a chronic health condition . . . This identity theft has caused me much stress.”

“I am constantly wondering when I will be attacked again. I have no way of knowing who else Mr. Williams has distributed my personal information to . . . It would have been better to have been mugged at gunpoint, since at least then I would have my peace of mind knowing that it was a one-time event.”

Many victims spent a great deal of time reconstructing their records:

“We cannot put a price on all that time. We took either sick leave time or vacation time from our jobs to either make the calls or write letters to get our life back on track. We spent hours with our credit card companies, our bankers, the investigator for BOA, the credit bureaus, our mortgage company, you name it, we dealt with it.”

WILLIAMS indicated he stole the identities and used them to get money to buy expensive goods and to feed a gambling addiction. As part of his supervised release he will be prohibited from going to any gambling establishments.

The case was investigated by the Social Security Administration Office of Inspector General (SSA-OIG), the United States Postal Inspection Service (USPIS), the FBI and the King County Sheriff’s Office (KCSO). The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Susan Loitz as part of the United States Attorney’s Office Working Group on Identity Theft.

For additional information please contact Emily Langlie, Public Affairs Officer for the United States Attorney’s Office, at (206) 553-4110.

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