News and Press Releases

Alabaster Woman Indicted for Stealing Hospital Patient Information

June 28, 2011

BIRMINGHAM – A federal grand jury today indicted CHELSEA CATHERINE STEWART for stealing identifying information on more than 4,000 patients from a Birmingham hospital, and for possessing stolen mail, attempting to commit bank fraud, misusing someone else’s Social Security number, and aggravated identity theft, announced U.S. Attorney Joyce White Vance.

STEWART, 26, of Alabaster, was arrested earlier this month for violating the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and wrongfully obtaining individually identifiable health information from Trinity Medical Center. Today’s indictment is the next formal step in the process of that case. The indictment also adds other charges in the case.

The indictment charges that Stewart possessed a stolen credit-card bill in March and attempted to use a convenience check from that credit-card bill to obtain $2,200. The indictment also charges her with fraudulently getting someone’s credit report online in March by using that person’s Social Security number and a debit card number of a second person.

If convicted of violating the HIPAA statute, Stewart faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. She faces a maximum prison term of 30 years and a $1 million fine for attempted bank fraud. For possession of stolen mail and misuse of a Social Security number, Stewart faces a maximum sentence of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine for each charge. If convicted of aggravated identity theft, Stewart must serve two years in prison for each count, although those terms might run concurrently with one another.

“This case is a prime example of the impact that can be made through the cooperative efforts of local and federal law enforcement. Thorough and efficient police work by the Alabaster Police Department, U.S. Postal Inspectors, and the U.S. Secret Service led to a quick arrest of Stewart,” Vance said.

Trinity Medical Center has undertaken to notify all patients whose information was taken. It announced a toll-free number for affected patients to call for free credit monitoring. That number is 1-866-367-5548.

The Alabaster Police Department, U.S. Postal Inspection Service, and the U.S. Secret Service are investigating the case. Assistant U.S. Attorney Melissa Atwood is prosecuting it.

Members of the public are reminded that an indictment contains only charges. A defendant is presumed innocent of the charges and it will be the government’s burden to prove a defendant’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt at trial.




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