News and Press Releases

Man Pleads Guilty to Participating in Conspiracy to Unlawfully Obtain UMC Patient Record Information

February 1, 2011

Las Vegas, Nev. – A local man pleaded guilty this morning to participating in a conspiracy to receive and disclose University Medical Center of Southern Nevada (UMC) hospital patient records in order to solicit business and clients for personal injury attorneys, announced Daniel G. Bogden, United States Attorney for the District of Nevada.

Richard W. Charette, 55, of Las Vegas, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to illegally disclose personal health information in violation of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability act of 1996 (HIPAA). Charette pleaded guilty as originally charged in the indictment filed on April 28, 2010. Charette faces up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine, and is scheduled to be sentenced on May 4, 2011, at 9:00 a.m. by U.S. District Judge Kent J. Dawson.

"Patients should not have to be concerned that their personal information might be compromised when they visit a hospital or medical provider," said U.S. Attorney Bogden. "Federal authorities will vigorously investigate and prosecute persons who participate in such crimes."

According to a memorandum filed in support of Charette's guilty plea, between about January and November 19, 2009, Charette conspired with the manager of the trauma resuscitation department at UMC, and others, to illegally disclose patient record information for personal gain. Charette approached the manager and convinced him to obtain and provide to Charette "face sheets" from the records of patients who had been treated in the UMC trauma department. Between about July 31 and November 19, 2009, Charette received face sheets from the trauma resuscitation department manager, via facsimile transmission, on at least 55 occasions. Charette then used the information from the face sheets to solicit patients for legal and medical referrals. Charette paid the trauma resuscitation department manager for each patient who retained a personal injury attorney or chiropractor with whom Charette was affiliated, for a total of approximately $9,200.

The investigation is continuing, and is being conducted by the FBI. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Crane M. Pomerantz and Sarah Griswold.

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