Rutland Man Pleads Guilty to Conspiring to Access Protected Computer Network of Medical Treatment Provider
For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Massachusetts
Conduct resulted in electronic medical records system being inaccessible, impairing or potentially impairing medical examinations, diagnoses and treatment and care of patients
BOSTON – A Rutland man pleaded guilty today in federal court in Worcester to conspiring to access a protected computer of his former employer – a non-profit substance use and mental health treatment provider that operates recovery centers throughout Massachusetts.
Nathan Howe, 42, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, three counts of wire fraud, one count of conspiracy to access a protected computer to obtain information and cause damage and one count of intentionally causing damage to a protected computer and impairing medical treatment. U.S. District Court Judge Margaret R. Guzman scheduled sentencing for Jan. 17, 2024.
Howe was indicted by a federal grand jury in April 2023. Co-conspirator Patrick Edmonds-Morin has since pleaded guilty and is scheduled to be sentenced Dec. 13, 2023.
Howe and Edmonds-Morin were employed by the non-profit until April 2021 and October 2020, respectively. Between September and December of 2021, Howe conspired with Edmonds-Morin to access records of the non-profit’s employees, listen to and view conversations between the employees, and create and deploy a computer program designed to impede the non-profit’s use of the network. In November 2021, Howe accessed the computer network and transmitted a command that shut down the network for the non-profit’s Westborough campus where individuals were receiving in-patient treatment. By shutting down the network, Howe made the non-profit’s electronic medical records system inaccessible at its sites across Massachusetts, impairing or potentially impairing the medical examination, diagnosis, treatment and care of patients.
Additionally, between July 2018 and November 2020, Howe and Edmonds-Morin conspired to commit wire fraud by obtaining cell phones from a cell phone provider which were intended for the non-profit’s staff and, instead, selling the cell phones to third parties for personal profit, typically in the amounts of hundreds of dollars per phone.
“In the Information Age, all one needs to commit crime is a keyboard and malicious intent. As this prosecution demonstrates, our office is committed to protecting computer networks from intrusions and fraud,” said Acting United States Attorney Joshua S. Levy.
“When Nathan Howe betrayed the trust placed in him by his former employer by illegally accessing their computer network, he also potentially jeopardized the treatment and care of their patients,” said Jodi Cohen, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Boston Division. “This case illustrates the ongoing commitment of FBI Boston’s Cyber Task Force to work with our partners to ensure cybercriminals are brought to justice to face significant consequences for their conduct.”
The charge of conspiracy to commit wire fraud provides for a sentence of up to 20 years in prison, up to five years of supervised release and a fine of up to $250,000. The charge of conspiracy to access a protected computer without authorization to obtain information and cause damage, provides for a sentence of up to five years in prison, up to three years of supervised release and a fine of up to $250,000. The charge of intentionally causing damage without authorization to a protected computer and causing the potential impairment of medical treatment provides for a sentence of up to 10 years in prison, up to three years of supervised release and a fine of up to $250,000. Sentences are imposed by a federal district court judge based upon the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and statutes which govern the determination of a sentence in a criminal case.
Acting U.S. Attorney Levy and FBI SAC Cohen made the announcement today. Assistant U.S. Attorney Brendan O’Shea of the Worcester Branch Office is prosecuting the case.
Updated October 20, 2023