Occupational Therapist Sentenced to Federal Prison for Illegally Accessing Private Health Data and Stealing Opioids
Burglarized Homes and Pretended to Be Public Health Worker
A licensed occupational therapist who improperly accessed the private health and residence information of at least 1,900 patients, and then entered or burglarized thirteen homes across North Central Iowa in repeated attempts to steal prescription opioids from vulnerable and elderly persons, was sentenced September 9, 2019, to more than one year in federal prison.
Samantha Jo Rogers, age 33, from Mason City, Iowa, originally from Lapeer, Michigan, received the prison term after a March 11, 2019, guilty plea to one count of acquiring and attempting to acquire a controlled substance by misrepresentation, fraud, deception, and subterfuge, one count of wrongfully obtaining individually identifiable health information under false pretenses and with intent to use for personal gain, and one count of false statements relating to health care matters.
In a plea agreement and at sentencing, it was established that Rogers was an Iowa-licensed occupational therapist who worked for a North Iowa hospital and various therapy companies. From at least July 2017 through June 2018, Rogers illegally accessed the private health and residence information of no less than 1,900 patients at the hospital. Rogers also similarly accessed such information from one of the therapy companies no less than 1,572 times. Rogers then used this information to locate and travel to some of the residences and attempted to obtain the patients’ prescription pain medication on the pretense that she was a public health worker. On other occasions, Rogers used a crow bar to break down the patients’ doors and commit burglaries to obtain the narcotics. In early 2018, for example, Rogers burglarized the same Forest City home twice in attempts to steal an elderly man’s prescription pain killers.
Another one of Rogers’s victims was an elderly woman who had recently been discharged to her residence from a Waverly nursing home after receiving skilled nursing care. In January 2018, Rogers travelled to the woman’s home and falsely stated that the woman’s doctor did not want her taking her pain medications anymore. Rogers then took the medications from the woman. As a result of Rogers’s false statements, the woman’s family had to take the woman to the emergency room due to the excruciating pain she began experiencing. The woman eventually had to return to the Waverly nursing home for more skilled care as a result of Rogers’s actions. Then, after the woman was discharged a second time from the nursing home, Rogers returned to the woman’s home and knocked on her doors and windows trying to get into the home, until one of the woman’s family members arrived to help the elderly woman.
Rogers was sentenced in Cedar Rapids by United States District Court Judge C.J. Williams. Judge Williams called Rogers’ crimes “egregious” and emphasized that the victims of her burglaries would never fully regain the sense of safety they had previously felt in their homes. Judge Williams also found it was “particularly egregious” when, less than a month after law enforcement officers had executed a search warrant at Rogers’ Mason City home, Rogers took a crow bar to another home as a part of her scheme.
Rogers was sentenced to 14 months’ imprisonment. She was ordered to make $524.59 in restitution to one of the victims of her burglaries and an additional $20.92 to Medicare. Rogers must also serve a three-year term of supervised release after the prison term, and she must forfeit her State of Iowa occupational therapy license to the United States. There is no parole in the federal system. After violating her pretrial release on numerous occasions, Rogers is being held in the United States Marshal’s custody until she can be transported to a federal prison.
The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Tim Vavricek and investigated by the Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General, Office of Investigations, the Hancock County Sheriff’s Office, and the Mason City Police Department. The Worth County Sheriff’s Office, the Winnebago County Sheriff’s Office, the Hampton Police Department, the Clear Lake Police Department, and the Iowa State Patrol also assisted in Rogers’ prosecution.
Court file information at https://ecf.iand.uscourts.gov/cgi-bin/login.pl.
The case file number is 18-CR-3051.
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