PR Department Of Health Employee And Another Individual Indicted For Theft Of Government Records And Aggravated Identity Theft
SAN JUAN, P.R. – Yesterday, a Federal grand jury returned an eight-count indictment charging two individuals for conspiracy, theft of government records, unlawful transfer of means of identification, aggravated identity theft, and wrongful disclosure of individually identifiable health information, announced Rosa Emilia Rodríguez-Vélez, United States Attorney for the District of Puerto Rico. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Criminal Investigation Division and Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General are in charge of the investigation. The Puerto Rico Department of Health Medicaid Office, Fraud Unit provided significant assistance during the investigation.
Defendants Mercedes C. Bodden-Fontana and Raymond I. Ramos-Reyes stole personal identifying information of Mi Salud recipients from the MEDITI database to sell those records to unjustly enrich themselves.
As an employee of the Puerto Rico Department of Health Medicaid Office, Mercedes C. Bodden-Fontana would access to the MEDITI database on her work computer and take photographs of the screen depicting in list form Mi Salud participants’ names, social security numbers and dates of birth. She would subsequently print the pictures of the screen shots. She would then provide the information to defendant Raymond I. Ramos-Reyes. Ramos-Reyes would sell each individual’s information to a third party for approximately $3 per name, date of birth and corresponding social security number. Reyes-Ramos would then provide Bodden-Fontana the proceeds of the sale; in return, she would provide Reyes-Ramos a commission for the sale.
“This indictment underscores our determination to hold accountable those who take advantage of vulnerable populations, commit fraud, and place the safety of others at risk for illicit financial gain,” stated Rosa Emilia Rodríguez-Vélez, United States Attorney for the District of Puerto Rico. “These defendants stole names, social security numbers and dates of birth of more than 5,000 Mi Salud recipients, to later sell these records for profit; we have stopped their illegal activities with today’s arrests. The investigation continues.”
Kelly R. Jackson, Special Agent in Charge, IRS Criminal Investigation, Miami Field Office, stated, “It is unfortunate that an employee of the Puerto Rico Department of Health Medicaid Office would steal the identities of innocent Mi Salud participants for a profit. Today’s indictment should serve as a strong warning to those who are considering similar conduct of using their position at an employer to commit identity theft. IRS Criminal Investigation and its law enforcement partners are serious about investigating these crimes and holding accountable those who steal and then sell other peoples’ identities to commit tax fraud and other offenses.”
“The Medicaid program provides health care benefits to low-income individuals and families, and the illegal and unauthorized use of Medicaid participants’ personal identifiers is unacceptable. HHS-OIG and its law enforcement partners will continue to aggressively pursue to the fullest extent of the law those who seek to unlawfully enrich themselves by victimizing participants of the Medicaid program,” said Scott Lampert, Special Agent in Charge of HHS-OIG New York Regional Office.
If convicted, the defendants face a maximum possible sentence of five years on the conspiracy charge, 10 years for theft of government records and two consecutive years in prison for the aggravated identity theft charge.
The case is being investigated by IRS-CID, HHS-OIG with the collaboration of the Puerto Rico Department of Health Medicaid Office, and prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Julia Meconiates. An indictment contains only charges and is not evidence of guilt. Defendants are presumed to be innocent unless and until proven guilty. The investigation is ongoing.