November 6, 2004
One of the ever growing problems in the U.S. is identity theft. In the first case to be sentenced under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), the judge sentenced the defendant, pursuant to a plea agreement, to 16 months. According to a statement issued by the United States Attorney's Office for the Western District of Washington, the defendant, a technician at a cancer center, "admitted that he obtained a cancer patient's name, date of birth and social security number while [he] was employed at the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance, and that he disclosed that information to get four credit cards in the patient's name. [He] also admitted that he used several of those cards to rack up more than $9,000 in debt in the patient's name." According to an AP story, the defendant's sentence was "four months longer than prosecutors requested." Some, however, argue that this case should not have been prosecuted under the HIPAA statutes.