A Georgia man who falsely claimed a former acquaintance had violated patient privacy and breached the HIPAA Rules has been fined $1,200 and sentenced to 6 months in jail.
In October 2019, Jeffrey Parker, 44, of Rincon, GA, claimed to be a HIPAA whistleblower and alerted the authorities about serious privacy violations by a nurse at a Savannah, GA hospital, including emailing graphic pictures of traumatic injuries of hospital patients internally and externally.
According to court documents, Parker “engaged in an intricate scheme” to frame a former acquaintance for violations of the Federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act’s Privacy Rule. To back up the fake claims, Parker created multiple email accounts in the names of real patients and used those accounts to send false accusations of privacy violations. Emails were sent to the hospital where the nurse worked, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and the Department of Justice (DOJ).
Parker also alleged that he had been threatened for his actions as a whistleblower and law enforcement took steps to ensure his safety. When questioned about the threats and the HIPAA violations, an FBI agent identified irregularities in his story and upon further questioning, Parker admitted making fake accusations to frame the former acquaintance for fictional HIPAA violations.
“Falsely accusing others of criminal activity is illegal, and it hinders justice system personnel with the pursuit of unnecessary investigations,” said U.S. Attorney Bobby L. Christine, when Parker was charged. “This fake complaint caused a diversion of resources by federal investigators, as well as an unnecessary distraction for an important health care institution in our community.”
Parker pleaded guilty to one case of making false statements and potentially faced a 5-year jail term. He was sentenced to serve 6 months in jail by U.S. District Court Judge Lisa Godbey Wood.
“Many hours of investigation and resources were wasted determining that Parker’s whistleblower complaints were fake, meant to do harm to another citizen,” said Chris Hacker, Special Agent in Charge of FBI Atlanta. “Before he could do more damage, his elaborate scheme was uncovered by a perceptive agent and now he will serve time for his deliberate transgression.”
Parker is not eligible for parole and will serve the full term, followed by 3 years of supervised release.
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