A six-month prison-term and $1,200 fine has been handed down to a Georgia man who falsely claimed a former acquaintance had violated patient privacy and breached the HIPAA compliance rules.
Jeffrey Parker, 44, of Rincon, GA, claimed to be a HIPAA whistleblower in October 2019 and reported it HIPAA violations by an employee to the authorities. He claimed that there had been significant privacy breaches by a nurse at a Savannah, GA hospital, incorporating such as emailing graphic images of traumatic injuries of hospital patients internally and externally.
The court documents said that, Parker “engaged in an intricate scheme” to frame a previous acquaintance for violations of the Federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act’s Privacy Rule. To support these fake claims, Parker set up multiple email accounts in the names of real patients and used those accounts to share false claims of privacy violations. Emails were sent to the hospital where the nurse was employed, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and the Department of Justice (DOJ).
Parker also claimed that he had been threatened in relation to his actions as a whistleblower and law enforcement agencies moved to ensure his safety. When asked about the threats and the HIPAA breaches, an FBI agent found discrepancies with his account of events and upon additional questioning, Parker confirmed that he had made false accusations to frame the former acquaintance for fictional HIPAA breaches that did not occur.
U.S. Attorney Bobby L. Christine said, when Parker was charged said: “Falsely accusing others of criminal activity is illegal, and it hinders justice system personnel with the pursuit of unnecessary investigations. 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 entered a plea of guilty on a single count to a single case of making false statements and could have been handed downreceived a 5-year prison term. He was given a six -month prison term by U.S. District Court Judge Lisa Godbey Wood.
Chris Hacker, Special Agent in Charge of FBI Atlanta said,: “Many hours of investigation and resources were wasted determining that Parker’s whistleblower complaints were fake, meant to do harm to another citizen. 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 will not be able to apply for parole and will serve the full prison term with another three years of supervised release after that.