The Department of Justice made an announcement about nine residents in San Diego who were charged in two independent indictments connected with the theft of patients’ protected records and the submission of fake claims for pandemic unemployment insurance.
Based on the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act of 2020, new unemployment benefits were provided to persons affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, who wouldn’t, under regular situations, be qualified for payments.
In one of the cases, Matthew Lombardo, a Scripps Health employee before, was charged with felony HIPAA violations for acquiring and sharing the protected health information (PHI) of patients to his supposed co-conspirators. Lombardo was additionally charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud, together with three alleged co-conspirators – Konrad Piekos, Dobrila Milosavljevic, and Ryan Genetti. Genetti, Piekos, and Milosavljevic were additionally charged with aggravated identity theft and are claimed to have utilized the stolen data to submit bogus claims for pandemic unemployment insurance.
The San Diego Sheriff’s Department had started a traffic stop on Konrad Piekos for driving without a license plate. When cops went to the vehicle, they noticed an assault rifle in plain sight inside his vehicle. Piekos acknowledged that he possessed an unregistered assault rifle, and the cops that searched his vehicle found a number of loaded firearms and ammunition. After getting a warrant to search Piekos’ house, the police saw a few other firearms and ammo, quantities of heroin and fentanyl, and cell phones. After getting warrants to search the cell phones, detectives discovered texts among Genetti, Piekos, and Lombardo talking about the dubious distribution of narcotics, guns, and a way to get unemployment benefits utilizing other people’s personal identifying information (PII).
Piekos and Genetti had plotted to fraudulently acquire PUA benefits in July 2020, with Lombardo becoming a member of the scheme last August 2020. Lombardo is alleged to have employed his position as a patient financial service agent to get access to patients’ PII, which he then distributed to Piekos, Milosavljevic, and Genetti beginning on August 15, 2020, as per the indictment. Scripps Health stopped Lombardo on April 14, 2021.
In another case, Genetti and three defendants Garrett Carl Tuggle, Lindsay Renee Henning, and Salvatore Compilati – were accused of conspiracy to commit wire fraud. Henning and Tuggle were likewise accused of aggravated identity theft, and Henning, Tuggle, and Juan Landon, a fourth defendant, were accused of having methamphetamine, heroin, and cocaine with the intention to distribute. The defendants applied for more than 108 separate claims for PUB benefits, with a total of $1,615,000.
Lombardo faces a maximum imprisonment term of 10 years for the HIPAA violation in addition to a fine. His conspiracy to commit wire fraud case carries a max jail term of 20 years plus penalty, and Lombardo is to serve a minimum jail term of 2 years in association with the aggravated identity theft charges, after serving the other sentences.
Pandemic unemployment insurance programs are a crucial component of our safety net created to help industrious citizens who are experiencing an unparalleled economic downturn, stated Acting U.S. Attorney Randy Grossman. Our office and our law enforcement partners will look into and prosecute people who try to steal from these services created to support deserving individuals.