A federal judge recently sentenced a woman to just over five years in prison for stealing the identities of more than 800 people while she worked at Troy Regional Medical Center as a contract employee.
According to a statement from the U.S. Attorney’s Office, U.S. District Judge Myron Thompson sentenced Angeline Austin, 41, of Montgomery, to a 65-month prison term. Thompson sentenced Austin for the following charges: conspiracy to defraud the government, fraud in connection to identification documents, fraud in connection to computers and aggravated identity theft.
The statement revealed the following details about the identity theft and tax fraud scheme:
One of the victims of the identity theft testified during the sentencing hearing about how, as a result of Austin stealing his identity, his credit was severely damaged, which impacted his security clearance for his job with a defense contracting company. It led to a suspension of his security clearance, and the eventual loss of his $100,000-a-year job. The victim now works at a fast food restaurant making minimum wage.
As a member of the Air National Guard, the victim’s military duties were scaled back because of the suspended security clearance.
As an employee for Southern Records Management, Austin worked at the Troy Regional Medical Center records office.
While working at the Troy hospital, Austin stole more than 800 names, Social Security numbers, dates of birth, and other personal information from current and former patients of the hospital. She then sold that information to another person for between $6,500 and $8,000.
The stolen identities were then used to file fraudulent tax returns.
The IRS deposited the tax refunds from those fraudulent tax returns on pre-paid debit cards, and sent them to people working with Austin. Those people then cashed out the debit cards at various ATM machines.
The chief executive officer of Troy Regional Medical Center also testified at the sentencing hearing about how Austin had received training on federal and state laws about protecting privacy and personal information of the patients.
The chief executive officer also explained the hospital had been operating at a loss for years and that the hospital was concerned it may be fined more than $1.5 million for federal and state health care privacy violations resulting from the identity thefts.
According to Clayton Slay, the agent in charge for U.S. Secret Service in Montgomery, the U.S. Secret Service along with the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigative division will continue the proactive investigation of people associated with identity theft and tax fraud-related crimes.
“Identity theft is an ongoing problem in the United States and the Montgomery, Alabama area, unfortunately, is in the top ten of cities where the stolen identities are being used to file fraudulent tax returns,” Slay said in the statement. “Austin’s sentencing is the most recent in this case which involved numerous defendants who stole identities from, not only Troy Hospital, but local Montgomery high schools and other hospitals in Montgomery, and the Atlanta areas through collusive employees, security guards, and U.S. Postal delivery personnel and resulted in approximately $1.6 million in loss to legitimate tax payers.”