NEW YORK (WABC) -- Eight people, including a Montefiore Medical Center employee, were charged with stealing and using patients' identities and information to make thousands of dollars in purchases. Most purchases were made at department stores in Manhattan.
The suspects are charged with varying counts of grand larceny in the second and third degrees, identity theft in the first degree, and criminal possession of a forged instrument in the second degree, among other charges.
"In case after case, we've seen how theft by a single company insider, who is often working with identity thieves on the outside, can rapidly victimize a business and thousands of its customers," said District Attorney Vance. "Motivated by greed, profit, and a complete disregard for their victims, identity thieves often feed stolen information to larger criminal operations, which then go on to defraud additional businesses and victims. In this case, a hospital employee privy to confidential patient records allegedly sold financial information for as little $3 per record."
According to the indictment and documents filed in court, Monique Walker, 32, was employed by Montefiore Medical Center as an assistant clerk in one of the hospital wings, where her position gave her access to patients' names, dates of birth, Social Security numbers, and other personal information. Between 2012 and 2013, Walker allegedly printed thousands of patients' records on a near daily basis and supplied them to a co-defendant for as little as $3 per record.
Fernando Salazar, 28, is accused of acting as the ringleader of the operation and allegedly purchased at least 250 items of personal identifying information from Walker. The stolen information was then provided to other defendants, who allegedly used it to make multiple trips to department stores and retailers, including Barneys New York ("Barneys"), Macy's, Victoria's Secret, Zales, Bergdorf Goodman, and Lord & Taylor, to purchase goods worth thousands of dollars through the use of store credit and gift cards.
For example, Patricia Charles, 43, is charged with using the stolen information of at least four individuals on five separate occasions at Barneys, where she made multiple unauthorized purchases of more than $2,000 each. Upon arrest, Charles was found to be in possession of three allegedly forged driver's licenses.
Similarly, Lawrence Davenport-Brown, 23, and Charde Lawrence, 28, allegedly used stolen information to open a credit card account at Barneys, buying gift cards that allowed them to make additional purchases of clothing and handbags valued at hundreds of dollars.
Ashly Garrett, 25, Sasha Rivera, 31, and Crystal White, 32, are also alleged to have used stolen personal identifying information to open Barney's credit cards and buy gift cards, enabling them to make thousands of dollars' worth of unauthorized purchases at Barneys.
In total, the alleged actions are estimated to have caused more than $50,000 in fraud. The investigation by Montefiore Medical Center and the Manhattan District Attorney's Office revealed that the personal information of as many as 12,000 patients may have been compromised by the alleged conduct.