ID THEFT RINGLEADER PLEADS GUILTY TO BUYING INFORMATION STOLEN FROM HOSPITAL PATIENTS FOR RETAIL FRAUD SCHEME
Defendant and Seven Co-Defendants Convicted of Using Stolen Personal Information to Obtain Luxury Merchandise and Gift Cards
Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr., today announced the guilty plea of FERNANDO SALAZAR, 28, for his role in an identity theft operation that compromised the personal information of thousands of hospital patients and resulted in more than $50,000 in fraud. The defendant pleaded guilty in New York State Supreme Court to the top charge in the indictment against him, Grand Larceny in the Second Degree, as well as Unlawful Possession of Personal Identification Information in the First Degree. The defendant is expected to be sentenced on July 12, 2016.
“Fernando Salazar purchased patients’ personal information from a corrupt hospital employee for as little as $3 per record,” said District Attorney Vance. “Meanwhile, the defendant’s scheme caused as much as $50,000 in fraud and involved the theft of personal information from more than 12,000 patients. Like many schemes, this operation relied on insider access to confidential information, and I encourage individuals and organizations to remain attentive to possible threats to information security and report them to law enforcement as soon as they occur—as Montefiore Medical Center did in this case—so that perpetrators may be held criminally responsible.”
As admitted in the defendant’s guilty plea, SALAZAR, acting as the ringleader of the operation, purchased more than 250 items of personal identifying information from MONIQUE WALKER, a separately convicted co-defendant, who was employed by Montefiore Medical Center as an assistant clerk in one of the hospital wings. Between 2012 and 2013, WALKER printed thousands of patients’ records and sold them to SALAZAR and several other separately convicted co-defendants, who used victims’ information to open credit cards, obtain gift cards, and purchase luxury merchandise at department stores and major retailers, including Barneys New York, Macy’s, Victoria’s Secret, Zales, Lord & Taylor, and Bergdorf Goodman.
PATRICIA CHARLES, LAWRENCE DAVENPORT-BROWN, CHARDE LAWRENCE, ASHLY GARRETT, SASHA RIVERA, and CRYSTAL WHITE have been convicted of crimes including Identity Theft in the Second Degree, Grand Larceny in the Fourth Degree, and Criminal Possession of a Forged Instrument in the Second Degree for their roles in the scheme and using stolen personal information to open fraudulent credit card accounts, buy gift cards, and make thousands of dollars’ worth of unauthorized purchases.
In total, the defendants’ conduct resulted in more than $50,000 in fraud and the compromise of personal information corresponding to as many as 12,000 patients.
Assistant District Attorneys Robert Shull and Alona Katz handled the prosecution of the case, under the supervision of former Assistant District Attorney Tracy Conn, Assistant District Attorneys Jeremy Glickman and Elizabeth Roper, Deputy Chiefs of the Cybercrime and Identity Theft Bureau, Assistant District Attorney Brenda Fischer, Chief of the Cybercrime and Identity Theft Bureau, Assistant District Attorney Kenn Kern, Chief of Staff to the Investigation Division, and Executive Assistant District Attorney David Szuchman, Chief of the Investigation Division. Cybercrime Analyst Daniel Mueller provided additional assistance with the case.
District Attorney Vance thanked Montefiore Medical Center for full assistance with the investigation, and in addition, Detectives Daniel Alessandrino and Daniel Herzog, of the NYPD Financial Crimes Task Force, for their assistance with the investigation.