TAMPA - An employee at the James A. Haley Veterans Hospital has been indicted on federal charges, accused of stealing identifying information on patients there.
David F. Lewis sold the information to people who used the data to file fake tax returns, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.
"These crimes are particularly egregious, and the VA Office of Inspector General is dedicated to aggressively investigating individuals who misuse patient information, especially when used for personal and financial gain," said Quentin G. Aucoin, a special agent with the Office of the Inspector General in the Department of Veterans Affairs.
A Haley spokeswoman said Lewis had worked at the hospital as a medical assistant, then later was transferred to the laundry room. She declined to say whether that work transfer was related to the investigation. Lewis still is a Haley employee, the spokeswoman said, though he is awaiting disciplinary action.
According to court documents, Lewis told agents he traded information about patients for crack cocaine.
Lewis was indicted on six counts of wrongful disclosure of health information, three counts of access device fraud, and three counts of aggravated identity theft. Each count of access device fraud and wrongful disclosure carries a maximum count of ten years; each count of identity theft carries a two-year maximum penalty.
Lewis stole the information from patients during the summer of 2012, according to the indictment.
The federal government also is asking that Lewis be forced to repay $105,000, the profit he is accused of making by selling the information.
The investigation was conducted by the Department of Veterans Affairs, the Internal Revenue Service, the Tampa Police Department and the Florida Highway Patrol.