PITTSBURGH, Pa. - In the first HIPAA prosecution in the Western District of Pennsylvania, a resident of Monroeville, Pa., has been sentenced in federal court to one year of probation on his conviction of knowingly disclosing patient health information to another person in violation of law, United States Attorney David J. Hickton announced today.
The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) law passed by Congress provides for national standards for electronic health care transactions, and protects patients from the unauthorized disclosure of personal medical information without their consent.
Senior United States District Judge Maurice B. Cohill, Jr. imposed the sentence on Paul C. Pepala, 35.
According to information presented to the court, Pepala disclosed the names and social security numbers of patients at Shadyside Hospital, many of which were then used by other persons to file unauthorized form 1040 electronic tax returns in 2008, in which the filers sought tax refunds.
Prior to imposing sentence, Judge Cohill considered the remorsefulness of the defendant and that the maximum sentence was only one year in prison for the HIPAA violation.
Assistant United States Attorney Gregory C. Melucci prosecuted this case on behalf of the government.
United States Attorney Hickton commended the United States Postal Inspection Service, Internal Revenue Service and Secret Service for the investigation leading to the successful prosecution of Pepala.