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6/1/2007
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Manager Pleads Guilty To Stealing Info On 200,000 Patients

A DVD stolen from the San Jose Medical Group contained patients' names, addresses, phone numbers, dates of birth, Social Security numbers, diagnoses, and medical procedures.

A former branch manager at a California medical group pled guilty to federal charges that he stole sensitive personal and medical information on 200,000 patients.

Joseph Nathaniel Harris, 44, of Riverside, Calif., pled guilty on Wednesday to stealing computer hardware and a DVD in March 2005 from the San Jose Medical Group. The DVD contained patients' names, addresses, phone numbers, dates of birth, Social Security numbers, diagnoses, and medical procedures.

Harris, who was charged with one count of theft in connection with health care, faces up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine or twice the gain or loss resulting from the theft, along with three years supervised release. He's slated to be sentenced on Sept. 5.

According to the criminal complaint and the indictment, Harris was the branch manager at the San Jose Medical Group, a medical services organization that includes hundreds of affiliated physicians in the South Bay area in California. Harris left the medial group in September 2004. On March 28, 2005, employees discovered a flat-screen monitor and two Dell computers missing from the San Jose Medical Group administrative office. The FBI reported in the criminal complaint that the missing DVD had been in one of the computers.

The complaint also noted that during Harris' time at the medical group, there were several reports of theft of money and medications. Management was suspicious of his possible involvement in the thefts, and he had been asked to resign. Harris complied and left the company.

While he was at the company, the FBI said he had bragged about having a side business of selling used computer equipment. He had created a Web site for this business, JNH Consulting, while on the job at the San Jose Medical Group.

Harris admitted in U.S. District Court that he stole the computer equipment and the DVD. He kept the DVD but sold the equipment. FBI investigators found Harris' sale postings on Craigslist, an online community of classified ads and forums, for equipment that matched the description of the stolen hardware.

FBI agents conducting a search during the investigation found the DVD in Harris' car.

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