On Thursday, a 46-year-old McKinney man was sentenced to four years in federal prison for allegedly stealing protected health information to bankroll a spending spree, buying items like jet skis, SUVs and off-road vehicles, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.
Demetrius Cervantes pleaded guilty in December to conspiracy to obtain information from a protected computer.
“Today’s sentence sends the message that the theft of protected health information, the fabrication of physicians’ orders, and the sale of prescriptions will not be tolerated in the Eastern District of Texas,” Acting U.S. Attorney Nicholas J. Ganjei said in a statement. “This office will continue to pursue those who place profits over patients and manipulate the healthcare system for their personal gain.”
Along with two other defendants, Cervantes was named in a 2019 federal court indictment charging them with conspiracy to unlawfully possess and use a means of identification and conspiracy to obtain information from a protected computer. The three were alleged to have stolen protected health information, as well as patients’ identifying information, by breaching an electronic health record system.
They raked in more than $1.4 million by selling the stolen information, which had been “repackaged” into fraudulent doctor orders and hawked to durable medical equipment (DME) contractors and providers.
Defendant Amanda Lowry will be sentenced on July 22. She's already pleaded guilty to conspiracy to obtain information from a protected computer. Another defendant, Lydia Henslee, was charged in November with nine counts of unlawfully transferring, possessing and using a means of identification and one count of conspiracy to unlawfully transfer, possess and use a means of identification.
In a separate superseding indictment, Henslee was charged with four defendants — including a 67-year-old Allen man — with one count of conspiracy to commit illegal remunerations. They were alleged to have obtained patient information and to have used it to create fake doctor orders. They then sold those orders to other DME providers and to one another.
Over the course of around eight months, the scheme allegedly generated the defendants nearly $3 million. If convicted, each could spend up to five years behind bars.
On March 25, Henslee pleaded guilty to “conspiring to possess and use means of identification in connection with various offenses.” A date for sentencing hasn’t been scheduled.