Alabaster woman indicted on hospital identity theft charges

Published 5:14 pm Tuesday, June 28, 2011


An Alabaster woman was indicted by a federal grand jury June 28 on counts of identity theft, possessing stolen mail attempting to commit bank fraud, misusing someone else’s Social Security number and aggravated identity theft.

Chelsea Catherine Stewart, 26, of Alabaster, was arrested in early June and charged with violating the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and wrongfully obtaining individually identifiable health information from Trinity Medical Center in Birmingham.

During the indictment, the grand jury also charged Stewart with possessing a stolen credit card bill in March and attempting to use a convenience check from the bill to obtain $2,200. The indictment also charged her with fraudulently obtaining someone else’s credit report online in March by using a Social Security number and a debit card.

If convicted of violating the HIPAA statute, Stewart faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. She faces a maximum prison term of 30 years and a $1 million fine for attempted bank fraud. For possession of stolen mail and misuse of a Social Security number, Stewart faces a maximum sentence of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine for each charge. If convicted of aggravated identity theft, Stewart must serve two years in prison for each count, although those terms might run concurrently with one another.

The Alabaster Police Department, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service and the U.S. Secret Service are still investigating the case, and Trinity Medical Center recently set up a toll-free number at 1-866-367-5548 to offer free credit monitoring to those affected by the case.

“This case is a prime example of the impact that can be made through the cooperative efforts of local and federal law enforcement. Thorough and efficient police work by the Alabaster Police Department, U.S. Postal Inspectors and the U.S. Secret Service led to a quick arrest of Stewart,” U.S. Attorney Joyce Vance wrote in a press release.