mistrial hipaa case doctor couple

Deadlocked Verdict: Mistrial Declared in High-Stakes HIPAA Case Against Army Doctor and Spouse

June 2, 2023 — U.S. District Judge, Stephanie Gallagher, declares mistrial after a jury deadlocks a case accusing two Maryland doctors of wrongful disclosure of health information to assist Russia in its war efforts against Ukraine.

The medical records were believed to be something that Russia’s capital, Moscow, could misuse for their own benefit. Former Johns Hopkins anesthesiologist Dr. Anna Gabrielian and her spouse, Dr. Jamie Lee Henry, who is also a U.S. Army major, apparently released private patient records to an undercover agent disguised as a Russian official.

According to the prosecutor and deputy chief of Maryland’s Office of the National Security and Cybercrime, Aaron Zelinsky, the two doctors were trying to be assets of Russia. And since one of the patients was married to an Office of Naval Intelligence employee, the defendants did not waste time to use this opportunity.

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Mistrial Declared in HIPAA Criminal Case

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) Privacy Rule states that healthcare professionals are not allowed to disclose identifiable health information without getting their patient’s consent. Any organization or provider who violates this ruling may face criminal charges and imprisonment on top of other monetary penalties.

Following the case of the two Maryland doctors, their violation may cover maximum penalties of decades in prison. While the matter is still subject to review, the defendants clearly violated the HIPAA privacy rule. Unless they meet the rule exceptions, they are still liable for the offense and subject to punishment. For instance, doctors needing to treat critically ill patients can access their historical records without authorization.

Jury deadlocked on couple’s guilt

Despite the allegations of personal gain and malicious harm, the defense argued that the doctors only did the wrongful health information disclosure out of fear. Even without threatening them, the undercover agent was introduced as part of the KGB or state security of Russia, which was enough reason to inflict control over the Maryland doctors.

While the KGB ceased operations as a Soviet intelligence agency in 1991, its functions in Russia continued to successor agencies. Accordingly, the doctors met the Russian agent multiple times, wherein they were forced to cooperate and disclose sensitive information about their patients.
The defense filed a motion regarding the harmless email Dr. Gabrielian allegedly sent to the Russian embassy for humanitarian aid and medical collaboration.

“The undercover agent coerced the doctors who only wanted to save lives during the war,” the defense lawyers said in a statement. As for Dr. Gabrielian and Dr. Henry, they left the courthouse without commenting.

mistrial declared on Maryland doctors hipaa breach case

Judge’s Decision and Federal Prosecutors’ Response

In September last year, the Department of Justice dropped an indictment stating conspiracy and criminal charges against physician Anna Gabrielian, 36, and U.S. Army Major Jamie Lee Henry, 39, following the violation of the HIPAA Privacy rule.

However, in the most recent hearing held in June 2023, the jurors did not reach a settlement after more than 13 hours of deliberations. They could not unanimously agree on whether the two doctors were guilty or innocent, which led U.S. District Judge Stephanie Gallagher to declare a mistrial.

It was later revealed that the prosecution may still opt to hold another trial to reassess the case. “The officials would review the matter and make a determination as to the next steps,” a spokesperson for the Maryland U.S. Attorney’s Office said in a statement.

Meanwhile, the prosecutors said they would decide soon on the retrial. If convicted, Doctors Anna Gabrielian and her husband, Jamie Lee Henry, will face five years of imprisonment for conspiracy and 10 years in federal prison for each count of wrongfully disclosing their patient’s information to the Russian agent.

Deadlocked Verdict: Mistrial Declared in High-Stakes HIPAA Case Against Army Doctor and Spouse

Summary of Allegations and Charges

Hours after U.S. District Judge Stephanie Gallagher declared a mistrial, the federal prosecutors will proceed with a retrial on the case of the two Maryland doctors accused of conspiring to help Russia after invading Ukraine.

Dr. Anna Gabrielian and U.S. Army Major Jamie Lee Henry still face conspiracy and felony charges with decades of imprisonment for each count. In a one-page letter written by Atty. Aaron Zelinsky and Atty. P. Michael Cunningham to U.S. District Judge Stephanie Gallagher, it says that “The government is prepared to proceed to a retrial against both defendants as soon as the Court’s schedule permits.”

The mistrial decision was made after the entrapment issue came up. A video showed an undercover FBI agent posing as a Russian government official to coerce Dr. Gabrielian outside the Johns Hopkins Hospital parking garage. She feared for her life and ended up sharing her patient’s confidential medical files.

Kent Cañas

Kent is a content strategist currently specializing in HIPAA-compliant online fax. Her expertise in this field allows her to provide valuable insights to clients seeking a secure and efficient online fax solution.

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