NATIONAL NEWS

Case dismissed against Maryland couple accused of patient privacy violations to help Russia

May 24, 2024, 12:41 PM

BALTIMORE (AP) — A federal judge has tossed a case against a Maryland couple accused of divulging patients’ medical records as part of a conspiracy to aid Russia after its invasion of Ukraine.

U.S. District Court Judge Stephanie Gallagher on Wednesday said the government “bungled” speedy trial procedures ahead of an attempted retrial and dismissed the case with prejudice, meaning the case can’t be refiled, The Baltimore Sun reported.

“The Government displayed a serious pattern of neglect of its speedy trial obligations during the six months between November, 2023 and May, 2024,” Gallagher wrote. “In this case dismissal without prejudice would be a toothless sanction to the Government:”

Former Johns Hopkins anesthesiologist Dr. Anna Gabrielian and her spouse, Dr. Jamie Lee Henry, a physician and U.S. Army major, were charged in 2022 with violating the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act as part of a conspiracy to assist Russia by disclosing several patients’ health information that Moscow could exploit. Authorities said the patients included some from the U.S. Army base in North Carolina formerly known as Fort Bragg.

When Gabrielian and Henry were first charged and released on home detention, Maryland Board of Physicians records showed their primary practices were at Johns Hopkins Hospital.

The indictment accused the couple of seeking to pass federally protected medical information to an undercover FBI agent who Gabrielian believed worked at the Russian Embassy. The couple met with the agent in a Gaithersburg hotel and provided health records for seven people, according to the indictment.

During last May’s trial, defense attorneys argued that the government lacked proof that the couple provided records for personal gain or with malicious intent and that they were coerced and subjected to entrapment. Gabrielian testified that she was afraid of retribution against relatives in America, Russia and Ukraine if she didn’t comply.

One juror believed the government tricked the couple and they shouldn’t be found guilty, prompting Gallagher to declare a mistrial.

After prosecutors tried to schedule a retrial, the defendants attempted to gain security clearances to obtain evidence, according to court records. Months later, the government responded that “moving further in the security clearance process was not required,” and offered the “unclassified testimony of an expert.” Gallagher didn’t see this as a good faith attempt, writing in her opinion that part of the months-long delay was aimed at gaining a “tactical advantage.”

Earlier this month, the government informed the court that “there was no classified information to which the defendant was entitled” and after the defendants filed a motion for dismissal under the Speedy Trial Act, the government “quickly agreed that the security clearance process could commence.” But Gallagher said it was too late.

“The threshold question, ‘was the Speedy Trial Act violated?’ has a clear and unequivocal answer: ‘Yes,’” Gallagher wrote in her opinion.

Henry’s attorney, David I. Schoen, wrote in an email to The Associated Press that they were grateful to Gallagher for her “very thoughtful and well reasoned Order applying the law as it must be applied.” The couple dedicated their lives and careers to humanitarian work around the world and they wanted to get to Ukraine “to help save lives. All lives,” he said.

“This is a case that never should have been brought,” Schoen said. “It was a classic case of entrapment and government overreach.”

Gabrielian’s attorney and the U.S. Attorney’s Office both declined to comment.

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Case dismissed against Maryland couple accused of patient privacy violations to help Russia