A corrections officer who has been on paid administrative leave for more than two years is the latest to file a lawsuit against Sheriff Jack Mahar and others for improperly accessing medical records.
Kevin Rogers, a CO at the Rensselaer County Jail from 1990 through 1996 and again from 2003 to the present, claims two nurses at the jail, at Mahar’s direction, accessed his records on at least three occasions. If the allegations are true, it violates a number of Rogers’s Constitutional rights under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, or HIPAA.
Rogers, who was the union vice president and makes in excess of $70,000 a year, has been on paid administrative leave because of allegations he used union funds for personal gain. According to sources, he has refused to plea bargain with the federal authorities who are looking into the matter. He has not been formally charged with any crime.
|The Rensselaer County Jail |
(The one in Troy, NY not Troy, Michigan)
The two former union representatives were staunch supporters of Gary Gordon, a former Troy police officer now working as an investigator for the District Attorney’s Office, in his bid for sheriff against Mahar in 2011. Gordon ran with the Democrats and Mahar is a Republican.
In his civil suit against the Sheriff’s Department, Mahar and nurses Katrina Dinan and Elaine Young Rogers claims his medical records were accessed without his permission twice in 2006 and again in 2013. The nurses allegedly used a system the jail had established with Samaritan Hospital to check medical records of inmates getting care at the hospital electronically.
In 2013, Samaritan sent a letter to scores of jail employees telling them their records were accessed in a similar fashion and at least half dozen lawsuits similar to the one filed Friday by Rogers followed.
The password to the Samaritan Hospital medical records was given to Young, who has since resigned her position after 13 years at the jail. This lawsuit, like others, claims Young did not properly secure the password and instead left it taped to the computer console or in her desk drawer.
The suit claims Mahar directed jail personnel to access the records under the guise of stepping up enforcement of sick time abuse – and even if that were the reason, it would still violate HIPPA.
“This is not the first time high ranking Rensselaer County officials have abused their power to access confidential information,” according the lawsuit filed by Rogers’s attorney Matthew Tully in federal court. “The employees of the Rensselaer County Jail, under the supervision of Sheriff Mahar, have a habit and practice of breaching the privacy of citizens and improperly accessing computer databases.”
“Unbelievably, Defendant Patricelli was not disciplined by Defendant Mahar and remains an employee at the Rensselaer County Jail,” according to the lawsuit. “It is clear that Defendant Mahar’s failure to take action against Defendant Patricelli, in the face of unquestionably illegal conduct, that Defendant Mahar and Rensselaer County have ratified the conduct of Defendant Patricelli and other employees as it relates to the unauthorized access of citizen’s private information.”
Specifically, the suit alleges Mahar violated Rogers’s right to privacy, implementing policies and procedures that directly violate Constitutional rights, the failure to train and supervise employees under state law, violating the American with Disabilities Act, and computer fraud and abuse.
The suit demands a trial by jury and an unspecified cash amount be awarded.
Mahar could not be reached for comment.
Rogers is represented by attorney Gasper Castillo in the criminal matter that has yet to yield an indictment.
More information as it becomes available.