HIPAA/HITECH , Standards, Regulations & Compliance

Mistrial in Criminal HIPAA Case Against Army Doctor & Spouse

Jury Deadlocked on Whether Couple Was Entrapped to Leak Records to Undercover Agent
Mistrial in Criminal HIPAA Case Against Army Doctor & Spouse
Image: Getty

A federal judge declared a mistrial in the criminal prosecution of a married couple accused of conspiring to provide the Russian government with military medical records, after two-and-a-half days of jury deliberations couldn't break a deadlock.

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A Baltimore jury on Thursday told Judge Stephanie Gallagher of the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland that a lone juror believed the couple had been entrapped by federal agents, reported local TV station WBAL.

Federal prosecutors quickly filed notice that they intend to retry the defendants "as soon as the Court's schedule permits."

Prosecutors in September charged Anna Gabrielian, a former Johns Hopkins Medical Center anesthesiologist, and her spouse, U.S. Army Maj. Jamie Lee Henry, with conspiracy and criminal violations of HIPAA involving wrongful disclosure of individually identifiable health information. Henry is set to appear on Monday before an Army board of inquiry hearing that could result in the major's discharge.

Prosecutors alleged the conspiracy centered on a plot by Gabrielian and Henry to assist the Kremlin in its invasion of Ukraine by providing an individual they believed to be a Russian agent with insights into the medical conditions of Pentagon and military officials (see: DOJ: Army Doc, Wife Sought to Leak Health Records to Russia).

The supposed Russian spy was actually an undercover FBI agent. Both the prosecution and defense agree that the couple released health information of several U.S. military and government employees to the undercover agent.

“These two defendants want to be 'long-term weapons' for Russia,” said prosecutor Aaron Zelinsky in closing arguments, quoting language Gabrielian used in a meeting with the undercover FBI agent, reported CBS.

But while federal prosecutors alleged the couple provided the health records with the intention of personal gain or malicious harm related to their opposition to U.S. policy and their support of Russia, the defense argued that information the doctors provided to the supposed Russian agent was "useless" and turned over due to fear.

"Dr. Gabrielian and Dr. Henry clearly feared what would happen if they said 'no' to the KGB. Although the undercover agent never overtly threatened Defendants, she didn’t have to. Implying that she was working for the KGB was enough," the physicians' defense team argued.

The KGB was a Soviet intelligence agency that ceased operations in 1991; its functions in Russia passed to various successor agencies.

A motion filed by the defense attorneys contends the U.S. government approached Gabrielian last year after she sent "an innocuous email" to the Russian embassy offering humanitarian aid and medical collaboration.

Gabrielian and Henry met with the supposed Russian agent several times, during which they were "pressured" into providing medical records to the operative, their defense team contended.

Gallagher in April rejected Henry's request to be tried separately from Gabrielian (see: Army Doc Seeks Separate Trial From Spouse in Records Case).

Henry previously came to national attention as the first known active-duty Army officer to come out as a transgender woman.

During the time of the alleged 2022 conspiracy, Henry, who held a secret-level security clearance, worked as a staff internist stationed at South Carolina's Fort Bragg, the home of the Army's XVIII Airborne Corps and the Womack Army Medical Center and the headquarters of the U.S. Army Special Operations Command.

Gabrielian worked at Baltimore, Maryland-based John Hopkins Medicine.

Prosecutors allege Gabrielian wrongfully disclosed individually identifiable health information of two patients to the undercover agent and that Henry released IIHI of five individuals who were military veterans or related to military veterans.

About the Author

Marianne Kolbasuk McGee

Marianne Kolbasuk McGee

Executive Editor, HealthcareInfoSecurity, ISMG

McGee is executive editor of Information Security Media Group's HealthcareInfoSecurity.com media site. She has about 30 years of IT journalism experience, with a focus on healthcare information technology issues for more than 15 years. Before joining ISMG in 2012, she was a reporter at InformationWeek magazine and news site and played a lead role in the launch of InformationWeek's healthcare IT media site.

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