LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - A former hospital worker implicated in the theft of medical records for “Charlie’s Angels” star Farrah Fawcett, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s wife and some 60 other celebrities and selling them to the media has been indicted on federal charges.
Lawanda Jackson, a former low-level administrative specialist at UCLA Medical Center in Los Angeles, was charged in an indictment unsealed on Tuesday with illegally obtaining medical information for sale.
The indictment does not name the celebrities who Jackson, 49, is accused of snooping on, but the Los Angeles Times has linked her to a scandal over the burgled records of Schwarzenegger’s wife, Maria Shriver, and Fawcett.
Jackson told the paper in an interview for its April 9 edition that she pried into the records because she was “just being nosy” and hadn’t “leaked” the private information to anyone else.
But the indictment, which was handed down by a U.S. District Court grand jury that same day, accuses her of accepting $4,600 from an unnamed “national media outlet” in exchange for the information.
The indictment alleges that the media outlet disguised the payments by writing checks to her husband.
If convicted Jackson, who is due in court on June 9 for an arraignment, faces a potential sentence of 10 years in federal prison.
The case against Jackson, who left the hospital in May of 2007 appears unrelated to a more recent incident where UCLA Medical Center employees were suspended for prying into the records of pop star Britney Spears.
The hospital suspended several workers for that breach, saying all staff must sign confidentiality agreements and the hospital has “stringent policies to protect patient” privacy.
The Los Angeles Times reported at the time that UCLA has taken measures to fire at least 13 employees, discipline as many as six more and could take action against six doctors for accessing computers to search through Spears’ medical records.
Under federal law, only doctors and medical staff directly involved with a patient may work with records.
Editing by Bob Tourtellotte