Anchorage Woman Sentenced to Two Years’ Imprisonment for HIPAA Violation
ANCHORAGE, AK—U.S. Attorney Karen L. Loeffler announced that on Friday, May 29, United States District Court Judge, Ralph R. Beistline, sentenced an Anchorage woman, Stacy Laulu, age 33, to two years’ imprisonment on her convictions for two felony violations of the Health Information Portability and Accountability Act (“HIPAA”). The case represented the first felony HIPAA prosecution in Alaska, and one of the few in the country.
Laulu was convicted after trial along with her co-defendant , Stuart Seugasala, who was recently sentenced to life imprisonment on convictions for Drug Conspiracy, Kidnapping, Use of Firearms in Furtherance of those crimes, and HIPAA violations.
According to prosecutors, at the time of the crimes, Laulu worked at Providence Hospital as a financial counselor. In that capacity, she had access to computerized medical records. The evidence at trial established that, in mid-March 2013, Seugasala contacted Laulu on her cellular telephone and asked her to check the medical records of two people he had victimized: one victim who had been sexually assaulted and another who had been shot by Seugasala. Laulu determined the identity of the victims (one of whom was still hospitalized), and provided Seugasala with confidential information about the victims, including what they had told hospital staff about how they sustained their injuries, the severity of the injuries, and what was reflected in hospital records about their cooperation with law enforcement. Laulu communicated this information through text messages to Seugasala.
Seugasala was stopped by the Anchorage Police Department (APD) in May 2013. At the request of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), APD seized Seugasala’s cellular telephone. DEA agents later obtained a search warrant for this telephone, which revealed the texts between Seugasala and Laulu, which Seugasala had attempted to delete from his phone. Laulu was then confronted by DEA agents and admitted to sending the information to Seugasala. Providence Hospital was then notified and Laulu’s employment was terminated.
Evidence at trial established that Laulu’s husband was a close friend and former co-defendant with Seugasala in a federal drug case. At the time of her crimes, Laulu’s husband was awaiting trial on murder charges. Witnesses at Seugasala’s and Laulu’s trial testified that, at times, Seugasala would arrange to drop off drug proceeds for Laulu and her husband’s benefit.
In imposing a two-year sentence on Laulu, Judge Beistline stated that Laulu “displayed no respect for the law or the private and confidential information of the victims,” adding that “in this day and age, every human being expects private records to remain private.” In disclosing the private information to Seugasala, Judge Beistline noted that Laulu assisted Seugasala and his gang’s “lawless pursuits.”
Ms. Loeffler commends the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, the United States Marshals Service, the Anchorage Police Department, the Alaska State Troopers, and the Valdez Police Department for the investigation that led to the convictions in this case. Providence Hospital also provided valuable assistance in the form of records and testimony at trial.