Joseph Thomas faces a 15 count indictment, but sources say he may have as many as 90 victims, and one of his favorite targets? Patient files at Tallahassee Memorial Hospital.
Twenty-four-year-old Joseph Thomas, until his arrest a few weeks ago, was taking classes at FAMU. Now, he's awaiting trial, accused of stealing the identities of 14 people. The indictment issued in Tallahassee federal court, claims he stole credit card applications out of mailboxes and lifted names, addresses and social security numbers right out of patient files at Tallahassee Memorial.
"The person who allegedly took the files is a former employee and as you know many businesses deal with thefts from former employees because they happen to know the system. We think that's what happened here," says Warren Jones, TMH spokesperson.
Thomas worked as an office assistant in the hospital pharmacy from January to September 2000. A hospital spokesman says as many as two years later he returned and slipped past the central registration desk. The indictment says he then used patient information to apply for credit cards and rack up bills in the thousands.
Since the alleged thefts, TMH says it has beefed up security and of course implanted the federal HIPA guidelines to try to keep files out of the wrong hands.
"We know who is going into the files and monitoring the files they access physically, we have more lock boxes out there for files when they're not in use and education is key, making sure our staff knows policies for handling medical files."
Investigators describe Thomas as one of the most prolific and creative identity thieves ever in Tallahassee. His trial begins November 17. We want to point out we tried to interview Tallahassee police investigators, postal inspectors and federal prosecutors who worked on this case, but all declined, saying they did not want to jeopardize the upcoming trial in any way. As for the victims themselves, all those we talked to declined our request for interviews.