A former South Carolina Department of Health and Human Services employee was sentenced Thursday for stealing personal records, but will avoid jail time in return for his cooperation with investigators.
Christopher Lykes, Jr., 39, of Swansea, was sentenced to 30 months, but that was suspended for three years probation. He was also ordered to serve three hundred hours of community service over the period of his probation.
Prosecutors say Lykes was a project manager at DHHS when he compiled more than 228,000 Medicaid patients’ personal information on a spreadsheet and sent it to his private email. Officials still have not said what Lykes was planning to do with the information, other than stating it was “insurance-related.”
Assistant Attorney General Michael Burchstead of the Attorney General Office’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit prosecuted the case. Judge Allison Lee presided over the court hearings.
Lykes pleaded guilty last year in Richland County General Sessions Court to four counts of willful examination of private records by a public official, public member, or public employee, and one count of criminal conspiracy. All offenses are felonies.
He was indicted on these charges back in February 2013. Investigators said the incidents occurred in early 2012. The indictments stated that Lykes, while a public employee of SCDHHS, willfully examined, or aided and abetted in the willful examination of, confidential records for an improper or unlawful purpose.
Prosecutors said Lykes conspired with Toshia Latimer-Addison in taking the information, although public statements on her case have been vague.
Latimer-Addison pleaded guilty last month to one count of violating of the Family Privacy Protection Act. The law prohibits obtaining or using personal information from a state agency for commercial solicitation. She was sentenced to 6 months in prison, suspended on 9 months probation. An additional condition of probation was that she not participate as a Medicaid provider for 5 years.
The case briefly became a political story, after it was revealed that both Lykes and Latimer-Addison were precinct captains in the Lexington County Democratic Party. However, law enforcement officials have never said if there was a connection. Lykes was also a former employee at a insurance firm founded by State Sen. Darrell Jackson, D-Columbia, and had been appointed to his DHHS position at Jackson’s recommendation.
Prosecutors are not giving any details of what “commercial solicitation” Latimer-Addison was accused of doing, other than to say it was insurance-related. A spokesman for the Attorney General’s Office said the investigation has been closed.
Bill Dubensky and Matt Long contributed to this report