Thieves allegedly stole patient information from Yale-New Haven Hospital, used the data to fraudulently obtain credit cards and bought thousands of dollars in merchandise statewide, Farmington police and a former hospital patient say.

Robert Williams, 55, of New Haven was charged Tuesday with buying nearly $2,000 worth of merchandise from the J.C. Penney store at Westfarms Mall in Farmington in November 2000 with credit cards he obtained by using stolen information from the hospital, according to an arrest warrant affidavit obtained by The Herald of New Britain.

Williams faces more than 40 criminal charges. He was arraigned in Hartford Superior Court and is to return there on Feb. 22.

Police said Williams told a sergeant that he obtained information from an “inside source” at Yale-New Haven Hospital.

Meanwhile, a former Yale-New Haven patient said more than $8,000 was charged to false accounts opened in his name at five stores across the state, including J.C. Penney, Home Depot and Lowe’s Home Improvement.

The patient, Jeff Griffin, whose birth name is Homer Griffin, said he began receiving credit card bills for accounts he never opened within days of his release from the hospital in December 2000. Police said Williams bought the goods at J.C. Penney in an account in Griffin’s name.

“The day I got home, I got a bill,” Griffin, 60, of Southbury told the newspaper. “Fortunately I caught it quickly but he wound up charging close to $8,000 with my name. I had to contact all the credit companies and get it all straightened out.”

Griffin said someone at the hospital later called him to say that the same thing had happened to another patient.

Yale-New Haven officials said an “intensive investigation” cleared hospital personnel of any wrongdoing.

“We are aware of Mr. Griffin’s report,” Bill Gombeski, Yale-New Haven’s director of marketing, said. “There was no conclusive evidence that any hospital employee misused any personal information about Mr. Griffin.”

The affidavit said the credit card scheme involved a Yale-New Haven employee identified only as “Tracy” who stole patient information including names, birth dates and social security numbers.

The information was used to make fake driver’s licenses and identification cards in the names of Yale-New Haven patients, the affidavit said. The identifications would be given to people who opened fraudulent credit card accounts at stores across the state, police said.

The affidavit also said, “Tracy had been fired from Yale-New Haven Hospital for violation of policy and her true identity has not yet been determined.”

Waterford police said they were told about two to three elderly patients from Yale-New Haven also were victims of credit card fraud. Police also said they were investigating Williams as a possible suspect in similar credit card crimes at the Crystal Mall.

–Associated Press