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Rival allegedly interfered with doctors' answering service

Rival allegedly interfered with doctors' answering service
Rival allegedly interfered with doctors' answering service,0,4939557.story?coll=ny-region-apnewyork 

Associated Press Writer
July 19, 2005

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. -- The founder of a company that runs answering
services for doctors tried to destroy a competitor by hacking into the
firm's computer so that patients heard either a busy signal or sexual
moaning when they tried to call their physicians, the Westchester
district attorney said Tuesday.

Gerald Martin, 37, of Pawling, also made crank calls to his rival's
employees, dispatched a moving truck to its headquarters and sent its
customers forged papers indicating it was being audited by the state,
said District Attorney Jeanine Pirro.

She said the case was "a fascinating example of when competition
crosses the line into criminal behavior." Martin interfered with "the
sacrosanct ability of a patient to call a doctor," Pirro said.

Stuart Hayman, president of the Westchester County Medical Society,
said the alleged crime "could have prevented thousands of patients
from reaching their physicians in emergency situations and ... could
have led to further illness, injury and even death." He said each
company serves more than 1,000 physicians around the country.

Pirro said one patient in California had to be rushed to an emergency
room after failing to reach a doctor because of the alleged

She said Martin was a founder and vice president of Emergency Response
Answering Service Inc. of Tarrytown. He had once worked for the
company now known as Statcomm Medical Communications Inc. of White
Plains but formed his new firm after an "acrimonious breakup."

The district attorney said the complaint specifies that for three days
in November, Martin "interfered with the ability of Statcomm to
conduct business" by hacking into the computer so that patients heard
either a busy signal or "groaning, moaning in a sexual nature."

He also had a moving company show up at Statcomm with a phony order to
pick up six boxes of Statcomm material for the state Department of
Taxation and Finance, she said. In addition, he made "crank and
threatening phone calls" to Statcomm employees and sent forged audit
announcements to 160 Statcomm customers, Pirro said.

She said Martin's actions were "childish but something that we
consider to be criminal behavior."

Martin was charged with computer tampering and possession of a forged
instrument. The maximum prison term would be two and one-third to
seven years.

His attorney, Anthony Keogh, did not immediately return a call seeking

A woman answering a phone at Emergency Response Answering Service
refused to comment and refused to give her name; messages left at
other numbers were not immediately returned.


Copyright 2005 Newsday Inc.

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