by John R. Fischer
, Senior Reporter | September 15, 2023
A former biomedical technician who stole more than $100,000 in equipment from three different hospitals and sold them on eBay will spend the next three years on probation and has been ordered to pay nearly $170,000 in restitution to the providers, along with a $1,000 fine.
From October 2018 to July 2019, Denis Tkachuk worked at Providence St. Peter Hospital in Olympia, Washington state. During this time there, he stole 71 thermometers, 595 thermometer probes, 183 finger sensors, and 180 otoscope heads that together were worth more than $108,000. He covered his tracks using his authorization to purchase non-capital items worth less than $5,000.
But an inventory review in August 2019 led staff to become suspicious and tip-off law enforcement. An investigation by the FDA Office of the Inspector General through Tkachuk’s emails, bank accounts, and hospital records, revealed his thefts spanned as far back as 2016 when he worked for Kadlec Hospital in Richland, followed by Harborview Medical Center in Seattle.
Tkachuk, who now lives in North Carolina, pled guilty to wire fraud in May, saying that he committed the thefts to support his family and his recently divorced mother-in-law and her seven younger children, according to the Tri-City Herald
Because of his cooperation and personal circumstances, the prosecution did not request jail time but said that a form of punishment was necessary.
“These were devices intended for use by patients, physicians, and nurses to treat illness and remedy severe injuries. This offense caused loss to the hospitals, excess work for the individuals responsible for maintaining the stock, and the unavailability of vital medical devices when needed by physicians,” Assistant United States Attorney Hillary Stuart wrote to the court.
During its inspection, staff at Providence determined that a large portion of the equipment bought by Tkachuk was missing and had not been used at the hospital or within the Providence healthcare group, leading the hospital to fire Tkachuk and file a police report.
The FDA Office of the Inspector General found that he sold the products mostly to a coconspirator in Detroit, as well as five other buyers, posting photos of the stolen goods on eBay and receiving money initially via PayPal and Zelle and later in cash payments by mail.
U.S. Judge Robert J. Bryan, of the U.S. District Court in Tacoma, ordered Tkachuk to pay $169,806 in restitution. The Detroit coconspirator also received a probationary sentence.
Tkachuk is currently the sole caretaker of his two children and will be allowed to continue to work while under probation to support his family.