Jury deliberations continue in case of Maryland doctors accused of conspiring to pass medical records to Russia

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Dr. Anna Gabrielian, left, walks with her lawyer, Christopher Mead, into federal court. Garbrielian is standing trial this week along with her spouse, Dr. Jamie Lee Henry, in federal court in Baltimore on allegations that they conspired to provide confidential patient medical records to Russia after its invasion of Ukraine. (Lloyd Fox/The Baltimore Sun/TNS)

BALTIMORE — Jury deliberations in the case of two Maryland doctors accused of passing private medical records to an agent posing as a Russian official stretched through Wednesday and will continue Thursday.

After several notes from the jury Wednesday indicating it was struggling to reach a consensus, U.S. District Judge Stephanie A. Gallagher released jurors for the day around 5 p.m.

“As of this afternoon, we are unable to come to a unanimous verdict,” the jury’s latest note read. “What happens if we do not come to a unanimous verdict?”

The panel will resume deliberations around 9 a.m. Thursday. In sum, the jury has been considering evidence in the case for about eight hours.

Dr. Anna Gabrielian, who was a Johns Hopkins anesthesiologist, and her spouse, Dr. Jamie Lee Henry, who is a major and physician in the U.S. Army, are charged with conspiring to provide individually identifiable health information to Russia in the months after it invaded Ukraine. They also face several counts each of disclosing private medical records.

The government’s case against the couple largely consisted of hours of footage captured by the covert camera of an undercover FBI agent who met with Gabrielian and Henry several times last August under the guise of being a Russian official. During one of those meetings, the doctors provided medical information of eight of their patients to the agent.

“These two defendants want to be long-term weapons for Russia,” prosecutor Aaron Zelinsky, deputy chief of the Maryland U.S. Attorney’s Office’s National Security and Cybercrime Section, said during closing arguments.

Defense lawyers for the couple contend the doctors only wanted to help save lives during the nascent war and that the undercover agent coerced them to break the law. They also said the government had no evidence that their clients’ actions were motivated by causing “malicious harm” to America or for personal gain, the elements of intent required to find them guilty.

“This was not about helping Russia and hurting the United States. This was about offering humanitarian aid,” Henry’s attorney, David Walsh-Little, said in closing.

Gabrielian’s attorney, Christopher Mead, described the investigation as misguided during closing arguments.

“It has resulted in the prosecution of two innocent people,” Mead told the jury.

The undercover FBI agent testified last week in “light disguise” and her undercover name, Lena Simon. For the duration of the agent’s testimony, the courtroom was physically closed to everybody but attorneys in the case, court personnel and the jury. An audio feed of the agent’s testimony was broadcast into another courtroom for others to listen.

Prosecutors played all of the footage captured by the agent’s camera in court. The agent spoke to Gabrielian, who was born in Russia, in Russian during their meetings. Lawyers on the case agreed on a translation of the conversations, and the video featured English subtitles. The jury also got a binder with an English transcription of the meetings.

Near the end of her second meeting with the undercover agent, Gabrielian appeared to notice the agent’s camera.

She and her lawyer said that was around the time she started believing she was dealing with a Russian intelligence officer, rather than an official from the embassy. Gabrielian had contacted the embassy five days after the outset of the war, identifying her and Henry as doctors who wanted to assist Russia.

Gabrielian testified that the prospect of dealing with a Russian intelligence officer led her to fear for her and her family’s safety, including relatives who live in Russia and Ukraine. She said she only complied with the undercover agent’s requests for medical records out of fear of retribution.

Mead said the lack of evidence of the doctors’ intent to commit crimes before the agent began probing for it made entrapment a “slam dunk,” and that the jury should acquit them as a result.

Several notes from the jury indicate they are hung up on the concept of entrapment.

Around 3 p.m., Gallagher read a note from the panel saying it was “divided 11 to 1 on whether or not there was entrapment.”

It went on to say jurors were disputing whether the defendants were predisposed to commit the crimes. If the jury finds Gabrielian and Henry would’ve committed the crimes regardless of whether the FBI agent approached them, the entrapment defense fails.

After asking about the implications of not reaching a unanimous verdict, the jury’s last note to the court Wednesday continued, “We have been deliberating about entrapment all day. If we can’t unanimously agree on entrapment, how do we move forward? Does it need to be proven that the defendants would’ve committed the crimes for certain if the agent had not approached?”

The FBI’s probe, testified the agent who led the investigation, Matthew Walker, evolved when investigators realized Gabrielian was married to Henry. The agency was concerned Russian officials might take advantage of the doctors’ offer of help and convince Henry to abuse his “secret” security clearance with the Army to provide classified documents.

It’s unclear from trial testimony whether Henry, who was trying to leave the military, still had a security clearance at the time of the crimes charged.

The records Henry and Gabrielian showed the undercover agent were considered individually identifiable health information, and violated the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act.

During her testimony, Gabrielian said she knew it was illegal to disclose patient records.