Mayo Clinic Radiology Tech Pleads Guilty to Spreading Hepatitis C

JACKSONVILLE, FL—United States Attorney Robert E. O’Neill announces today that Steven Beumel (48, Jacksonville) pleaded guilty to one count of tampering with a consumer product resulting in death, four counts of tampering with a consumer product resulting in serious bodily injury, and five counts of stealing Fentanyl by deception. Beumel faces a maximum penalty of life in federal prison. He was arrested by FBI agents on May 24, 2011 and has remained in custody since his arrest. A sentencing date has not been yet scheduled.

According to court documents, Beumel was a radiology technician at Memorial Hospital from May 1992 through October 2004. He worked as a radiology technician at the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville from October 2004 through August 2010. Beumel admitted, in court, that he stole syringes of Fentanyl during patients’ procedures and replaced them with syringes of saline contaminated with hepatitis C. Beumel’s tampering occurred from 2006 through 2008 at the Mayo Clinic’s intervetonal radiology unit.

Epidemiologists from the Mayo Clinic, Florida Department of Health, and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) worked for more than three years to solve the hepatitis C outbreak at the Mayo Clinic. It was eventually linked to Beumel. The Mayo Clinic immediately fired Buemel and reported his actions to law enforcement. The clinic tested thousands of patients who were potentially put at risk by Beumel’s actions. Two patients from that testing effort were linked to Beumel.

The first patient discovered to have hepatitis C linked to Beumel was a liver transplant patient who received a new liver in September 2006. During a radiology procedure in November 2006, Beumel took this patient’s Fentanyl and infected him with hepatitis C. The patient battled hepatitis C for almost four years. He died from complications related to hepatitis C, never knowing how he got it.

This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Food and Drug Administration, the Florida Department of Financial Services, and the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office’s Homicide Unit. It is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Frank Talbot.