Former UI hospital administrator pleads guilty in 3-decade identity fraud scheme

A former systems architect with the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics has pled guilty in a three-decade identity fraud scheme — which began at a hot dog cart and cost the victim 575 days of freedom. 

Matthew David Keirans, 58, served more than a decade in the Iowa City-based hospital's IT department, a spokesperson confirmed to Becker's April 2. He obtained the job using a fictitious I-9, social security number and date of birth. 

During his employment, Mr. Keirans "was the key administrator of critical systems" and had the "highest" possible level of access to the hospital's computer infrastructure, according to an April 1 news release from the U.S. Attorney's Office. He worked remotely from his home in Wisconsin, which is not an uncommon arrangement in the IT department, the hospital spokesperson said. 

Mr. Keirans was terminated for "misconduct" July 20, 2023. The spokesperson said: "The University of Iowa acted promptly as soon as it learned of the matter. We worked collaboratively with federal and state law enforcement on the investigation."

Now, Mr. Keirans — who was convicted of one count of false statement to a national credit union administration insured institution and one count of aggravated identity theft — faces up to 32 years in prison and a $1.25 million fine. He pled guilty in federal court in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, on April 1. 

Mr. Keirans met his victim in the late 1980s when the two worked together at an Albuquerque hot dog cart, according to the news release. He assumed the victim's identity and used it to obtain false documentation in the victim's name, including a Kentucky birth certificate. 

For more than 30 years, Mr. Keirans lived under his victim's identity in all aspects of his life, including his role at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics. Between August  2016 and May 2022, he used his victim's identity to obtain eight loans totaling more than $200,000 and maintained deposits at a national bank. 

In 2019, Mr. Keirans' victim — who was homeless — entered a branch of the bank in Los Angeles and reported that someone was using his credit to accumulate debt. He said he did not want to pay the debt, and wished to close the accounts. 

The bank called the Los Angeles Police Department, who contacted Mr. Keirans, still living under the victim's identity. Mr. Keirans said he lived in Wisconsin and did not give anyone permission to access the accounts; he faxed phony documents to the police, who arrested his victim on two felony charges under the name "Matthew Keirans."

Over the next few years, the victim spent 428 days in county jail and 147 in a mental hospital, where he was prescribed psychotropic medication after being found not mentally competent to stand trial. Mr. Keirans frequently contacted the police department and Los Angeles District Attorney for updates on his victim's prosecution, while the victim continued to assert that he was not Mr. Keirans. 

In March 2021, the victim pled "no contest" to felony charges in exchange for a time-served sentence and was released from jail. The state court ordered the victim to "use only their true name, Matthew Keirans," in the future. 

The victim made "numerous attempts to regain custody of identity" while Mr. Keirans made false reports against him through law enforcement agencies in Wisconsin and California, according to the news release. 

In January 2023, the victim learned that Mr. Keirans was employed by the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics and contacted the hospital. The complaint was referred to a local law enforcement agency, which used DNA evidence to confirm that Mr. Keirans was not the son of the Kentucky man that his false birth certificate asserted — but that his victim was. 

When interviewed by police in July 2023, Mr. Keirans first insisted the victim was "crazy" and "needed help and should be locked up," per court documents. He confessed to the scheme when presented with DNA evidence. 

A sentencing date will be set after a presentence report is prepared.

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