HIV data leak: US trial date set for Mikhy Farrera-Brochez after he pleads not guilty

Farrera-Brochez speaks with media before a hearing in Kentucky, Feb 18, 2019. ST PHOTO: ARDEN BARNES FOR THE STRAITS TIIMES

LEXINGTON, KENTUCKY - Mikhy Farrera-Brochez, the American at the centre of Singapore's HIV database leak, pleaded not guilty to three charges related to stolen identification documents from Singapore on Tuesday (March 19) in a Kentucky federal court.

His not-guilty plea means the case will now proceed to trial on May 7.

The trial is expected to last three days, said United States government prosecutor Dmitriy Slavin.

Farrera-Brochez, 34, was named by the Ministry of Health as the person behind the online leak of Singapore's HIV Registry in January. His partner, Singaporean doctor Ler Teck Siang, had access to the database as head of the National Public Health Unit.

Farrera-Brochez was deported to the US in April 2018 after serving a jail sentence for fraud and drug-related offences.

The first two charges, of intent to extort, involve e-mails he sent this year threatening to release the HIV database and injure the reputation of the Singapore Government and its officials.

Each charge carries a penalty of up to two years in jail, a fine of up to US$250,000 (S$338,000) and supervised release of up to one year.

The third charge concerns his unlawful transfer or possession of identification documents with the intent to extort.

He may be jailed up to five years, fined up to US$250,000 and be subject to supervision for up to three years after his release, if found guilty of this charge.

He will also have to forfeit his mobile phones, electronic storage devices and e-mail accounts used to commit the crimes if found guilty.

After the court hearing, Farrera-Brochez's lawyer Jay Oakley told The Straits Times that his client has the right to a trial if he is not happy with settlement offers put on the table by prosecutors.

"We're preparing as if we're going to trial," said Mr Oakley. "Things appear to be directed that way."

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