A California medical student is facing felony theft charges after allegedly stealing the iPad of a dying cancer patient.
Natalie Packer was a patient at the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center being treated for an aggressive form of breast cancer when she went into cardiac arrest.
Only after the chaos of the Code Blue response and attempts to revive her did Packer’s family notice that the iPad that had been her source of entertainment and communication had disappeared.
The loss was especially wounding to her family, as Packer had used the iPad to write personal messages and information meant for sister Nicole.
The iPad wasn’t missing for long. Shortly after Natalie’s death, the family used the device’s finder app and saw the iPad was still somewhere in the Medical Center – except that the registration had been changed from ‘Natalie’s iPad’ to ‘Virginia’s iPad.’
The family contacted police, and a search warrant issued to Apple for the reregistration information revealed the iPad was in the hands of Virginia Nguyen, 32, a third-year med student, NBC Los Angeles.
She was arrested on the campus in March and hit with criminal charges this July.
Nguyen has since pled not guilty to petty theft, grand theft of lost property, and computer access and fraud.
A felony conviction in the case could severely damage Nguyen’s future in medicine said Cassandra Hockenson, a spokesperson for the California Medical Board.
The accused has declined to respond to interview requests.
As NBC Los Angeles notes, Nguyen’s LinkedIn profile lists her summary as ‘committed to providing social justice and healthcare for diverse populations.’
However the University has issued a statement that she is: ‘not currently employed at UCLA.’
UCLA would not comment on her current status as a student, only that the university enforces an honor code.
‘In those instances when a student’s conduct does not meet those standards, we have administrative procedures that ensure appropriate due process is afforded to the student while also moving swiftly yet fairly to ensure accountability to these standards,’ read a UCLA statement.