Shoplifting plea may doom Hempstead woman

Diane McCloud, second from left, who was released Diane McCloud, second from left, who was released from jail in January to get on a waiting list for a heart transplant, appears outside of court Friday after pleading guilty to shoplifting. A judge sent her back to jail, where she will be ineligible for the transplant, according to her lawyer. (Aug. 12, 2011) Photo Credit: Howard Schnapp

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A Hempstead woman who got a second chance at life in January will no longer be eligible for a heart transplant because she was sent to jail after admitting to stealing beauty products from a drugstore, her lawyer said.

Diane McCloud, 47, sobbed Friday morning as she pleaded guilty to the petit larceny charges before Nassau District Court Judge Francis Ricigliano, the judge who eight months earlier had freed her so she could try to get on a heart transplant waiting list.

Ricigliano immediately sent McCloud back to jail, ordering her to finish serving a 15-month sentence he gave her for the earlier conviction.

While in jail, McCloud, who was told by doctors in January that she had only six months to live, is ineligible for a transplant, said her lawyer, Leonard Isaacs, of Valley Stream.

At a court appearance in April, Ricigliano had sternly warned McCloud, who suffers from end-stage heart failure, that he would reinstate her sentence for stealing $3,800 in items from a Target store in Westbury after he learned she had defied his orders by continuing to smoke cigarettes.

Friday, he said little to her.

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He simply pointed out that this was McCloud's 69th arrest, her 27th on felony charges, and said it was "not the first time" she had failed to comply with his orders.

McCloud pleaded guilty Friday to stealing teeth-whitening strips, diet pills and Oil of Olay beauty cream from an Oceanside CVS on July 16.

"I love you. I love you," she mouthed to family members in the courtroom, momentarily turning away from the judge.

"I'm very disappointed, because a great deal of effort was expended in getting her released from jail," said Isaacs. "Everyone was working toward helping this woman stay alive."

Isaacs said McCloud's future is uncertain.

She will have to finish the remaining eight months she was serving before she was released by Ricigliano, Isaacs said.

And Ricigliano said he will add another six months to that time when he sentences her Sept. 21 on the recent charges.

Although she has outlived the six-month projection, Isaacs said McCloud's doctor told him the medicine she takes to keep her heart pumping will eventually stop working.

He said Sanjay Doddamani, chief of cardiology at Nassau University Medical Center, advised him that transplant programs generally do not consider patients who are incarcerated.

Doddamani said jails are unable to provide the level of medical care to treat a patient before, during and after a transplant operation, Isaacs told Newsday.

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Isaacs said for now McCloud will remain in jail. If she needs to be hospitalized, she will be moved to the jail wing of NUMC.

He said Doddamani had recently informed him that McCloud was doing well -- losing weight and not smoking -- and was likely to be added soon to the transplant list at Mount Sinai Medical Center in Manhattan.

2011 TIMELINE:

Jan. 21 District Court Judge Francis Ricigliano frees Diane McCloud from jail on a petit larceny conviction so that she can seek a heart transplant.

April 26 McCloud is back in court after her cardiologist writes to prosecutors to tell them she is still smoking.

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June 11 Ricigliano agrees to give McCloud another chance to quit smoking.

July 16 McCloud is arrested on petit larceny charges after prosecutors say she stole diet pills, teeth-whitening strips and beauty cream from an Oceanside CVS.

Aug. 12 McCloud pleads guilty to the charges and Ricigliano sends her back to jail to finish the 15-month sentence on her earlier petit larceny conviction.

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