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Freed for heart transplant, convict loses 2nd chance after petty theft

By Nina Golgowski, CNN
  • Diane McCloud, 47, was out of prison to take part in a heart transplant program
  • Prosecutors say she stole Oil of Olay skin cream, Crest teeth whitening strips and diet pills
  • She has been ordered back in prison and ineligible for the life-saving program

New York (CNN) -- A convicted shoplifter caught stealing while released from prison for a life-saving heart transplant has been ordered back to jail, destroying her eligibility for the treatment.

"Friday, everything changed," defense attorney Leonard Isaacs of Valley Stream, New York, said for his client Diane McCloud, 47, who in January, he said, was diagnosed as having end-stage heart disease with an estimated six months to live.

She was released in January for treatment. McCloud was arrested again on July 16 for stealing Oil of Olay skin cream, Crest teeth whitening strips and diet pills from a Long Island CVS drug store, according to Chris Munzina, a spokesman for the Nassau County District Attorney's office. He said it was her 69th arrest.

Pleading guilty to the petit larceny charge Friday, McCloud was ordered back to the Nassau County Correctional Facility to finish the remainder of her 15 months, tacking on an additional six months for the most recent July theft, according to Isaacs.

"It's a very unfortunate, tragic conclusion to a situation that I had hoped was going to end very positively," Isaacs said, describing McCloud as having worked hard to meet health eligibility requirements with her cardiologist from the Nassau University Medical Center, which included quitting smoking.

Issacs says McCloud's latest arrest and incarceration makes her ineligible for the Mount Sinai heart transplant program where she was previously seeking treatment.

He described her as understandably distraught Friday, tearful at the decision, with her daughter and friends in the courtroom's attendance.

But Isaacs called the judge, Francis Ricigliano "very fair" and "kind" for not upholding an original threat made at her January release of increasing her 15 month sentence to 24 if arrested while seeking treatment. That would be one year for each of the two petty larceny charges she was currently serving.

Regardless, Isaacs says her cardiologist believes the medicine McCloud is currently taking to keep her heart going will only work for a limited amount of time, though she has already passed the six month expectancy previously given.

"It appears that we're approaching the end period" when that medication will stop working, Isaacs said. "However, it was a guesstimate and no one can predict exactly."

Reporting discomfort following Friday's decision, McCloud was taken to Winthrop-University hospital before she returns to the correctional facility where she will serve the remainder of her term, according to Isaacs.