A nurse for a New York City Hospital was arrested Thursday after allegedly stealing a dying coronavirus patient’s credit card and using it for gas and groceries.
Danielle Conti, 43, is facing charges of grand larceny, petit larceny and criminal possession of stolen property in connection with the case. Conti allegedly took the credit card from a patient while he was being treated during her work at Staten Island University Hospital, according to the NYPD.
NBC News was unable to reach Conti on Thursday using public records. She was issued an appearance ticket Thursday by police and released.
Anthony Catapano, 70, died of COVID-19, the disease associated with the coronavirus, on April 12 after a week of treatment at the Staten Island University Hospital, according to a Facebook post in April by his daughter, Tara Catapano.
Tara Catapano told NBC News that when her father's American Express statement came in the mail on April 27, she was shocked to find gas and grocery charges made during his hospitalization. She had her father’s wallet, with all his cards, so she felt as if it had to be someone at the hospital.
After some confusion as to whether she could file a report on behalf of her dead father, police were able to investigate the alleged theft.
“From the very beginning, I knew it was a hospital employee. It would have to be,” she said. “But I even told someone, 'It couldn’t be a doctor or nurse.' Those words actually left my mouth.”
Tara Catapano, who works in a medical office, was shocked to learn she was wrong.
“This was someone who was supposed to care for my father,” she said. “She went in there and gave him his medicine and then, what, went for his wallet? I can’t even wrap my head around it.”
The added stress of figuring out what happened with her father’s belongings has compounded an already difficult grieving process.
Due to restrictions put in place to curb the coronavirus pandemic, families are not typically allowed to stay with their loved ones in hospitals. Catapano was lucky enough to see her father twice because of her own connections in the medical field, but she said others aren’t so lucky.
She knows that families around the world are feeling helpless as their loved ones are hospitalized in isolation, and the idea that patients could be taken advantage of is horrible.
“I wanted the story to be out there because I wanted people to be aware that this was happening to people,” Tara Catapano said. “This could be happening to your mother or your father, and I don’t want that.”
Staten Island University Hospital said in a statement Thursday that Conti, who was hired in 2007, has been temporarily suspended and faces termination.
“We are working closely with the law enforcement authorities and the hospital is conducting its own investigation,” the statement said.
Anthony Capatano lived with his daughter over the last few years after his wife, Nancy, died in 2014. The couple had been married for nearly 36 years.
He worked for the Department of Sanitation for 26 years and was the type of man who would give his shirt off his back for others, his daughter said.
His 12-year-old granddaughter, the child of his late son, was “the light of his life,” Tara Catapano said.
Despite all the difficulties though, she says people have been incredibly kind after she shared her story on social media. It took her some time to read the more than 1000 comments on her Facebook post about her father, but it’s given her some reassurance.
“You know these strangers said the nicest things to me, comforting me,” Tara Catapano said. “It was just very nice, it was as if they knew me.”