EMS provider, nurse accused of stealing COVID-19 patients' credit cards

Firuz Barotov, an EMS provider in Staten Island, is accused of stealing a card from a patient while transporting him and Danielle Conti, a Staten Island nurse, allegedly stole, used and returned a patient's card


Irene Spezzamonte
Staten Island Advance, N.Y.

NEW YORK — While their health care colleagues risked their lives on the front lines of the coronavirus fight, two medical workers on Staten Island used the pandemic to steal from the afflicted, authorities allege.

Nurse Danielle Conti, 43, and EMS worker Firuz Barotov, 19, were arraigned in Criminal Court in St. George on Friday after being accused of stealing and using credit cards from COVID-19 patients in unrelated cases.

Conti, of Grace Drive in Old Bridge, N.J., allegedly stole a credit card from a dying patient at Staten Island University Hospital in April, the Advance/SILive.com previously reported.

She took the American Express card of Anthony Catapano, 70, who was fighting for his life at the Ocean Breeze campus, and used it to purchase groceries and gas for her car, according to the criminal complaint.

Catapano died of complications of the coronavirus on April 12.

An unauthorized charge made after the patient died was discovered by Catapano’s daughter after his passing, multiple sources previously told the Advance/SILive.com.

“I called the credit card company like an absolute lunatic,” said Tara Catapano, and the charges were removed; however, she then turned her attention to how such charges could ever be made since Anthony was on a ventilator during his stay.

Tara said her father’s credit cards were back in his wallet when she received his belongings about two days after his death.

Since visitors were not currently permitted in the hospital at the time, Tara said the charges were “obviously” from an employee. “This means an employee went in his wallet, stole his credit card, used it and then returned it.”

The nurse was arrested in May and issued a desk appearance ticket.

Conti was released on her own recognizance after appearing before a judge Friday morning.

She is facing several charges including grand larceny in the fourth degree, criminal possession of stolen property and petit larceny, according to the criminal complaint.

She is due back in court on Jan. 6, public records indicate.

A lawyer representing Conti did not immediately respond to a message seeking comment Friday afternoon.

EMS ALLEGEDLY STOLE IN AMBULANCE

Barotov, of Penton Street in Pleasant Plains, was arraigned on Friday as well for allegedly stealing a 63-year-old male coronavirus patient’s credit card while transporting him in an ambulance and using it for several purchases.

Barotov took the patient’s Discover credit card while transporting him from Staten Island University Hospital to an undisclosed location on Staten Island on April 4, the complaint alleges.

The EMS worker used the credit card 26 times in the time frame of about two weeks at several restaurants, pharmacies and at a convenience store on Staten Island, the complaint alleges.

“Yes I was in the back of the ambulance, I took the card,” Barotov told officials, according to the complaint. “I picked the guy’s bag. I picked up the wallet and took one card. I swiped it, then I swiped it again, then I swiped it again. The I threw it away. No one else had it. It was just me.”

Barotov then threw the card in the garbage by the Staten Island Mall in New Springville “because he felt guilty," the complaint states.

Barotov was released on his own recognizance as well.

A lawyer representing Barotov was not publicly listed Friday afternoon.

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©2020 Staten Island Advance, N.Y.

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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