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Former UCLA researcher sentenced for snooping in celebrity files

April 27, 2010 |  3:58 pm

A former researcher at UCLA’s school of medicine was sentenced to four months in federal prison Tuesday for illegally reading the confidential medical files of celebrities and other high-profile patients.

Huping Zhou, who pleaded guilty to four misdemeanor counts earlier this year, was the first person in the country to be sentenced to prison for such an offense, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Los Angeles.

Zhou, 47, began snooping in patient files after he was put on notice in 2003 that he was about to be  fired from his job as researcher, prosecutors said.

There is no evidence that Zhou, a licensed cardiothoracic surgeon in China, attempted to sell any of the information he accessed.

Over the years, UCLA Medical Center has fired several employees for peeking at confidential medical records for such prominent patients as Tom Cruise and Farrah Fawcett.

-- Scott Glover