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Co-worker's return after 169 days behind bars shocks hospital staff

September 17, 2009 |  7:21 am
A surgical technician convicted of firing a gun into an occupied car was back on the job last week at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center, just days after being released from jail, despite vows by Los Angeles County officials to crack down on medical personnel with criminal records. 

Norris Smith, 53, had spent 169 days behind bars before pleading no contest to the felony charge Aug. 26. In exchange for the plea, a five-year state prison sentence was suspended. He was placed on probation and ordered to undergo psychiatric treatment and abstain from alcohol, according to court records. Three other felony charges were dismissed. 

Smith's return to work at a county hospital shocked colleagues, who said they have been concerned about his behavior since 2005, when he was suspended after threatening a doctor. He was arrested by Long Beach police in 2004 on suspicion of assault with a firearm, a charge prosecutors declined to pursue. 

Read the full story here.

--Kimi Yoshino