Ex-UCLA researcher pleads guilty in records case

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LOS ANGELES (AP) — A former UCLA School of Medicine researcher has pleaded guilty to reading confidential private records of celebrities, high-profile patients and co-workers.

Huping Zhou pleaded guilty Friday in U.S. District Court to four counts of violating federal privacy provisions.

U.S. attorney’s office spokesman Thom Mrozek says the 38-year-old defendant committed the violations after he received a dismissal notice related to his job performance in 2003.

He was accused of spending three weeks accessing UCLA patient records more than 300 times, mostly involving well-recognized celebrities.

Sentencing is set for March 22, with a maximum possible penalty of four years in federal prison.