Victim pays more for theft than thieves

March 25, 1995|By Mike Farabaugh | Mike Farabaugh,Sun Staff Writer

Karen Ann Stout successfully defended her doctoral dissertation yesterday at the University of Delaware.

Earning a Ph.D. is hard enough, but Ms. Stout of Bel Air paid a high price for hers -- perhaps more than two Harford men who a year ago stole her laptop computer -- and two disks full of information gathered for her dissertation.

One of the two thieves got a one-year suspended sentence last fall. The other got six months in jail when he was sentenced Wednesday. Both had been convicted in Harford Circuit Court.

And Ms. Stout, 38, who is dean of planning, research and communications at Camden County College in New Jersey, had to start researching her dissertation all over again.

The two disks containing the information were not with the computer when police returned it to her March 6, 1994, a day after it was stolen.

"At first I was angry at the intrusion and then bitter after the first young man got no jail time," she said.

"Being discouraged kept me from sitting down and getting back into reconstructing all the research that had been lost."

She said that after her notes were lost, she began believing that she was not meant to finish her doctorate in educational leadership from the University of Delaware.

In August, Ms. Stout said she finally forced herself to begin "three to four months of intensive work to catch up."

One of the thieves, Hung Phung Nguyen, 25, of Bel Air pleaded guilty to the theft and was given a suspended one-year sentence in October, Harford Circuit Court records show.

The other, Howard Neal Johnson III, 21, of Forest Hill was convicted in a February jury trial. Wednesday he was sentenced to 18 months, with all but six months suspended.

Police never located the disks.

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