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MOUNT HOLLY, N.J. (AP) -
When Lori Stilley told her friends and family that she had bladder
cancer, they delivered meals, held raffles and a T-shirt sale, hastily
planned and paid for her wedding and raised more than $10,000 for her
But prosecutors say it was all a scam.
Stilley, a 40-year-old who lives in Delran, N.J., was charged Wednesday with theft by deception, charges her lawyer denies.
Authorities say she told
family and friends in February 2011 that she had stage 3 bladder cancer
and would need chemotherapy and radiation. Two months later, she told
them - and posted on her Facebook page and personal website - that it
was now stage 4, which means the cancer was spreading to other parts of
Her friends and supporters
pitched in the way people often do for sick loved ones: making a
schedule of meal deliveries and - when she said she didn't have medical
insurance - raising money.
The Burlington County
Prosecutor's Office said family and friends also hastily planned and
paid for her wedding to her boyfriend last year.
Stilley even wrote an
e-book about her experience. They say "I'mpossible: How A Facebook Group
Loved Me Through Bladder Cancer," selling for $14.99 a copy, raised
more than $3,000.
Her own sister says she was
the one who turned in Stilley. Lori DiGiovanni told WCAU-TV that she
became suspicious when Stilley's story changed quickly. Soon after
telling friends and family that she was making hospice plans and was
being given a month to live, she posted on Facebook that she felt a
miracle coming and was feeling better.
DiGiovanni said she believes her sister needs mental-health help.
Stilley's lawyer, however, said she did not do anything wrong.
"The Prosecutor's Office
has not presented me with any competent evidence that would lead me to
believe they are able to prove my client did anything wrong," Adam
Malamut told the Burlington County Times in a story published Thursday.
"The only evidence I'm aware of are statements made that I believe to be
slanderous in nature from a family member with whom she's had a
Stilley was arrested Wednesday and released on bail of $25,000.
"For this defendant to
represent that she was dying from this terrible disease for the sake of
personal gain and sympathy goes way beyond simply being a criminal
offense," Burlington County Prosecutor Robert Bernardi said in a
statement, "it was extremely cruel to those who were concerned and
worked hard to lend assistance."
2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not
be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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