41-year-old Lori E. Stilley was sentenced to 500 hours of community service yesterday for faking cancer to receive donation money. The New Jersey native and mother of two claimed in February 2011 that she was diagnosed with terminal bladder cancer, fooling even her own family. She pled guilty in May to receiving $12,000 in donations.
According to Philly.com, Stilley committed to the lie. She created a Facebook page and both published and sold an e-book about her fake struggle. Neighbors volunteered to bring over meals and even funded her wedding. Since Stiley was uninsured, her sister made “Team Lori Strong,” T-shirts to raise money as well as a “beef-and-beer” fundraiser. Stiley even showed up to her niece’s soccer game in a wheelchair.
The Burlington County judge called her crimes, “despicable,” and “unspeakable” but what he finds most disturbing is the emotional torture she inflicted upon her children. She constantly bade her two children tearful regrets she would not see them graduate or marry. The elder daughter was reticent to leave the house or visit her father for fear that her mother would die while she was out. Her mother used her fake cancer frequently in spats saying things like, “How could you be so mean when you know Mommy's dying?” She has even kept her children deluded throughout the case, saying she has falsely pled guilty to put the matter behind her.
Stilley still has custody over her 13-year-old daughter and 8-year-old son and is remarried. The judge sentenced her to the maximum hours of community service plus restitution instead of jail time given her children at home. However he is referring the two-hour transcript of the case over to authorities reviewing her right to custody. Stiley responded with only “yes,” or “no” to questions. Her children were not present at the trial.
Her sister told the judge, “My sister faked an illness, but she has taken so many lives," before asking him to impose the maximum penalties.