An Illinois woman has been sentenced to prison after she lied about having cancer.
Melissa Barton, 28, from Belleville, Illinois, will serve 18 months in prison and 30 months of probation after she said she had cancer and that her son had leukemia so she could solicit donations, reports the New York Post.
Barton will also have to pay $1,290 in restitution for the fraud. She lied to get $500 from a church and more than $500 from other donors.
She was charged with two counts of theft by deception. She pleaded guilty in December 2016 and was sentenced on July 24.
Barton had said she thought she had cancer because she found a lump in her breast, and that others had set up the fundraisers for her and her son. Her son does not have cancer, either.
Troy Police Detective Chris Coyne said she had been fully aware of the fundraising drives, and she had taken the money that was raised, according to the Belleville News-Democrat.
Coyne said Barton's biopsy results were benign, and she had known about the results.
Coyne added that she had worn a baseball cap in one video to hide her hair, claiming she lost her hair after chemotherapy treatments. She never underwent cancer treatments and Coyne said he saw her hair was coming out from under the hat.
In one video posted online, Barton said she was "freaking out" about her results.
"I just did not want to hear that today," said a tearful Barton in the video. "I've never seen my husband cry until today. I am way too young to go anywhere ... I will fight until I beat it and I will not quit."
In court, Barton said she had been treated for manic depression, PTSD and panic disorder, and that her son, who she said is autistic, requires frequent medical care.
"Mental illness can be just as bad as cancer," said prosecutor Katie Warren.
"I messed up and I'm sorry," said Barton. "Through hard work and dedication, I will pay back every cent that the court determines and then some."
A month earlier, another Illinois woman was charged with faking a cancer diagnosis to steal money, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
Alissa Jackson was charged with two counts of felony theft for claiming she had cancer so she could raise money. Jackson reportedly raised thousands of dollars and police said her Alissa's Army fundraiser had an "international reach."
"It’s a shame that someone would claim to have cancer just to receive money," said Troy Police Chief Brad Parsons. "Troy is a community that will come together to help each other when it’s needed. It is acts like this that make people more hesitant to assist those that really need the help."