MOUNT HOLLY, N.J. -- 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 treatment.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.
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 body.
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.
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 Impossible: How A Facebook Group Loved Me Through Bladder Cancer, selling for $14.99 a copy, raised more than $3,000.
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.
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 fractured relationship."
Stilley was arrested Wednesday and released on bail of $25,000.
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."