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 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.
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 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.
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 fractured relationship."
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."
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This Week’s Celebrity Instagrams (10/15-10/21)
31 photos Launch gallery
1. Just a NY girl with BIG dreams....
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2. HAPPY CHILDREN=QUALITY PARENTING. We don't always see eye to eye on everything and that's normal. We're human beings. But we come together and do it right for what's important, the kids. We are not enemies, we are parents. And we are parents 1st. S/O to @monyettashaw for making Mason's bday memorable. S/O to @itscrystalsmith at home taking care of our other lil' Prince. ❤️❤️❤️ THIS IS WHAT CO-PARENTING LOOKS LIKE. #Blessed #Happy #AboveTheDrama #BiggerThanUs
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3. So happy to finally be able to share with you all that I’m the new Global Brand Ambassador for @Revlon! Follow my day on RevlonSnaps. Yay! Choose Love, Everybody! #RevlonXCiara #chooselove #ad
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4. Glam on point!!!@makeupbymotoko & @shaylinjoneshair #easybreezy @lifetimetv #beachesmovie #january2017 😘
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5. ✨True love ✨📸: @jessiemarrerophotography
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7. Today was not easy..but by the grace of God we all got through it. Words cannot express our gratitude for all of your Prayers, Positive thoughts and Support for us throughout the years. Tommy will be missed but most certainly never forgotten...And PLEASE don't ask "Where's Martin?.." he was there too...just not in this picture. Lol! God bless you all.. #LoveConquersAll #MartinShow
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9. West coast get ready for #RockyHorror. I will be live tweeting again. #letsdothetimewarpagain
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10. #THEKEYS pre order yours now ... Available everywhere #NOV22 #WeTheBest 🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑🔑
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11. We about to ROCK at #KCABlackBall!! All for our life-changing effort to end 🌎 AIDS.
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12. Today's #SNAPJACK is brought to you by @yazzthegreatest 😂😂😂💋💋💋
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13. Damn girl you kinda old to be headed to the Go Go. You coming in at the age they leaving. LMAO
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14. Daddy daycare B-Boxin with @acewellstucker @shopraisingace
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15. #FBF Naviyd & URV "LIL MONSTERS"
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16. HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ONE OF THE BIGGEST LEGENDS IN OUR HIPHOP HISTORY! @snoopdogg CONTINUED BLESSING AND LOVE FAMILY!!!!! REAL OG!
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17. Thank you for a beautiful night VSU! Let's do it again! #HOMECOMING
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18. Had a great time this morning with my familia Erica, Griff & Truth!!
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19. Check out my interview on @essence facebook live. #inmyownwords #nycpromo #day2
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20. #She💋 #tbt #TheCoveAtTheAtlantis #DawgPawsAndAll
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21. Bae #retailtherapy
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22. Why me and @coryhardrict got the same pose... and notee... new mouth #naked
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23. When my husband is my personal 'hype-man'! it kills me every time! 💜😂 #WHATNOW #lostfiles📷
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24. Diggy Simmons
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25. Hand full of @jacquieaiche 💙💎💍 @esnail_la 💅🏾
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26. SuperSoulers! You can watch my interview with Carl Lentz live from my Facebook page, tomorrow at 11a ET| 8a PT. #SuperSoulSunday
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27. 💋 .. When the friendship is easy like Sunday morning. ☀️
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28. Sunday mornings are the best........... hugs and cuddles with my angel
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29. #huggar16 #hellohuggars
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30. My gym is everywhere!.. #RnBMoney #TheGeneral 📸: @twelvepastseven
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31. Nothing I would rather be doing... Rocko setting up our movie, Romelō working on a puzzle & Laiyah singing and sharing all she's learning at school... I'm so grateful for the joy they've brought into my life ... Praying for peace , joy & love in the home of EVERY family ♥️ #HeadScarfPJSunday LOL 😂
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