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 (6/18-6/24)
25 photos Launch gallery
1. Me & the homie @jaleelwhite #RujohnFoundation Happy to be in Jamaica! Good times
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5. Good Morning. Early day in Detroit! Making press rounds for @thebossnetwork's Ladies That Lead Tour. Thank you @traycemadre and @colourbynumbr for my glam.
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6. POWER the best show on TV @djenvy, Queens we so big out here. #EFFENVODKA #FRIGO
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7. They said u lost a step, wasn't explosive as once was, the best days was in the real view, questioned your drive, your leadership, your commitment, you don't have killer instinct, going back home is the worst mistake in your career, he got the coach fired, players traded, won't work between him and Kyrie, Him and Kev won't work, love your teammates to much, there's no way he can deliver a championship in his hometown, etc etc etc.... But guess what THATS NONE OF MY BUSINESS #StriveForGreatness #ThisOneIsForTheLand #PutSomeRespeckOnMyName Hahahaha!!! Yes sir
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8. Oooooh weeee this man right here is responsible for at least three of our four babies!! #JOE ❤❤❤🎤 #rnb #king #voicelikebutter #ForPeetesSake
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9. Hanging with my @abcnetwork family! @abcunclebuck tonite y'all check us out ! @anthonyanderson @traceeellisross
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10. My broski ( @sayeedshahidi ) and I are on Top 5 Live on @go90 at 5 (which is super duper close)! Make sure to tune in :) #UncleBuck #Blackish
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11. Lights out💤 #GoodNight
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12. Late nights mornings
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13. Ran into the lovely talented @siedahgarrett on this brutiful favvuz deh!
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14. #halal #love #thedargans #kattwilliamsSHOW #mashallah when that Jennah piece HIT!! @sweetjennahcollection glasses by @baddieglamaccessories LIZ 😍 @dynamiteko top @dazzledmv and jeans @thevision414 and shoes: @louboutinworld
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15. Big Hair and Optical Illusions #OceanDrive #MiamiLiving #coverparty
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16. MAMA and THE SAVAGES ... ⚓️ #supportyourlocalgirlgang
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17. From the bottom of my ❤️, thank you new followers & old! & hello fellow night owls! #grateful #racheltrue #naturalhair #curlyhair #curlygirl #healthyhair
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18. I feel so grateful because I met these amazing young minds, visiting from Houston TX, during their college tour stop today at #usc.These students are ALL extraordinary and embody academic excellence so I'm humbled to have shared a few moments with them to applaud and celebrate their bright futures ahead! Thank you @EmergeFellows for inviting me to speak and blessing me with your love and attention this afternoon!
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19. Happy Fathers Day Pops. U taught me how to be a man. Lessons of love, hard work & gratefulness. Sorry the fishing didn't stick. LOL. I Love U!
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20. Sky Zone and Ice Cream! Best Fathers Day Ever!! Photo credit @mariahcarey
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21. Look what finally came in the mail 😎 #mtvmovieawards2016 💥+🌽! #straightouttacompton
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22. Claudia Jordan: ....
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23. 'Member that time I almost knocked a bajillion dollar camera off the car? Really? Yeah, me neither! #Greenleaf Episode 2 comin atcha!
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24. Full of love. #birthday #Cabo
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25. Oh hey! Look who just joined Snapchat
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