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Cancer fraud: Woman gets 9-month sentence

BOWLING GREEN — A North Baltimore woman who faked having cancer and took more than $8,800 in donations said Friday she lied to hide "another battle" she was fighting with depression and addiction.

"I didn't have the courage to tell the truth," Kimberlie R. Gustwiller told Wood County Common Pleas Judge Alan Mayberry.The judge sentenced Gustwiller, 39, to nine months in prison on a theft charge and ordered her to make restitution.

"Your lies in this case are an assault on the community and to your children and a slap in the face to anyone who has had cancer," Mayberry said.

Gustwiller was immediately taken to jail.She claimed in September 2012 to have stage IV non-Hodgkin lymphoma and collected $8,811 in donations and services from residents of North Baltimore and McComb.

A police investigation began after an anonymous tip questioned Gustwiller's diagnosis, North Baltimore Police Chief Allan Baer said.Baer said he, too, noticed Gustwiller appeared to be in good health during periods when she was reportedly undergoing treatment.

Police obtained a court order to review her medical records, he said, and no cancer diagnosis was found.

Gustwiller pleaded guilty in May to a third-degree felony count of theft from the elderly. More than 100 people contributed to Gustwiller, including about a dozen senior citizens, according to Baer.

Gustwiller choked back tears Friday as she read a statement to the court apologizing for the lie. She said depression and substance abuse, including abuse of prescription medication, caused her to lose half her body weight and left her weak. She told a family member she had been diagnosed with cancer to hide her true condition. She said the situation got out of control

Since her arrest, Gustwiller said, she has lost her job, home and close friends, but said she got help for the depression and addiction, and is sober. She has since moved to Findlay.

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