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EDWARDSVILLE, Ill. (AP) — A western Illinois woman accused of falsely claiming she and her son had cancer has been sentenced to 18 months in prison.
Melissa D. Barton, 28, was sentenced Monday after pleading guilty in October to two counts of felony theft by deception. She was indicted in 2014 on charges of soliciting funds from numerous donors for fraudulent cancer claims.
Barton has also been ordered to pay nearly $1,300 in restitution.
Authorities say the case came to light after a man with a medical background created a fundraising page for Barton and her son, whom she claimed had an acute form of leukemia. The man became suspicious that some of the details and photos were inconsistent with the cancer treatment that was supposedly in progress.
Authorities say Barton asked and received money from religious organizations, individuals and online donation sites.
Barton said she thought she had cancer after finding a lump in her breast. She said the fundraising drives were set up by others without consulting her.
But police in Troy determined Barton had a biopsy that showed a benign tumor, according to Chris Coyne, a former detective with the Troy Police Department. Records also showed that her son was healthy and cancer-free. Coyne said the investigation also found Barton faked cancer in Mascoutah, a community about 20 miles south of Troy.
In court, the prosecution also showed a video that Barton posted online to thank her supporters as she reacted to biopsies, diagnosis and treatment.
"I just wanted to do this video so you guys can see that I am real," she said in the video. "Just know I care about you all and I love you very much, and we hope for nothing but the best because I do have two little ones to take care of."
Barton said during testimony that she had been treated for manic depression, panic disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder.