West Jordan Woman Accused of Faking Disease, Taking $16,000 in Donations

West Jordan Woman Accused of Faking Disease, Taking $16,000 in Donations

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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- A West Jordan woman faces several felony counts of theft and forgery for allegedly feigning a deadly disease and accepting more than $16,000 in donations after the community rallied to support her.

Tania Clark, 33, allegedly told family, neighbors, friends and fellow parents she was dying of myeloma, a rare kind of cancer, and was $62,000 short of receiving a much-needed bone marrow transfusion.

To back up her story, Clark allegedly produced a letter written by a Dr. Robert Bates at the MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston explaining her medical condition.

On Jan. 8, the Timpanogos Amateur Hockey Association, a league in which Clark's two sons played, gave Clark $1,000. Between Nov. 4, 2004, and Feb. 5, 2005, Oakcrest Elementary School, through a "Coins for Caring" campaign, raised more than $6,000, according to the criminal complaint.

Clark's neighbors, also pitched in, and from Nov. 5, 2004, through Feb. 5, 2005, raised more than $9,000 for the purportedly sick woman. Others offered to donate their bone marrow.

The woman's story began to unravel when an article in the South Valley Journal prompted an e-mail from her sister, who said the Clark could not be trusted. Others called the newspaper and warned she had pulled similar scams before.

In a statement to police, Clark allegedly admitted she has never been diagnosed or treated for cancer. According to court documents, no person named Bates -- the doctor who had written the letter describing her condition -- ever practiced medicine at the MD Anderson Cancer Center.

Sandy Curtis, whose son played hockey with Clark's two sons on the Provo Predators team, said, "We've been expecting (the charges) to come, so it's not really a surprise to any of us."

However, she did say Clark was "really outgoing, always wanted to make sure everyone was happy," Curtis said. "And that was the thing. She loved those kids and did so much for them."

(Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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