CENTENNIAL, Colo. (AP) — A suburban Denver woman who collected tens of thousands of dollars in charitable contributions after lying about her 6-year-old son having cancer was sentenced Tuesday to five years of probation and 90 nights in jail.
A judge ordered Sandy Nguyen, of Aurora, to start serving 90 days of work release in two weeks. She will work during the day and then report back to jail at night, KUSA-TV reported (http://on9news.tv/1rpwgbb ).
Nguyen, 29, pleaded guilty in September to one count each of charitable fraud and child abuse.
Police say she convinced her son, family and others in the community that the boy had leukemia and had been receiving treatment since about September 2012. According to court documents, she posted detailed updates about her son's purported treatments on Facebook, claiming he had 317 days of chemotherapy, seven days of radiation and other procedures.
Prosecutors said the boy was led to believe he was receiving chemotherapy at night when he was asleep. He also shaved his head every morning before he went to school.
The scheme began to unravel after a doctor in the oncology department at Children's Hospital Colorado became suspicious after overhearing Nguyen telling people that her son was being treated there.
Various community and school fundraisers raised some $25,000 for the family. According to Nguyen's arrest affidavit, police said $23,000 in cash was found in her closet and she had used other money to pay for a family trip to Disneyland.
"What makes this especially aggravating is that the defendant convinced everyone — including her own child — that he was extremely sick," said Jacob Edson, who prosecuted the case. "The child was introduced to the concept of death before he really had a chance to be a kid."
Information from: KUSA-TV, http://www.9news.com