NEWBERRY COUNTY, SC (WIS) - A Newberry County woman has been arrested and charged after authorities say she lied about her 15-year-old daughter's medical condition to get money.
Angela Ann Chapman, 36, of 205 Lake Street, Whitmire, SC was arrested and charged with Obtaining Goods Under False Pretense after several inquires and concerns were raised to the Newberry County Sheriff's Office about inconsistencies in statements and actions related to the child's medical care and condition.
Investigators say members of the community were told that the 15-year-old girl had a cancer diagnosis and the family even told a number of people including law enforcement officers, who were questioning her about the validity of the story, that the child was treated at St. Jude's hospital in Memphis over the weekend of May 14th.
The family also told many people that the child was undergoing chemotherapy and radiation treatments and told the officers investigating the case that they had received radiation at a local hospital, investigators said.
Because of privacy issues related to health care matters, law enforcement officials were only able to say that based on their investigation there was clearly false and completely untrue statements made about the child's medical condition, need for treatment and treatments received.
The whole incident became so elaborate that the girl posted pictures of herself in pajama type clothes at St. Jude's Hospital after the weekend they supposedly received treatment there, but investigators say a closer look at the pictures revealed that they were all taken in common areas of the hospital such as the lobby and front of the building. Deputies say the pictures were taken solely for the purpose of gaining sympathy and support in the fraud as the child has never been a patient at St. Jude's Children's Hospital.
"Such cases are tragic in so many ways," said Sheriff Lee Foster. "It preys upon the genuine good and sense of community that runs throughout our county and often causes people to hesitate to help others. Our community spirit and true sense of generosity is what makes our county special and I pray that we would not allow one bad situation to prevent us from helping others who are in need."
While the Sheriff could not comment on the child's knowledge or involvement in the situation, he did say that a juvenile had been charged in family court related to the case.
"A lot of good people gave many, prayers and support to this family and now understandably feel betrayed," said Foster.
It also appears that they were untruthful about a number of people in the community who supposedly assisted them in obtaining money or assistance into St. Jude's Hospital, investigators said.
"So many people have been damaged by this," said Foster. "I sincerely hope that this will not keep us for seeing others who truly have a need and offering assistance. As I said earlier, our love and generosity is what makes Newberry County so special and I pray that we would continue to display those attributes in our interaction with each other."
"I have family and friends who have received treatment at St. Jude's Hospital," said Foster. "They do wonderful work there, but the treatments and the suffering there take heavy physical and emotional tolls on the patients and their families. It is despicable to think anyone would fabricate a story about undergoing treatment there when so many families are there hurting and praying for miracles in the life of their sick and often dying children."
The Newberry County Sheriff's Office is also asking anyone who donated money to this purpose to contact them at (803) 321-2222 and let them know your name and how much you donated. While restitution is highly unlikely, investigators say they would like to determine as closely as possible the total amount of money the family received under this guise.
Chapman was arrested Wednesday around lunch time and was released from custody later that afternoon on a Personal Appearance bond.
If you have any information about this case, please contact the Newberry County Sheriff's Office at (803) 321-2222 or www.newberrycountysheriff.com.