A pathological liar who told everyone her young son had terminal cancer, pretended to be a doctor and fraudulently raised funds for him has been sentenced to probation.
According to a report in Cincinnati.com, a Hamilton County judge told 40-year-old Monika Burgett that she needs “significant help” before sentencing her Wednesday to five years’ probation.
Burgett was convicted in August of misdemeanor child endangerment and telecommunications fraud. In his efforts to give the woman the opportunity to “get her life back together,” Judge Curt Hartman ordered an extensive treatment plan and the repayment of more than $26,000 to the GoFundMe fundraising site.
Burgett’s 5-year-old son has a genetic condition, called neurofibromatosis, that causes benign growths, according to court documents. However, Burgett claimed that the boy had cancer and sought unnecessary treatment for him at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center.
“You need help. You need significant help,” Hartman said before imposing the maximum five-year probation sentence on her. “The court wants to be in a position to make sure that happens…for the protection of your children and the public.”
Burgett was found guilty in August of a misdemeanor child endangerment charge and felony telecommunications fraud after it was revealed she had convinced doctors, family members, and even her own husband that her son had cancer and subsequently raised money through GoFundMe.
She also convinced everyone that she, herself, was a doctor. She now acknowledges that she was lying.
According to testimony, Burgett’s invented symptoms caused doctors to treat her son with powerful pain drugs like Oxycodone and Methadone.
A psychiatrist testified that Burgett is not mentally ill and seems to be aware of her deceptions. According to the judge, she was engaging in something called “selective misrepresentation.”
“You can modify what you’re saying,” said Hartman, “to fit the moment and the circumstances.”
Assistant Prosecutor Anne Flanagan said Burgett had used her son “as a tool,” shaving his head and eyebrows and posting photos of him on GoFundMe. On one page, she claimed that the boy had a brain tumor and that “some of the best oncologists” were treating him.
“People donated for the wrong reasons because they didn’t have the truth,” Flanagan noted.
Burgett’s son and her two other children now live with family members in Texas. If she violates probation, Burgett will face three years in prison.
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