INDIANAPOLIS – An Indianapolis woman who lied about her son’s cancer diagnosis so she could collect donations has accepted a plea deal.
According to the Marion County Prosecutor’s Office, Stephanie Weddle agreed to plead guilty to a count of forgery. In exchange, prosecutors will drop the other forgery and theft charges filed against her. She’s due in court Wednesday.
According to police, Weddle said her son had small cell lung cancer. She received about $1,400 in donations, which investigators said she used to pay for utilities, gas, sports registration fees and other expenses. People had donated the money to help Weddle pay for her son’s medical bills—even though the boy wasn’t sick.
In February, Fox 59 covered a fundraising effort put together by the boy’s wrestling coach, Jake O’Neill, who learned about the story and wanted to help. He grew out his beard, raised money and donated it to the family.
As part of the plea deal, Weddle will have to pay back approximately $1,400 dollars, including more than $1,200 to O’Neill. The agreement caps her sentence at four years and calls for her to serve it with Community Corrections instead of going to prison.
Police said Weddle’s story fell apart when people noticed her son didn’t appear to be sick and had plenty of energy. If he’d been going through treatment, they reasoned, he’d show physical signs of being ill. An investigation showed area hospitals never treated the boy for cancer.
According to police, Weddle forged a “certificate for return to work or school” from a doctor’s office and created a phony document from Riley Hospital for Children at IU Health that allowed him to play sports.
According to court documents obtained by Fox 59, Weddle admitted she made up the story. He went to the doctor for asthma; an x-ray showed he had a “spot on his lungs.” Court documents said Weddle “told the people on the baseball and wrestling team about the spot and (said) it may be cancer.”
Even after a doctor told her it wasn’t cancer, Weddle stuck to her story.
“Weddle said after telling the people about her son having cancer they all began to help her financially and she kept up the ruse and accepted the money,” court documents said.
Investigators said Weddle led her son to believe he had cancer and also fooled family members and her other children.