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Former Pageant Queen Pleads Guilty in Cancer Scam

by on June 10, 2016 3:30 PM

A Pleasant Gap woman and former pageant winner has pled guilty to charges that she faked a cancer diagnosis to take money from fundraisers held for her treatment.

Brandi Weaver-Gates, 24, on Friday pled guilty to four counts of theft by deception and four counts of receiving stolen property, both third-degree felonies. Sentencing is scheduled for July 26,and she faces up to two to four years in prison followed by five years of probation.

Weaver-Gates, who was crowned Miss Pennsylvania U.S. International last year and stripped of the title when she was charged in August 2015, was accused of faking a chronic lymphocytic leukemia diagnosis and stealing nearly $20,000 from people who donated money to fundraisers held for her treatment.

Pennsylvania State Police first began investigating her after receiving a tip from an individual who contacted Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore to make a donation to help pay for her medical bills and was told Weaver-Gates was not a patient there.

Weaver-Gates said she had received treatment at Geisinger Medical Center, UPMC Altoona and Johns Hopkins. Police contacted those hospitals and found she had not been a patient at them. Four fundraisers were held locally for her, including a "Bingo for Brandi" that raised $14,000 and for which organizers wrote her checks as she provided them with medical bills, which investigators found to be fake.

People close to her became suspicious when she insisted she go to treatments alone and could not name her physicians, and when she would shave her head but the hair would grow back.

Police alleged she had carried out the scheme for about two years and that she had acted alone. She maintained her own bank account for the donations and had her sister drive her to Baltimore for treatment.

After her arrest Weaver-Gates apologized through a statement from her public defender and promised to pay back the money.


Geoff Rushton is managing editor for Contact him at [email protected] or find him on Twitter at @geoffrushton.
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