ANGOLA — A northeastern Indiana woman was sentenced to 60 days in jail for pretending to have cancer and accepting thousands of dollars in donations from a community benefit organized to help her.
A Steuben County judge during a Monday court hearing also ordered April Landis to pay nearly $4,400 in restitution and complete 200 hours of community service, The Herald Republican reported. The 27-year-old Angola woman pleaded guilty in August to a felony theft charge as part of an agreement under which prosecutors dropped three other theft counts.
While Landis had no previous criminal record, Superior Court Judge William Fee said he considered Landis' actions an attack on "the naturally generous nature of Steuben County residents."
Authorities said Landis shaved her head to make it appear she had undergone chemotherapy and that a Facebook page Prayers for April was established for her.
Landis didn't speak during her sentencing hearing.
Nancy Schort, who has stage 4 melanoma, testified about giving Landis $1,000 from an advance she received on her life insurance. Schort said Landis spoke to her at the benefit event in March about beating cancer, "while all along you knew that I was going to die and you were going to live."
"I could only dream that I could get the same rights you are given as a criminal," Schort said. "... Shame on you and shame on your family, who has harassed me through this whole process."
Candy Oliver, executive director of the Steuben County Cancer Association, reported Landis to police after noticing she had body hair inconsistent with hair loss from chemotherapy.
Oliver said organize fundraising events for cancer victims is more difficult because some people now have doubts about their authenticity.