Mom accused of faking 5-year-old son's cancer - Fox29 WFLX TV, West Palm Beach, Florida-

Mom accused of faking 5-year-old son's cancer

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WETUMPKA, AL (WSFA) -

A Wetumpka woman charged with falsely claiming her 5-year-old son had terminal cancer and collecting donations on his behalf, went before an Elmore County Judge Thursday. The 21-year-old asked for youthful offender status, but lost.

"In court today, she said it was a bad mistake that spiraled out of control," said Elmore County District Attorney Randall Houston says.

Houston says, he's never worked a case quite like this one.

"What mother would use her child as the bait for a fraud?" he added.

Stephanie Jones is charged with theft by deception. Authorities say she claimed her 5-year-old son Brandon had terminal cancer with one dying wish-- to go to Disneyworld. The community rallied behind her, raising enough money to send them on that trip in addition to other monetary donations.  The problem is, her son never had cancer.

Joseph Herrod, CEO, Pri Med Physicians, Inc., said, "When a woman came to us saying her son had a problem, we wanted to build a support system around for her."

Pri Med in Wetumpka jump-started the community response, holding fundraisers in the child's name.

"We want to be here for the community and when someone has broken that line of trust within the community, we were very disappointed," Herrod said.

In fact, several local businesses, including Hardee's, hosted similar fundraisers. Even Mayor Jerry Willis attended one.

He said, "I thought it was a legitimate case, and I got to meet the child. I had been a product myself of Children's Hospital, and I think that's the reason it touched me so deeply."

Willis says, there is good news in this story--that the child is not sick, but he says it will take the community a while to regain that trust.

"The next time something happens, are you going to be so free to step up, so willing to step up? I hope it doesn't have that effect." he said.

Jones will go through arraignment in September.  She will enter a guilty or not guilty plea at time.

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