A South Jersey woman who told people she was dying of bladder cancer to scam people to pay for her last wish - her wedding - pleaded guilty today to theft by deception.
Lori E. Stilley, 41, admitted today it was all a con, said Joel Bewely, spokesman for the Burlington County Prosecutor's office.
It began in early 2011 when Stilley broke tragic news to her friends and family: she was sick with Stage 3 cancer and was about to undergo radiation and chemotherapy. According to her sister, she told her two young children she was "going to become an angel."
The Delran resident said she didn't have health insurance and could not cover the cost of the treatments
So her friends and family rallied to help. They held fundraising banquets, sold T-shirts, and held raffles that raised almost $10,000. Stilley then published a $14.99 e-book, "I'Mpossible: How A Facebook Group Loved Me Through Bladder Cancer," and sold 200 copies. People volunteered to cook and deliver meals to her house. When she said her dying wish was to marry her boyfriend, the community planned, and paid for, her wedding.
Suspicions grew after she claimed on Facebook she was feeling better. Though she was supposed to be going into hospice, a miracle was coming, Stilley said.
Miraculously, her sister took those suspicions to police.
At her plea hearing today, Stilley admitted that she never had cancer of any sort, Bewely said.
Under the terms of her plea agreement, Stilley must serve 4 years of probation, pay restitution, undergo a psychiatric evaluation and work 100 hours of community service.
Victims of Stilley who want to pursue restitution should contact the Prosecutor's Office at (609) 265-5035.