A Pennsylvania beauty queen has been jailed on charges she faked having leukemia to benefit from fundraisers, and will be stripped of her title.
Online court records show 23-year-old Brandi Lee Weaver-Gates of State College was arraigned Tuesday on charges of theft by deception and receiving stolen property. State police say an April bingo benefit raised $14,000 for the Miss Pennsylvania U.S. International pageant winner. Troopers are asking the public to come forward if they have donated money to Weaver-Gates.
“There’s many people out there that have family friends, neighbours that are affected with some sort of cancer. Unfortunately you have people out there who take advantage of that,” Pennsylvania State Trooper Thomas Stock told NBC affiliate WJAC.
Police said the investigation into Weaver-Gates found many inconsistencies, including how the beauty queen didn’t know the names of her doctors. They also found that she was not registered as a patient at any of the hospitals from which she claimed she was receiving treatment.
The elaborate lie even deceived Weaver-Gates’ family, as they would take her to the hospital for treatments and wait for her in the waiting room for several hours.
The backlash on Weaver-Gates’ Facebook page has been swift and harsh. Commenters have called her a “con artist” and “despicable” for her alleged plot.
Butler’s Beauties, the company that sponsors the pageant, said in a Facebook page statement that they were also “led to believe that she was dealing with this horrible disease” and are making her return her crown and sash.
Records don’t list an attorney for Weaver-Gates, who faces a preliminary hearing Aug. 19.
– With files from the Associated Press