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Woman gets 8 years in cancer hoax

Oct. 6, 2009 at 2:12 PM

DELAWARE, Ohio, Oct. 6 (UPI) -- An Ohio woman must spend eight years behind bars for bilking contributions from friends and relatives in a cancer hoax, a judge ruled.

Delaware County, Ohio, Common Pleas Court Judge W. Duncan Whitney Tuesday ordered the sentence for Melanie Chen, 30, and demanded that she pay more than $792,000 in restitution to 13 victims, The Columbus Dispatch reported.

Chen pleaded guilty in August to one count of theft, reportedly admitting that she spent the money on "things that didn't matter." She and her husband Phylip had each been indicted on charges of theft and receiving stolen property.

The Dispatch said the pair tricked friends and relatives into believing that Phylip Chen was suffering from cancer and needed to pay his "medical bills." The scheme lasted for three years but in 2008 a relative notified authorities.

Phylip Chen has since been indicted on four counts of filing incomplete, false and fraudulent tax returns. His trial has been rescheduled to begin Oct. 27, the newspaper reported.

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