NEWARK, Ohio – A central Ohio woman faked a cancer diagnosis for her 4-year-old son and shaved his head in a scheme that convinced him and others he was dying and bilked people out of donations, authorities said.
Court records allege the boy was taken to a hospital for symptoms such as seizures. He underwent at least 20 blood tests, more than 150 hours of inpatient monitoring and other testing that found no problems, according to the records.
His mother, Emily Creno of Utica, is charged with one felony count of child endangerment. A prosecutor wouldn’t discuss the possibility of more charges, The Advocate in Newark reported.
Creno, 31, didn’t comment in court Wednesday as her bond was set at $50,000, and she was ordered to have no unsupervised contact with her son, the newspaper said.
Licking County Common Pleas Court records listed no attorney for Creno, who requested an application for a court-appointed defender.
Authorities say the hoax began late last year when she and others she told about the boy’s cancer diagnosis created websites in support of him. One site provided updates on his condition, and another solicited hundreds of police and fire department patches, which the boy collected, The Columbus Dispatch reported.
Utica police were tipped to the possible fraud in May by a suburban Columbus woman who had a daughter with leukemia and thought some of the information in online updates about Creno’s son didn’t make sense, the Dispatch reported. A warrant filed against Creno in May was sealed until she was arrested this week.
Police investigated claims that 20 or more people said they donated money or goods to the family, The Advocate reported. The total value wasn’t clear.
Creno also convinced relatives, including her estranged husband and the boy’s 8-year-old sister, that the boy was dying, the Dispatch said.
The children are now in the custody of a different relative, and the boy has had no seizures or other medical problems under that arrangement, Creno’s husband, John Creno, told the Dispatch.
He said he suspects the scheme began as retaliation against him weeks after he and his wife separated.