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Hospice nurse accused of faking cancer for money

11:25 PM, Jan 17, 2012   |    comments
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A grand jury indictment says 35-year-old Jennifer Stover worked for Exempla Healthcare at the Collier Hospice in Wheat Ridge when police say she fraudulently accepted the money.

Stover is accused of telling co-workers over the past few years that she had uterine cancer and was undergoing experimental treatments.

The Jefferson County District Attorney's office says this lie went on for years, beginning in 2008.

Rosemary Swingle was one of Stover's colleagues who watched her care for dying patients at Collier Hospice.

When Stover told Swingle and others she was fighting for her own life, 16 people opened their wallets without thinking twice.

"Our hearts went out to her. She went to the doctor and she was having some issues. She didn't want to talk about it much. The next thing I know is that she has cancer," Swingle said.

A Jefferson County indictment says Stover told coworkers she had uterine cancer and needed to have experimental treatment.

"And I believed her, you know? I believed her and I wanted to help her," Swingle said.

Swingle says one of her friends even dipped into her life savings to help Stover, giving her more than $12,000.

"She has a heart of gold. She didn't even question it. Didn't even question it. Believed her," Swingle said.

"Jennifer Stover was an employee here and she voluntarily resigned in June of 2010 when we requested verification for her request of medical leave of absence. She did not provide it and she instead resigned," said Wendy Forbes, Director of Communications for Collier Hospice.

Court records reviewed by 9NEWS show Stover had trouble paying back payday loans and also went through a divorce, but had no criminal record prior to her arrest and indictment earlier this month by a grand jury on theft of $20,000 or more and charitable fraud.

She turned herself in on Tuesday and later posted a $5,000 bond.

Stover is due in court later this month.

The district attorney for Jefferson County, Scott Storey, says investigators don't know where the money went. He says creative fraud schemes like this keep popping up in a bad economy.

"We have seen more and more. People are not going to be so willing to give because of the fact that they've become victims of crime," Storey said.

Another Jefferson County woman, Ann Crall, faked cancer for six years and collected $60,000 in donations.

The parents and grandmother of a 7-year-old Ohio girl shaved her head and gave her sleeping pills so it would look like she had leukemia. They collected $10,000.

Julie Jane Martin, of Portland, Ore., had to pay a Colorado foundation more than $10,000 because she lied about having cancer.

Storey says the victims go beyond those who lose money.

"You have collateral damage. And the collateral damage is that people no longer will give," Storey said.

9NEWS has learned Stover now works on an as-needed basis for Hospice of Saint John in Lakewood, filling-in for nurses who are sick or on vacation.

CEO Steven Cooper says Stover's background was thoroughly checked before they hired her.

"We're launching an immediate investigation. We have to. I feel so sad that something like this would happen in our industry. 99.9 percent of all the people who work in our industry are really loving and caring people. The majority of our admissions are cancer patients and our staff has a particular empathy for them," Cooper said.

9NEWS tried finding Stover at her house in Wheat Ridge, but a woman outside said she had no comment before telling us to leave.

"I'm just glad that Jennifer was stopped," Swingle said.

Swingle says she and other hospice workers won't stop caring, but they will be more careful.

"We will still give. But we'll just question things a little further," Swingle said.

(KUSA-TV © 2012 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)

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