Probation, jail time for mom who faked son's cancer

AURORA – The mom who admitted to faking her 6-year-old son's cancer was sentenced to five years probation and 90 days in jail Tuesday in Arapahoe County.

Sandy Nguyen pleaded guilty to defrauding her son's school and the community of thousands of dollars while raising money for her supposedly sick child.

A judge ruled that her 90-day jail sentence will be spent in work release, meaning that she will sleep in jail but will work during the day. She will start her 90-day work release in two weeks.

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Nguyen faced charges of theft and criminal impersonation. The 29-year-old's attorney previously asked the judge for probation and community service.

Nguyen's defense lawyer previously told the court "none of this happened for personal gain. Every single penny she collected was recovered in her home. She, reportedly, didn't know what to do with it.

The defense attorney said Nguyen felt locked into this "misunderstanding" that people believed her son had cancer.

He confirmed what 9NEWS had previously reported: that Nguyen was pregnant at the time of the arrest. The baby was taken from Nguyen in light of the criminal case. It is unknown at this time whether Nguyen will get her children back. There is still a hearing to determine that.

The investigation into Nguyen's story started after she was overheard talking about the boy's illness at work.

According to court documents, Nguyen admitted to faking her son's illness to investigators. Nguyen told police she led people to believe her son had leukemia and told the little boy he was sick, but didn't think he was old enough to understand what was going on. Nguyen also told investigators "she did not ask for any help," but didn't turn it away either.

Investigators say Nguyen faked her son's leukemia for over a year, accepting community donations for his treatment.

Court records show the boy's school - Rolling Hills Elementary School - raised money to help him with treatment. The principal of the school told investigators that 100 percent of the students, more than 600 of them , volunteered to help. Some kids gave up their allowance money and asked grandparents for help.

Her arrest affidavit says investigators found $23,000 in cash in her closet. Court records say the family took a trip to Disneyland in October 2013 using raised money.

Court records show Nguyen used Facebook to relay her son's condition, talking about his procedures, including the need for bone-marrow treatment and receiving care at Children's Hospital of Denver.

A doctor at Children's Hospital of Denver's oncology unit overheard the conversation, according to court records, and having been familiar with all the patients, didn't know Nguyen's son.

After checking with Children's Hospital of Denver records, investigators found out the first grader wasn't treated for cancer at the hospital, but other minor illnesses like moderate asthma.

Court records say Nguyen had posted her son was first diagnosed with cancer on April 2, 2012, had received 317 days of chemotherapy, seven days of radiation and various other procedures.

A 5K fundraising run was planned for his medical bills as late as Oct. 6, 2013.

According to court documents, the little boy told investigators he believed he had cancer and was going to die. He got chemotherapy at night while sleeping. His mom shaved his head every morning before school.

Investigators list two other children in the home, an 8-year-old and a 1-year-old.

(KUSA-TV © 2014 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)


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