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Texas Woman Fakes Breast Cancer, Uses Donations for Implants Instead of Treatment, Say Police

(CBS)
WACO, Texas (KWTX/CBS) As fakes go, a Texas woman appears guilty of a double-breasted outrage.

And that might be the nicest thing you can say about Trista Joy Lathern, 24, who's charged with taking thousands of dollars raised to treat her for breast cancer, and spending the money on breast implants instead.

But wait, there's more. Lathern never had breast cancer in the first place.

Still, she allegedly played the hoax to the max. The McLennan County Sheriff's Office says Lathern even shaved her head, and then held a fundraiser for herself that was attended by dozens of friends and neighbors, and raised over $10,000 for the treatment.

Lathern was arrested Wednesday on a warrant charging "theft by deception over $1,500, but under $20,000."

Investigators have identified at least two-dozen individuals and businesses that donated money or merchandise for the benefit and estimate that hundreds of people probably attended, including two sheriff's deputies.

They're asking residents who donated to or attended the benefit to call the sheriff's office.

Lathern was being booked into the McLennan County Jail Wednesday afternoon.

Her bond was set at $7,500.

The McLennan County Sheriff's Office began investigating after an attorney who represents a local plastic surgeon told a detective that Lathern had consulted with the doctor about breast augmentation, but never mentioned her breast cancer, according to a police affidavit.

VIDEO COURTESY OF CBS AFFILIATE KWTX

The surgeon told the attorney he was concerned that the $3,509 in cash she had given him as a down payment was "stolen money," according to the affidavit.

Medical records showed that an ultrasound performed in February at Scott & White Hospital had detected a small mass in Lathern's left breast, but the mass was removed and was found to be benign, the affidavit said.

Lathern later confirmed to the investigator that the mass was benign and said "she never had breast cancer nor was she receiving any chemotherapy," according to the affidavit.

"Trista said she and her husband had been (having) marital problems and she thought telling him she had cancer would bring them closer together," the affidavit said. It goes on,"Trista confesses that she gave $3,500 to a local plastic surgeon for an augmentation and later had a bilateral breast augmentation performed in Austin, Texas, costing approximately $6,800."

"Trista said after the fundraiser she tried to bring attention to herself by having a breast augmentation performed hoping it would help mend her marriage."

Lathern's husband told investigators he didn't know she didn't have cancer until the day she spoke with the detective, the affidavit said.

The August 16 benefit for Lathern included performances by four bands, a raffle, a silent auction and a bake sale, the affidavit stated.

  • Ryan Smith

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