But authorities now say the boy never had the disease and, on Wednesday, the 38-year-old Cornwall man was arrested on child abuse and larceny charges.
"This child is growing up for four or five years thinking he had a fatal disease and he was getting worse," said J. Michael Sconyers, attorney for the boy's mother, Ericka Hollander. "I think it was despicable. She was beyond devastated. For years she was thinking he was a father acting in the best interests of the child. It was a shock."
Bradway was being held on $500,000 bond and was scheduled to be arraigned Thursday in Bantam Superior Court, prosecutor John Massameno said. He said Bradway was arrested at a local hospital, but would not say why he was hospitalized.
"It's a really shocking account of parental abuse," Massameno said. "I've never seen anything like it in my career."
Authorities say Bradway fabricated medical bills to convince his wife and her parents the child had cystic fibrosis starting in 2001 when the boy was 5. Bradway told his in-laws that his son would probably need a lung transplant and that a hospital in Canada specialized in such cases, according to his arrest affidavit.
He also allegedly kept the child on a severely restricted diet, leaving him thin, and told school officials his son could not be immunized for religious reasons. His wife said her former husband did not attend church, but used the religious exemption to avoid having a doctor detect the child did not have cystic fibrosis.
Authorities say Bradway also managed to convince a volunteer group of his son's illness. The group, Landmark Volunteers, asked him to join the board and offered a donation, according to the affidavit.
The boy frequently missed school and authorities said Bradway convinced school officials that his son needed to take medication every two hours. Cystic fibrosis affects about 30,000 people in the United States and causes thick, sticky mucus to build up in the lungs and digestive system.
Bradway's wife, who was separated from him at the time, began to questioned the diagnosis more than a year ago and asked for medical records, authorities said.
The Connecticut Department of Children and Families placed the child in state care last year. He immediately began to gain weight and thrive and now lives with his mother, according to court papers.
Bradway was convicted in 1994 of larceny and forgery for operating as an unregistered broker in Massachusetts for embezzling $167,000 from several victims, authorities said. He was sentenced to one year in prison.
His arrest affidavit details a host of lies, including claims that he attended Yale and Harvard and lost a business partner in the Sept. 11 attacks, authorities said.
Bradway's father is quoted in the affidavit as saying his son was diagnosed with bipolar disorder.
Bradway faces 35 years in prison if he is convicted.
By John Christoffersen