STATE COLLEGE, Pa. - A Pennsylvania beauty queen has been jailed on charges she faked having leukemia to benefit from fundraisers, and will be stripped of her title.
Online court records show 23-year-old Brandi Lee Weaver-Gates, of State College, was arraigned Tuesday on charges of theft by deception and receiving stolen property. State police say an April bingo benefit raised $14,000 for the Miss Pennsylvania U.S. International pageant winner.
Troopers, who said they were alerted to the possible scam by an anonymous tipster, are asking the public to come forward if they have donated money to Weaver-Gates.
Miss Pennsylvania U.S. International posted on a statement on their website saying that they were also "led to believe that she was dealing with this horrible disease" and are instructing her return her crown and sash, once she is released.
Police told CBS affiliate WHP that Weaver-Gates perpetrated an elaborate, years-long scheme that fooled even her sister into thinking she was getting treatment for cancer. She allegedly shaved her head and took trips to hospitals, including Johns Hopkins in Baltimore - but investigators said that when they contacted the hospitals they learned Weaver-Gates had never received treatment there.
Records don't list an attorney for Weaver-Gates, who faces a preliminary hearing Aug. 19. She's being held on $150,000 bail.