Thursday, September 25, 2003

Couple sentenced in faked cancer case

The Associated Press

URBANA, Ohio - A couple who admitted faking their daughter's leukemia to gain thousands of dollars in donations were sentenced to prison Wednesday.

Teresa Milbrandt will serve 61/2 years and her husband, Robert, was sentenced to four years and 11 months by Champaign County Common Pleas Court Judge Roger Wilson.

Teresa Milbrandt read a letter in court apologizing to her daughter, her family and the community.

She faced as much as 141/2 years in prison and a $35,000 fine after pleading guilty last month to felony charges of endangering children, grand theft and eight counts of theft.

Robert Milbrandt pleaded guilty to one felony count of endangering children. He also entered an Alford plea to felony theft, which means he does not admit guilt but acknowledges prosecutors have enough evidence to convict.

Police said the Milbrandts fooled 65 people and businesses into giving them money to help them treat Hannah, 7. It's estimated they collected about $31,000.

Police said Teresa Milbrandt shaved her daughter's hair, gave her sleeping pills to make it appear she was receiving chemotherapy, made her wear a protective mask and put her in counseling to prepare for death.

Robert Milbrandt said his wife handled all doctor visits and medical bills and that he believed her when she said their daughter had cancer.

County Prosecutor Nick Selvaggio said Hannah, who is now 8, has been placed in a foster home.

Messages seeking comment from defense attorney Kevin Talebi were left at his office Wednesday.

A jury earlier Wednesday cleared Teresa Milbrandt's mother, Mary Russell, of any involvement in the faked cancer scheme.

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