Former beauty queen Brandi Lee Weaver-Gates gets prison for faking cancer
By Pilar Melendez
(CNN) — When former Miss Pennsylvania U.S. International told her friends and family she had leukemia in March 2013, they did everything they could to help.
They hosted fundraisers in her honor, drove her to Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore for treatment, and even had her carried across the finish line of a race.
But friends and family of Brandi Lee Weaver-Gates, 24, started to get suspicious when she insisted on attending her chemotherapy treatments alone and her hair grew back after she shaved her head.
It was only after contacting the hospitals where she claimed to seek treatment did her friends and family learned there was no record of Gates being a patient or having cancer.
Weaver-Gates was sentenced to two to four years in prison and five years of probation Tuesday after pleading guilty to multiple charges of theft by deception and receiving stolen property, according to court documents.
Weaver-Gates admitted in court to raising over $30,000 and defrauding 150 people in her scheme, many of whom had cancer themselves.
“This was the ultimate betrayal of our giving community and those who actually battle cancer and their loved ones,” District Attorney Stacy Parks Miller said in a news release. “She actually stole that time and money from giving people who were actually suffering from cancer, some of whom lived near her and have since passed.”
Weaver-Gates, who was initially charged last August, in court acknowledged her fraud and apologized to her victims.
“She pledged to pay everyone back and promised she had a plan and wanted to be held accountable,” Parks Miller said.
After her arrest, Miss Pennsylvania U.S. International revoked her title and demanded Weaver-Gates return her crown and sash.
“When you deceive the public and take people’s money that is under the pretense of fraud, we will not tolerate those actions,” said a statement from the pageant organizers Butler’s Beauties in August.
CNN reached out to Weaver-Gates’ lawyer, Deborah Lux, but did not receive an immediate response.
CNN’s Ed Payne and Jennifer Moore contributed to this report.