Former Nurse Gets 2 Years in Prison for Lying About Cancer to Get Thousands Out of Friends, Colleagues

Tawni Fuller was working as a nurse anesthetist at Ohio State University’s Medical Center when in 2016, she began telling colleagues she had terminal lung cancer.
Delaware County Prosecutor's Office

An Ohio nurse was sentenced to two years in prison for stealing thousands from friends and coworkers who believed her lies about having cancer, authorities said.

Tawni Fuller was working as a nurse anesthetist at Ohio State University’s Medical Center when in 2016, she began telling colleagues she had terminal lung cancer, prosecutors said. 

Fuller, 34, was given cash and gift cards by friends and acquaintances at work, some of whom even offered to cover shifts at work as she supposedly battled cancer, WSYX-TV reported. She also was able to take thousands of dollars’ worth of sick pay, officials said. 

To fully execute her scam, Fuller apparently dressed the part as well. 

"She wore a cancer cap to make it look like she didn't have hair. She wore Band-Aids on her neck to make it look like she had a port,” Delaware County Prosecutor Carol O'Brien had previously said in court. 

Toward the end of 2016, Fuller reportedly sent text messages announcing her “miraculous” recovery, the Columbus Dispatch reported. Her story “boggled” doctors, and from there it began to unravel. 

"What is the most heartbreaking is the damage she has done to victims of cancer,” O'Brien said at Fuller’s indictment. 

Fuller pleaded guilty to telecommunications fraud, theft and forgery. She was sentenced on Monday to two years in prison, and has been ordered to pay $45,469.68 in restitution to Ohio State Medical Center and $2,304.66 in restitution to the numerous victims. Fuller also was ordered to stay off of the university’s premises and have no contact with any of the victims, 10TV reported

At Fuller’s sentencing hearing, more than 20 victims testified about her crimes’ impacts on their lives. 

“I spent hours crying about Tawni’s case and how I couldn’t make it better,” Carrie Malfatto, a friend who said she provided rides to Fuller, who wore a headscarf and walked slowly with a cane. “This person’s moral compass is broken.”

Fuller had previously blamed her actions on depression. 

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