An Iowa mom is accused of making up her toddler's brain cancer diagnosis before raising $40,000 on his behalf.
Monika Burgett, 39, allegedly convinced doctors at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital that she was a doctor while they cared for her 3-year-old son, according to the Hamilton County Prosecutor’s office.
At Burgett’s pre-trial hearing Tuesday, Dr. Robert Shapiro testified that Burgett attempted to mislead doctors at the hospital about her son’s diagnosis, 11Alive reported. She reportedly claimed he had a brain tumor.
She then at some point became a part of her son’s “health care team," reports said.
Burgett’s defense attorney, M.J. Hugan, admitted in court that, “At some point, she adopted the idea that she was a physician,” according to The Associated Press.
Doctors eventually suspected that Burgett was lying about the boy’s symptoms and reported suspected child abuse to Hamilton County Job and Family Services, reports said.
Burgett also started a GoFundMe for her son.
The mom allegedly had her son’s eyebrows and head shaved for photos she uploaded to the site where people donated thousands of dollars, assistant prosecutor Anne Flanagan said.
Burgett’s assistant defense attorney, Lisa Rabanus, told People magazine that the 3-year-old has a genetic condition, Neurofibromatosis, that can lead to non-malignant brain tumors and that he’d undergone several treatments in Texas.
The boy did reportedly have a small tumor in his mouth, but it was non-cancerous, reports said.
“We’re kinda at a loss as to why she was charged in the first place,” Rabanus said. “You can say this mom lied to us, this mom exaggerated things — but at the end of the day, you wrote the prescriptions, you ordered the tests.”
GoFundMe issued a statement saying they will issue refunds to people who gave money to Burgett if it turns out she misused the fundraising campaign, TIME reported.
Burgett is charged with two counts of endangering children, one count of felonious assault and one charge of telecommunications fraud.
The boy, who is now 5 years old, was removed from Burgett's custody last year. He lives with his father, reports said.