CENTENNIAL, Colo. - A mother accused of faking her son's cancer and collecting thousands of dollars in donations appeared in an Arapahoe County courtroom Wednesday.
Sandy Nguyen faces two felony counts of both theft and charitable fraud, in addition to charges of child abuse. She allegedly convinced her boy that his cancer was real.
The sheriff's office said it launched an investigation March 7 "into an alleged scam wherein a mother was claiming that her 6-year-old son had cancer which gained her financial benefit through charitable donations."
In September 2013, the community began raising money for the boy, including fundraisers at the boy's school, Rolling Hills Elementary, and donations by students, parents, school staff and other community members, according to sheriff's officials and the Cherry Creek School District. More than $25,000 was raised and placed into an account for use by the Nguyen family.
Investigators recovered $23,000 in cash when they executed a search warrant at the Nguyen family home last week. Investigators then arrested the 28-year-old mother on investigation of theft and criminal impersonation to gain benefit, both felony charges.
Senior Deputy District Attorney Jacob Edson says the investigation is continuing, even as the case goes to court.
"We may have a very extensive amount of victims associated with this and we want to make sure that all of those folks who may be involved in this from a victim's standpoint, make sure they contact the sheriff's office," he said.
Nguyen faces between two and six years in prison if convicted of the theft charge alone. A conviction for charitable fraud would carry another one to three years and child abuse could carry one more.
She is next due in court on April 11.