A Virginia woman has been convicted for obtaining money under false pretenses by claiming she was a cancer victim. Martha Ann Nicholas, 42, paid a $100 fine and was sentenced to two 12-month jail terms, suspended for five years, and then ordered to not engage in any charity work during the probationary period.
The Mechanicsville woman had become a familiar sight at cancer rallies and for “Cancer Sucks” T-shirts. Nicholas pleaded guilty to two counts of obtaining less than $200 in contributions under false pretenses and two misdemeanors.
Her attorney, Sam Simpson, said “I can say she thought she was ill,” and stated that Nicholas had become an anti-cancer activist under this misconception. He declined to give more details due to privacy concerns but noted that Nicholas’ entire family had desperately believed that she was terminally ill. At one point in time, Simpson said, the woman had been declared near death in an area hospital.
The investigation in Nicholas’ anti-cancer activities began in April, 2011 when Hanover County authorities received a report that she was soliciting donations based on a medical condition she did not have. According to court records, the authorities subpoenaed her medical records and discovered that some were false.
During the investigation authorities learned that Nicholas had been receiving counseling for psychological problems that may have led to her behavior.
According to Simpson, Nicholas had been recorded as saying at her cancer rally speeches that she had received tens of thousands of dollars, but no more than $1,700 had actually been collected, almost all of which was donated to the American Cancer Society. Nicholas has offered to make full restitution for any money she personally received.