Hillary McLellan, a 25-year-old Maine woman accused of lying about cancer, has pleaded not guilty to theft after she was accused of scamming friends and out of money by pretending to be ill.
McLellan, 25, of Sebago, Maine, was indicted in May on a felony theft charge after authorities said she took $10,500 that had been raised to pay for her cancer-related expenses.
However, despite the fact that she claimed to be undergoing chemotherapy, McLellan’s friends noticed that her hair was not falling out, causing them to become suspicious.
According to Portland Unified Criminal Court court records, McLellan was indicted on May 5 on a charge of theft by deception of $10,500 from 16 businesses and individuals.
Friends said that McLellan told them of her breast cancer diagnosis in October 2015 and that she was receiving treatments three times a week. By February 2016, she said the cancer was in remission. But in the summer of 2016, McLellan told friends that the cancer had returned “with a vengeance” and spread to her lymph nodes and her blood, said Carrye Castleman-Ross, who owns the Bridgton bar, in an interview in May.
Friends and customers of the business arranged in October 2016 to throw McLellan a fundraiser party, where they raised about $17,000 – $10,500 in checks and the rest in cash, which was deposited into a joint account that Castleman-Ross had set up for that purpose. The alleged deception was revealed when Castleman-Ross became suspicious that McLellan still looked so healthy after supposedly receiving intensive cancer treatments and called McLellan’s father, who knew nothing of any cancer diagnosis.
Castleman-Ross, along with a mediator and other friends, confronted McLellan in January 2017 about the deception, and after a lengthy discussion, McLellan admitted she did not have the disease. The intervention was captured on video, and part of it was played for a reporter. On the tape, Castleman-Ross says she has not seen any evidence of McLellan’s illness or treatment, and that an investigation is underway.
McLellan began to claim she had breast cancer in October 2015, but by February 2016, she was telling friends that it was in remission. But by the summer of 2016, she claimed it had returned and spread to her blood and lymph nodes. Then, in October 2016, Castleman-Ross and McLellan’s other friends organized a benefit event for her which raised $17,000.
If convicted, McLellan faces up to ten years in prison, a $10,000 fine, or both. She is currently free on $1,060 bail.