A Pennsylvania beauty queen has been stripped of her title and jailed on charges that she faked having leukemia to raise thousands of dollars from fundraisers.
Online court records show 23-year-old Brandi Lee Weaver-Gates, of State College, was arraigned Tuesday on charges of theft by deception and receiving stolen property.
State police say an April bingo benefit raised $14,000 for the 2015 Miss Pennsylvania U.S. International pageant winner.
“It was amazing. I didn't know half of the people there. It really did surprise me,” Weaver-Gates told the Centre County Gazette at the time. “It speaks to how great our community is. They wanted to come and support someone who is going through a hard time in their life.”
But now troopers are asking the public to come forward if they have donated money to Weaver-Gates.
Pennsylvania State Police said they began investigating Weaver-Gates after receiving an anonymous letter stating that she was “faking” cancer.
The department said in a statement that Weaver-Gates was allegedly diagnosed with Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia in March 2013, and since then, many fundraisers have been held to benefit her.
Weaver-Gates told people that she was receiving treatment at various facilities and produced an apparent medical bill from Johns Hopkins, police say. But the bill was found to be fake and none of the facilities recalled giving her treatment, a police investigation revealed.
"I'm doing OK. I'm still going through treatment. I've had two treatments so far. I have four more to go,” Weaver-Gates told the Centre County Gazette in May.
Butler's Beauties, the company that sponsors the pageant, said in a Facebook page statement that they were also "led to believe that she was dealing with this horrible disease" and are making her return her crown and sash.
“When you deceive the public and take people’s money that is under the pretense of fraud, we will not tolerate those actions,” the statement read. “Our hearts go out to those affected by cancer and to those who were taken advantage of by Miss Weaver-Gates.”
Records don't list an attorney for Weaver-Gates, who faces a preliminary hearing Aug. 19.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.