PORTLAND, Maine (NEWS CENTER) — A woman accused of faking a cancer diagnosis and taking money collected to help her made her first court appearance Tuesday.
Twenty-five-year-old Hillary McLellan is charged with theft by deception.
Suspicions surrounding McLellan's story first surfaced in January when her employers posted on Facebook they were duped by an employee. McLellan later admitted she did not have cancer in an undercover video shot by friends and turned over to police.
McLellan had no interest in speaking with reporters after entering a plea of not guilty in a Cumberland County courtroom. The judge allowed her to remain free on the $1,000 bail she had previously posted.
Sixteen business and individuals throughout the Bridgton and Fryeburg area donated more than $10,000 to McLellan for her treatment, believing she had cancer.
"Where was this poor girl's head at? How were we so deceived and mislead by what seemed to be a wonderful young lady?" said Bob Wentworth, one of the donors.
Wentworth said he handed McLellan a $500 check inside his 302 West Smokehouse restaurant.
"And to be able to smile and to be such a good actress, and almost be teary, and to go to that length to deceive," he said.
Things came to a head when friends finally confronted her. On a video shot during the intervention, McLellan eventually admitted she did not have cancer, saying she had a lump removed from her breast, but no cancer spread.
If convicted, McLellan faces up to 10 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.