BRIDGTON, Maine (NEWS CENTER) — A woman from Sebago, accused of deceiving people into giving her thousands of dollars, has been indicted by a Cumberland County Grand Jury.
Twenty-five-year-old Hillary McLellan’s friends and employer say she told them she had cancer. The community rallied around her, raising money to help her out. Now she stands charged with theft by deception.
According to the indictment, investigators say the thefts occurred between October and January, when people in the Bridgton area donated money to McLellan, believing she was battling cancer.
Suspicions surrounding McLellan’s story first surfaced in January when her employer, The Depot Street Tap House posted on Facebook "… we were being duped by our employee who we all thought had been fighting cancer for over a year." Bridgton police launched an investigation which resulted in the indictment and a charge of theft by deception.
Ed Enos donated $1,000 to help McClellan out.
“It is disturbing, on multiple different levels, that somebody would concoct this story and then take advantage of the community”, he said.
Enos was one of 16 individuals and businesses that donated a total of $10,000 to McLellan, all believing she was battling cancer. The Bridgton House of Pizza, The Pre-School Room and 302 West Smokehouse were among the businesses that gave her money. A woman, who did not want her identity revealed, told us she donated $500 on behalf of her business.
"Nobody was any wiser at all, why would you not believe that. Who goes around saying they have cancer when they don’t have cancer. It doesn’t even enter your mind," she said.
She says what really bothers her is that she knows people who do have cancer, who could use a hand.
"My girlfriend just finished radiation a week ago. I just want to choke Hillary. People really do have cancer and she would be that uncaring," she said.
Cancer has also touched Ed Enos’ life.
"I think we all know somebody who has been touched. I lost my sister in law, at 34-years-old, to breast cancer. So that kind of played into why I jumped in, to help a little bit," he said.
Enos now fears people will shy away from donating to good causes because of the bad taste this has left behind in the community.
An indictment is not a finding of guilt, it simply means a grand jury has determined there is enough evidence in the case to warrant charges being filed. When we reached out to McLellan back in February she told us there is another side to the story, but her lawyer advised her not to say anything. We reached out after the indictment and have not heard back from her. McLellan will have her day in court in the coming weeks.