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(Updated) N. Baltimore woman pleads guilty in cancer fraud scheme PDF Print E-mail
Written by JORDAN CRAVENS/Sentinel Staff Writer   
Wednesday, 22 May 2013 11:09
Prosecutor Thomas Matuszak, right, in court while Kimberlie Gustwiller makes a plea. (Photo: J.D. Pooley/Sentinel-Tribune)
Kimberlie Gustwiller told investigators her fraudulent cancer scheme started out as a “little white lie.” But in the end, she bilked North Baltimore and McComb community members and business owners out of at least $8,000.
Gustwiller, 39, formerly of North Baltimore and now of Findlay, pleaded guilty Wednesday to theft from an elderly person, a third-degree felony.
She faces a maximum penalty of three years in prison when she is sentenced July 19 by Wood County Common Pleas Judge Alan Mayberry. Restitution will also be calculated at the hearing.
North Baltimore police Chief Allan Baer, who was the chief investigator for the case, said Gustwiller stole more than $8,000 in September from individuals and businesses under the deception that she had stage four, Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma and was undergoing chemotherapy. At least eight of the victims were elderly.
“This is one step closer to this town healing and feeling a sense of justice,” Baer said after the plea hearing.
Roughly two weeks ago, Gustwiller turned down a plea deal and was set to go on trial in July.
Thomas Matuszak, an assistant Wood County prosecutor, said as part of the plea agreement, both he and defense attorney Costa Krinas reserve the right to argue at sentencing. However, Matuszak has said he will push for prison and was unwilling to lower the charge.
Matuszak said the scheme began when Gustwiller told a cousin she had cancer. From there, the cousin mentioned it to others, and soon, both North Baltimore and McComb rallied around her.
Salons held fundraisers, individuals donated money and Gustwiller even shaved her head and dyed a section of her hair pink for the “cause.”
Later on, he said, some people became suspicious as Gustwiller was not exhibiting any symptoms typically associated with chemotherapy.
They asked Gustwiller if they could send fruit baskets to her oncologist’s office or buy her gas cards to get to her treatments.
“In response, Ms. Gustwiller became evasive,” he said.
Their suspicion growing, community members brought it to Baer’s attention. Baer obtained Gustwiller’s medical records from her doctor.
Nowhere, in the one-inch stack of records, did the file show Gustwiller had been diagnosed with cancer, Matuszak said.
Last Updated on Thursday, 23 May 2013 10:06

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