To secure herself a late-term abortion, Arizona woman Chalice Zeitner pretended to have cancer and ultimately defrauded the government into paying for the procedure.
For faking cancer and defrauding the state of Arizona, Zeitner, 30, was convicted by a jury Monday on a slew of charges related to the scheme, the New York Daily News reported.
The condition she stood accused of faking was sarcoma, which attacks the body’s bones and connective tissues and kills 3,900 people every year. Zeitner used a fake diagnosis of the disease to convince her doctor that her life was in danger and her pregnancy should be terminated.
She was 22 weeks along at the time of the abortion. Before she was convicted, her attorney claimed that she wasn’t faking and truly believed she was sick.
Back in 2010, she went to her obstetrician with a sad story, according to AZ Family: she was amid chemotherapy and radiation for cancer and the treatments had exposed her baby to radiation. A specialist declared the fetus healthy, but she then forged a letter from another doctor. This letter stated that an abortion was the only way to save her life.
Before the procedure, the woman claimed that she was due for surgery at a Boston hospital to remove Stage IV tumors from her stomach and lower spine. This physician, named by Zeitner as her cancer doctor, had never met or treated her.
Unaware she was faking, Phoenix doctors performed the abortion in April 2010. At the time, the woman was enrolled in the state’s Medicaid system and manipulated laws that permit the coverage of abortions in limited cases, specifically when the mother’s life is in danger.
Prosecutors said that when the woman initially applied for Medicaid, she never disclosed a cancer diagnosis. That only came up when she sought to terminate her pregnancy. The surgery ultimately cost taxpayers $6,000.
Chalice was accused of forging medical documents, which hid the fact that she was perfectly healthy. These documents allowed her to receive the taxpayer-funded procedure, Arizona Republic added.
However, a year later the woman was pregnant again, and this time, she chose to carry the child to term. She turned to the same obstetrician who believed she sick the year before. He delivered the baby via c-section and immediately spotted clues that his patient had never been sick at all: no signs of tumors or the surgeries she allegedly had to remove them.
That doctor exposed the scheme, which eventually led to her being convicted, but Chalice wasn’t charged until last May.
Sheriff’s deputies and FBI agents found her in Columbia County, Georgia, where she was living under the alias Al Serkez. She was extradited back to Arizona to face the charges five years after faking cancer. She was charged with theft, fraud, forgery, and identity theft and initially pleaded not guilty. A jury convicted her on all counts Monday.
Even though she’s been convicted, it’s still not over. She faces another phase of the trial, the aggravation phase, which begins Monday. Prosecutors have listed a number of aggravating factors related to her crimes that they believe should be taken into account during sentencing. These include committing a felony while on probation from a prior offense and misrepresenting herself and her situation for monetary gain.
However, faking a terminal illness wasn’t this woman’s only alleged crime. Next month, she goes on trial to face charges of defrauding military veterans’ charities of tens of thousands of dollars. She allegedly sold $7,700 in tickets for a fake gala and pocketed the money and used the personal info of a charity leader and two family members to open credit card accounts. She faces charges of fraudulent schemes, identity theft, and money laundering.
[Image via Brian A Jackson/Shutterstock]