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Woman who lied about having breast cancer ordered to repay nearly $130,000 in donations

A woman was sentenced to nearly six months in jail Thursday after she lied about having breast cancer and bilked donors out of thousands of dollars for treatments she never received, prosecutors said.

Lacy Johnson, who pleaded no contest in January to grand theft, was ordered to repay the nearly $130,000 she took from donors, according to the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office.

After completing her jail sentence, the 37-year-old Colorado resident was ordered to serve five years’ probation and 30 days of community labor, according to Deputy Dist. Atty. David Richman, who prosecuted the case.

Authorities say that between 2010 and 2013, Johnson scammed more than 50 people.

One of those donors was Britanny Lawless.

Lawless told KNBC-TV that Johnson claimed to be dying from Stage 4 breast cancer, which means the disease has metastasized and spread through the bloodstream.

Lawless and her husband collected $35,000 in donations that they thought would be used to help Johnson pay for her treatments, the TV station reported.

The scam went on for years until several donors discovered that Johnson had created an elaborate web of lies and they began communicating with one another.

They established a website about Johnson’s various scams, and a Facebook group “Bring Lacy Elizabeth Johnson to Justice” with updates on her criminal court proceedings.

When Daniel Gurule met Johnson through a personal ad on Craigslist in October 2011, he knew her as Lacy McAllister. The pair hit it off and dated for about six months.

Two months after their relationship started, he said, Johnson revealed she spent her savings on bills. Johnson told him that her father had Stage 4 colon cancer and she needed $15,000 to help pay for bills and a medical treatment available only overseas, Gurule said.

Gurule didn’t have the whole amount, so he gave her $1,200 to help her father.

But Gurule said he had an inkling things weren’t as they seemed.

“As this continued to go on, her story started to fall apart,” the 31-year-old Thousand Oaks resident told The Times.

When Gurule did an Internet search of her name and birth date, his worst fears were confirmed. The woman he was dating wasn’t Lacy McAllister. She was Lacy Johnson.

As he continued to scour the Web, he came across the website detailing all of Johnson’s scams and discovered there were other victims. Gurule said he was suspicious of the site, so he reached out to its administrator and was soon connected with other victims.

Gurule later explained his story to police investigators. He hired a private investigator to follow her, all the while pretending everything was normal between them.

“I never called her out and told her the truth,” he said.

Gurule said Johnson was a gambler. She was personable, he said, and good at making people feel sorry for her.

Gurule had hoped for a stiffer punishment because he said, “I don’t think she is remorseful in the least bit.”

veronica.rocha@latimes.com

Twitter: VeronicaRochaLA


UPDATES:

3:25 p.m.: This article was updated with comments from Daniel Gurule.

This article was originally published at 9:50 a.m.

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