Monika Burgett, 39, has been charged with endangering a child and fraud for exaggerating her son’s medical condition and using him to raise money online.
Her son suffers from an incurable genetic illness—neurofibromatosis. The illness led to his developing a small, noncancerous tumor in his mouth. But Burgett, pretending to be a doctor, insisted the boy had cancer and was in pain, according to court documents cited by multiple media.
In 2015, she managed to convince a pediatrician at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center to prescribe the 2-year-old strong opioid painkillers, oxycodone and methadone, and deceived doctors to subject the boy to other unnecessary treatment, prosecutors said.
She also shaved the boys hair and eyebrows and posted his picture on GoFundMe page, pretending he had cancer. She raised over $40,000 between two campaigns on the page. GoFundMe promised to refund the donations if it turns out Burgett misused them.
The boy was born prematurely and suffered multiple medical complications, underwent multiple surgeries, and ultimately emerged with neurofibromatosis, a genetic illness that causes tumors to grow on the nervous system. The tumors can cause a variety of health problems, including pain, deafness, and blindness. The tumors can also turn cancerous.
In Burgett’s case, biopsy showed her son’s tumor wasn’t cancerous and medical staff at the hospital suspected she falsely reported the boy’s symptoms.
Burgett was charged in Hamilton County Court with two counts of endangering a child, one count of felonious assault, and one count of telecommunications fraud.
The boy has been placed with his father, who lives in Texas.