MASON CITY, Iowa – An Iowa woman who pleaded guilty to defrauding area charities by pretending to have cancer received a suspended sentence on Monday.
Jennifer Hope Mikesell, 44, of Northwood, pleaded guilty in a Worth County court to a felony charge of ongoing criminal conduct, the Globe Gazette of Mason City reported. As part of a plea agreement, six aggravated misdemeanor charges of forgery and a charge of felony second-degree theft were dismissed, the newspaper reported.
Mikesell was given a suspended sentence of up to 25 years in prison, along with five years of probation, according to court records. She was also ordered to pay restitution to those she defrauded and was ordered to continue to seek treatment by a mental health professional.
Mikesell was arrested in December 2019. She was accused of pretending to have cancer and reaching out to area charities and individuals for donations of money, goods and services, The Associated Press reported. She purportedly forged doctors’ notes from providers at Mayo Clinic, where she claimed to be receiving care, according to court documents.
Mikesell also was accused of creating fake email addresses, which she used to represent herself as an employee at the Mayo Clinic to solicit charities, the Globe Gazette reported.
Mikesell fraudulently obtained contributions from Meal Train and GoFundMe and received a renovated bedroom from My Happy Haven, a Mason City-based organization that provides comfortable recuperation spaces in the homes of those diagnosed with life-altering illnesses. the newspaper reported.
Search warrants executed on the Mayo Clinic’s records revealed that providers had never diagnosed Mikesell with cancer and had never performed any treatments or surgeries, according to the AP.
Mikesell has previous convictions for similar charges, according to court records.
Mikesell, whose last name was Nilges in 2015, was charged in Mitchell County with ongoing criminal conduct and second-degree theft for her role in stealing $1,400 from a Girl Scout troop bank account, according to the Globe Gazette. She later pleaded guilty to a reduced charge and spent 10 days in jail. She also was fined $625, according to court records.
In a 2003 case in Florida, Mikesell pleaded no contest to identity theft and forgery charges, the Globe Gazette reported. She received three years of probation and was ordered t to pay more than $2,000 in restitution and fines.
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