Licking County Mother Sentenced In Child’s Cancer Hoax

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A Utica woman accused of scamming people out of donations by claiming her four-year-old son was dying of cancer has changed her plea.

10TV was in the courtroom Tuesday morning when 33-year-old Emily Creno answered to charges.

Creno’s son was only four years old when she began the hoax that convinced the public to donate.

Authorities allege Creno shaved her son's head in a scheme that convinced him and others he was dying and bilked people out of donations.

Creno's lawyer says it began as a lie and got out of control.

In court, the judge said he was baffled that a mother could lead her own child to believe he was dying of cancer.

Creno shared only a couple sentences in court today, saying the ruse was out of her character.  She also asked the court to give her a second chance.

Her attorney says Creno told doctors, family and friends that her son had cancer in an effort to stop her husband from leaving her.

The 33-year-old mother was sentenced to 18 months in prison for child endangerment and nine months for theft.  Those sentences will run concurrently; taking into account 239 days for time served.

Meanwhile, Creno was ordered to repay nearly $3,000 to those who donated.  Brian Waltz of the Licking County prosecutor's office says that amount was an incredibly modest estimation of the amount of money Creno actually took.

"I think she deserved to go to prison.  The crime she committed, it was awful.  It was one of the worst things that I could imagine a parent doing," Waltz says.

Creno's son has talked to her by phone over the last months. He's now five and hopes to be a police officer.  10TV has been told his paternal grandparents are raising him for now.