CINCINNATI, Ohio -- Hamilton County Common Pleas Judge Curt Hartman is expected to order a woman who lied about her son having cancer and sought unnecessary treatment to undergo counseling.
He may also send her to jail.
“Time at the Justice Center,” Hartman said in court Monday, “is still on the table.”
Monika Burgett will have to wait until at least Nov. 8 to find out what her sentence will be. Hartman said he needed more information, including specifics about the type of counseling both sides believe is necessary.
“Let’s figure out what the concerns are that need to be addressed,” he said.
A trial last month laid out how Burgett, 40, convinced doctors, family members – even her own husband – that her son had cancer and then raised money through GoFundMe. She also convinced her husband, doctors and others that she, herself, was a doctor.
Burgett now acknowledges that she only has a bachelor’s degree.
In court Monday for a scheduled sentencing, she told Hartman that misrepresenting herself “is something I’ve lived with for a long time.”
“I’ve tried and attempted therapy and continue to learn how to have healthy coping mechanisms,” she said.
The Texas woman was found guilty last month of a misdemeanor child endangering charge and telecommunications fraud, a felony. She faces up to six months for child endangering. Hartman is expected to order her to pay restitution for one of two fraudulent GoFundMe pages. It raised more than $26,000.
According to testimony, Burgett exaggerated her son’s condition and invented symptoms, leading doctors to treat him with powerful pain drugs like Oxycodone and methadone. The boy, now 5, has a genetic condition, neurofibromatosis, that can cause benign growths.
She is not mentally ill, a psychiatrist said in a report.
She “has some self-worth issues” that cause her to seek attention, her attorney, M.J. Hugan, said.
Hamilton County Assistant Prosecutor Anne Flanagan said Burgett, who brought her son to Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center in 2015 after seeking treatment at several Texas hospitals, “has a longstanding history of using deceit.”
Her “pattern of deception is a conscious misrepresentation,” Flanagan said, reading from the psychiatrist’s report. “It is not a product of mental illness.”
Burgett has been living in the Cincinnati area for more than a year while the case was pending. She doesn't have contact with her son, who documents say has been “doing well” outside of her custody. He has been living with his father and two older siblings in Austin, Texas. He is not on any pain medications.
Burgett’s husband has stood behind her. He testified he still loves her.
“He knows I would never hurt our children… And I’m a good mom and a good wife,” Burgett said. “I never hurt my son. I have been away from my family. I have been humbled in ways I never would have understood.”