US woman sentenced to jail for faking son’s cancer

Thursday, March 31, 2011

A Michigan judge sentenced a woman to a year in jail Tuesday for giving her twelve-year-old son drugs so that he appeared to have leukemia and telling him he was dying. She also shaved his eyebrows and head. The motive was to fool her son, relatives and the community, including churchs, into thinking he had cancer in a scam to collect money.

Prosecutors said Carol Lynn Schnuphase, 47, shaved her son's head and eyebrows and fed him food laced with opiates so he would look sick and feel ill. The scam produced thousands of dollars in donations. When authorities attempted to removed him from her custody, she faked his death.

She's made a living as a con artist for years. She's always had a sinister side.

—Patrick Kelsch, Schnuphase's cousin

Macomb County Circuit Judge Richard Caretti also gave Schnuphase three years' probation and six months house arrest. She must also pay restitution, including $10,000 to several churches, Roseville Community Schools, and a woman who provided financial help and gifts. The sentence was based on a plea deal reached by the prosecutors and Schnuphase's lawyer, Dominic Greco. Schnuphase, formerly of Roseville, plead no contest to charges of child abuse and false pretensions in February.

"Your conduct, ma’am, in this case is reprehensible. To tell a vulnerable, defenseless young boy that he is dying of cancer for your own pecuniary gain is almost beyond the realm of comprehension," said Judge Caretti. "To then give your son strong opiate-based pills crushed up in his apple sauce to further your despicable scheme defies all reason."

Schnuphase's attorney Greco said Schnuphase was suffering from the stress of the loss of her job and "vehemently denies" drugging her son. She claims she gave him acid reflux medicine. "It was the snowball effect. She didn't feel she could get out of it," Greco said. "She was basically at the end of her rope."

Schnuphase's cousin, Patrick Kelsch, called the sentence "ridiculous" and said, "She's made a living as a con artist for years." He added, "She's always had a sinister side."

A hearing to terminate Schnuphase’s parental rights to her son will be held in April.