Authorities: Citrus Co. woman lied about having cancer for profit
(MyFoxTampaBay.com) HERNANDO, Fla. – A Citrus County woman is charged with fraud after deputies say she lied about having terminal cancer.
As news spread that Kelly Johanneson had stage four breast cancer, the town of Hernando in Citrus County rallied for her.
Deputies say she even went as far as shaving her head.
“We know a lot of people in our club that have cancer and they’re beating it and fighting it so you know it kind of hits home,” said Ron Bailey.
That included the Citrus County Airboat Alliance.
They helped volunteer and raised hundreds of dollars for her doctor’s bills and expenses during a large fundraiser.
“She was happy everything was going on,” said Ron Bailey, president of the Airboat Alliance.
But behind the smiles and hugs, Citrus deputies said Johanneson was living a lie.
“It is ashamed this turned out to be something that wasn’t good,” said Bailey.
After receiving a complaint in September, deputies took a closer look at Johanneson.
They found out she had lied about her diagnosis and didn’t have cancer.
“There are a lot of people in the world that will do a lot of things,” said Bailey.
Investigators said a “Go Fund Me” page for the 36-year-old raised at least $4,400.
They still haven’t been able to tally how much others have risen.
“Everybody was there. There was 100 percent support for her,” said Joe Springer.
Former Airboat Alliance board member and past president Joe Springer said it hurt their small town.
“I just thought it was pretty rotten for someone to do what they did and take the trust of all the people and just throw it away,” he said.
Johanneson looks much different than a few months ago.
Her hair has grown back and she remains in the Citrus County jail without bond and charged with fraud.
“It is a sad affair and it took money away from people that could have really used it,” said Springer.
“This is the first case in Citrus County of its kind,” said Detective John Bergen. “It just seems so implausible that someone would use a horrible illness like cancer for personal gain. Johanneson hurt so many people, from people that loved her to people that hardly knew her but wanted to help…. It really is unbelievable.”
Detectives believe there are other victims who donated to Johanneson’s false cause. If you or someone you know donated money to Kelly Johanneson or to the website “Kelly’s Hope,” please contact Det. John Bergen at 352-249-2720 or firstname.lastname@example.org.