Highland woman claimed to have muscular dystrophy and breast cancer to scam nonprofits, feds say

Highland woman claimed to have muscular dystrophy and breast cancer to scam nonprofits, feds say

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HIGHLAND — A Metro East St. Louis woman lied about having muscular dystrophy in order to attend a Texas camp for people with disabilities, where others helped dress and bathe her as she sat in a wheelchair, federal prosecutors said Wednesday.

Sarah A. Delashmit, 35, of Highland, also lied about having breast cancer so she could attend a nonprofit’s summit in Orlando and obtain a bicycle and cycling gear, they said.

Delashmit was indicted Tuesday on eight felony counts, including wire fraud, mail fraud and aggravated identity theft, prosecutors said.

No lawyer is listed for her in online court files and she couldn’t immediately be reached for comment Wednesday by phone or email.

Delashmit has also been accused of lies that didn’t result in criminal charges.

In 2014, Delashmit received a “severe reprimand” from the Oklahoma Board of Nursing and surrendered her nursing license after being accused of faking a pregnancy twice. Delashmit, who worked in a neonatal intensive care unit in Oklahoma City, stuffed pillows in her clothing to make it seem she was pregnant with twins, according to a settlement with the board. She even showed colleagues ultrasound pictures, the settlement said.

She later claimed the fetuses had died.

In order to regain her license, she needed to pass a psychological evaluation, the settlement said.

In 2015, she agreed to the suspension of her nursing license in Illinois after regulators accused her of failing to report the discipline in Oklahoma. She was also ordered to undergo a mental health evaluation before trying to restore her license, records show.

In an episode of the “Dr. Phil” program last year, Delashmit said she had an addiction to lying. She called lying an “irresistible impulse” but said she knew it was wrong. Former friends said she also lied about having a husband and an armed stalker. In the episode, one of the camp counselors said Delashmit’s family found out she was attending the camp and confronted her there, along with a pastor. “She got up out of the wheelchair and didn’t say anything,” the counselor said on the show.

The federal indictment said that in October 2015 and again in March 2016, Delashmit claimed she was diagnosed with muscular dystrophy and spinal muscular atrophy in order to attend Camp Summit, a nonprofit camp in Texas for people with disabilities, prosecutors said. Once there, she impersonated a person with a disability by confining herself to a wheelchair and pretending to need help with dressing and bathing and other activities, the indictment said.

In an email, Camp Summit CEO Carla Weiland confirmed that Delashmit’s family and pastor were in contact with the camp, “to assist in getting her the help they felt was needed.” Weiland referred further questions to prosecutors.

Delashmit also claimed from October 2017 to March 2018 that she was a breast cancer survivor so that she could attend the Young Survival Coalition national summit in Orlando and receive items that had been donated for the group’s Tour de Pink bike ride, including a Giant Avail road bicycle and cycling gear, the indictment said. The Young Survival Coalition is a New York-based nonprofit for young adults with breast cancer.

A YSC staffer declined to comment in an email.

The indictment also said Delashmit used someone else’s credit card to order a $4,499 triathlon bicycle in February 2019.

Delashmit has been ordered to appear in U.S. District Court in East St. Louis on March 24, when she is expected to plead not guilty.

If convicted, she faces at least two years in prison on the identity theft charges alone, prosecutors said.

Robert Patrick • 314-340-8131

@rxpatrick on Twitter

RPatrick@post-dispatch.com

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