Cambridge teacher pleads guilty in cancer fraud
Published Thursday, April 5, 2012 6:06PM EDT
Breanne McGuire, who falsely told friends and colleagues she had cancer, pleaded guilty in a Kitchener court on Thursday morning.
She began teaching at Hespeler Public School in Cambridge in 2007, where she claimed to have a rare form of cancer called neuroblastoma.
A year later in 2008 a fundraiser was held at the Velvet Lounge nightclub to help pay for expenses and experimental treatment.
Defence lawyer Bruce Ritter says "She knew that people believed that they were giving her funds for the purpose of assisting her with expenses related to cancer."
There was other alleged support, with colleagues making her family meals and providing other assistance.
The court is now hearing evidence to help the judge decide on an appropriate sentence for McGuire.
Nancy Hebert, McGuire's former teaching assistant and friend took the stand on Thursday.
She told the court she drove McGuire to Grand River Hospital several times for treatment, but that McGuire always insisted on going in alone.
Hebert broke down in tears on the stand, telling the court "My mom died from cancer. I dreaded to know what she was going through knowing what my mom went through."
A website called Caring Bridge was also presented as evidence. McGuire allegedly wrote a blog post on it about her treatments.
A day after the fundraiser McGuire also posted on her private site saying "I just want to say thank you…It was a night I'll remember…It's so amazing to be in a room with people supporting me and my family."
Ritter says evidence will be presented showing she actually believed she had cancer.
"Although she honestly held the belief that she had cancer, she acknowledges now…that she does not have cancer."
It's alleged that about $14,000 was raised through the fundraiser, but the defence says only $8,000 was raised.
McGuire's lawyer says the money was given to various cancer charities, but since no receipts were produced, after she was charged McGuire wrote an $8,000 cheque to the Canadian Cancer Society as a show of good faith.
Meanwhile the Waterloo Region District School Board will only say McGuire is not in the classroom but is still an employee.
The next court date is set for June 7, but the judge hopes to set a date sooner than that.