A former beauty queen, who was once crowned Miss Pennsylvania U.S. International, has been arrested for lying about a cancer diagnosis and allegedly scamming people out of thousands of dollars, police said.
Investigators said Brandi Lee Weaver-Gates, of Bellefonte, Pennsylvania, told people she was battling chronic lymphocytic leukemia and fraudulently took funds from events that raised money to help her pay for medical bills.
The 23-year-old was arrested Monday and charged with with theft by deception and receiving stolen property.
"We received an anonymous letter back at the end of June, beginning in July from an unknown person stating we should investigate this woman for faking cancer," State Police Trooper Thomas Stock told ABC News today. "Apparently she didn't know her doctors' names and things of that nature."
Stock said that Weaver-Gates said she was a patient at Geisinger Medical Center and UPMC Medical Centers, yet both facilities advised investigators that there were no records of her ever receiving treatment.
He added that she was said to have shaved her head to make it appear as if she went through cancer treatments.
Pageant directors later released the following statement on the pageant's Facebook page:
"We at Butler's Beauties are saddened to hear of the news of Miss Brandy Weaver-Gates. We were also led to believe that she was dealing with this horrible disease and stood by her as she struggled being a beauty queen and a cancer patient," they wrote.
"We at Butler's Beauties believe that with a crown and sash you can accomplish many great things as a role model, spokesmodel and community leader as a beauty pageant queen. When you deceive the public and take people's money that is under the pretense of fraud, we will not tolerate those actions. Our hearts go out to those affected by cancer and to those who were taken advantage of by Miss Weaver-Gates," the pageant directors added.
"Effectively immediately, Ms. Weaver-Gates is no longer a representative of the Miss Pennsylvania U.S. International organization and will be required to return her crown and sash upon her release from being detained," the statement noted.
Police said the most recent fundraising event was Bingo for Brandi, held on April 10 in Howard and raised upwards of $14,000.
Weaver-Gates was unable to post the $150,000 bail set for her and was placed in the Centre County Correctional Facility in Bellefonte, police said.
A preliminary hearing is scheduled for Aug. 19.
It has not been confirmed if Weaver-Gates has retained a lawyer.