Update: Mom Charged With Fake Cancer Fundraising Scam Pleads Not Guilty

By: WOWT 6 News, The Associated Press Email
By: WOWT 6 News, The Associated Press Email
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An Atlantic, Iowa woman accused of lying about her daughter's cancer diagnosis has plead not guilty to the criminal charges filed against her.

Thirty-year-old Leatha Slauson has been charged with domestic abuse and assault charges in connection to the case involving her 5-year-old daughter. The charges are in addition to earlier charges of child endangerment causing bodily injury, drug distribution to a minor and unlawful possession of a prescription drug.

Slauson, a married mother of five, is accused of telling the community her youngest child had terminal cancer. Police say an investigation determined the child is not sick. The community rallied to the family's cause. Donations were made on the Internet and local events were held to raise money. Prosecutors estimate as much as $25,000 was donated to Riley's cause.

In all, she faces 20 counts.

On Monday morning, the judge denied Slauson's request to lower her bond.

Her attorney asked for pre-trial release so Slauson could stay with her mother in Hampton, Iowa and get counseling there. Cass County District Judge Jeffrey Larson said, "My concern is for the protection of the community. Because the nature of these offenses - they're serious in nature -- and because I cannot be assured further incidents will not occur, I'm going to deny your request for bond review."

She remains in jail on a bond of $35,000.

Slauson also plead not guilty to charges this morning. We asked her public defender, Jay Mez, how she is handling the accusations. "She's never been to jail before. She's going through a lot -- let's put it that way."

Cass County Attorney Dan Feistner has said her story fell apart when the school district was unable to locate anyone who had treated the girl, even though Slauson claimed to have taken her daughter to Omaha, Des Moines and Kansas City.

Slauson's husband did not know about the scam, according to detectives. The state has given him custody of all five children.

A trial date has been scheduled for November 12th in Cass County District Court.

Leatha Slauson's attorney says it's clear his client needs some psychiatric help which she is expected to get in jail before November's trial. It's possible the trial could be delayed.

Her attorney says some of his possible defense strategies will involve experts that are hard to schedule. He wouldn't elaborate on those strategies.

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