NBCPhiladelphia.com - Cydney Long, Julia Ellis, Mike Hurst
Leron Magilner of Havertown allegedly lied for months to those closest to him about having stage four cancer to cash in. Now he admits it was all a lie, and is behind bars.
A Delaware County man was arrested Thursday for allegedly scheming his friends, co-workers and others out of thousands by claiming he had pancreatic cancer and was about to die.
The alleged fraud began in March when Leron Magilner, 34, of the 1900 block of West Chester Pike in Havertown told co-workers at the smoke shop where he worked that he was terminally ill and would be dead by this September, according to Haverford Township Police.
Magilner then went on Facebook and began posting about his alleged terminal illness, cops said.
He didn’t have cancer -- something he reportedly later admitted to police. But that didn’t keep him from accepting thousands of dollars from charity events held in his honor, cops said.
"I was in a tough place and didn't properly know how to ask for help," Magilner told NBC10 as he was taken into custody.
A co-worker of Magilner organized a charity event that raised $5,500 to help Magilner pay his rent and utilities. A second event in July also raised $5,500 -- about $3,480 of which went directly to Magilner, according to authorities.
Local business had donated raffle items to these events and people had bought tickets to the events, friends told cops.
Magilner even reportedly created a “bucket list” and was trying to get people to pay for the trips telling them he was dying, cops said.
The alleged faker went as far to shave his head and eyebrows and even allegedly disguised his voice while posturing as cancer doctor, former friends said.
"Who does that to somebody?" said former friend and co-worker Cortney McGowan.
McGowan was even asked to have power of attorney by Magilner, she said.
"I honestly wish he had cancer at this point," a hurt McGowan said. "I would rather have seen him die at this point then what he's done to me, my friends and my boss."
Things started to unravel for Magilner last week after he was hospitalized following a seizure and refused to have any tests done in reference to his cancer, police said.
Police obtained search warrants that uncovered that Magilner’s alleged illness was fabricated, that he had fraudulent documents that showed he used to show friends he had cancer and that there was no actual documentation to show that he was suffering from pancreatic cancer or any other terminal disease.
"He absolutely admitted that he intentionally told his friends that he had Stage-4 pancreatic cancer with some hopes of getting financial and emotional support," said Det. Lt. Charles Moore.
Cops said he admitted to using at least $3,000 raised from the charity events to cover living expenses and that he allowed a former co-worker to pay other expenses with money raised.
Magilner was arrested and charged with theft by deception and identity theft. He was arraigned and was being held after failing to post $20,000 cash bail.
As he entered jail he whispered, "I'm so sorry for everything."
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