A Texas mom allegedly posed as a doctor and falsely claimed her preschool-age son had brain cancer so she could receive prescription opioids, according to multiple reports.
Assistant prosecutor Anne Flanagan alleged that Burgett, 39, used a GoFundMe fundraising campaign to raise $40,000 on her son’s behalf. Burgett allegedly had her son’s eyebrows and head shaved and then took photos of him to post on the site, the Associated Press reports.
Burgett’s assistant defense attorneys, Lisa Rabanus, confirms to PEOPLE that Burgett sought treatment for her son at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital after he underwent care in Houston and Austin.
According to testimony at Burgett’s pre-trial hearing, Burgett allegedly attempted to mislead doctors at the hospital about her son’s diagnosis — which she said was a brain tumor. She also allegedly claimed to be a doctor and even “became a member of the health care team,” Dr. Robert Shapiro testified in Tuesday’s hearing, 11Alive reported.
M.J. Hugan, her defense attorney, admitted in court, “At some point, she adopted the idea that she was a physician,” the Associated Press reports.
Doctors eventually suspected that Burgett, 39, was lying about the 3-year-old boy’s symptoms and reported suspected child abuse to Hamilton County Job and Family Services.
In court, Hugan admitted that Burgett lied about being a doctor but said her son had numerous medical problems since he was born premature, the Associated Press reports. Hugan also said Burgett had been with a former husband while he was going through medical school.
Burgett is charged with two counts of endangering children, one count of felonious assault and one charge of telecommunications fraud, according to a statement from the Hamilton County Prosecutor’s office.
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Rabanus dispsutes the claims, telling PEOPLE that Burgett’s son has a genetic condition—Neurofibromatosis — that can led to non-malignant brain tumors. Her son had undergone several treatments in Texas and Burgett was looking for better treatment options, Rabanus says.
Rabanus says Burgett never forged prescriptions for her son; she also says she did not abuse substances. She also suggests that the orders were fully sanctioned by the physicians at the Ohio hospital.
“We’re kinda at a loss as to why she was charged in the first place,” Rabanus said. “You can say this mom lied to us, this mom exaggerated things — but at the end of the day, you wrote the prescriptions, you ordered the tests.”