A western Iowa woman who lied about her daughter having cancer and solicited donations for her treatment has pleaded guilty to 5 charges in the case. Thirty-year-old Leatha Slauson of Atlantic had originally faced a total of 20 counts, but a plea deal was reached last week and details of that agreement were revealed today at a court hearing.
Fourth District Court Judge Mark Eveloff asked Slauson about her actions, including how she raised money for her five-year-old daughter, Riley. Slauson admitted she falsely claimed Riley had terminal cancer in order to collect donations. She also admitted to giving her daughter cannabis oil and other drugs without a prescription.
Cass County Attorney Dan Feistner revealed Slauson spent roughly $13,000 of the money she collected from various fund raisers, but another $13,000 remains in a bank account. “We’re hopeful that through sentencing, regardless of the outcome as far as probation or prison, at least on the theft side, we’re able to work out some means in which she’s ordered to pay victim restitution,” Feistner said. “Who that may go to is a little unique, I think, at this point. But, we do have some of the money, which is in a bank account and frozen.”
Slauson faces up to 21 years in prison when she is sentenced on December 22nd in Cass County District Court. Her attorney, Jay Mez, said his top priority was eliminating the charge of first-degree theft.
“One of the counts was a 25 year sentence, with a mandatory 17 years,” Mez said. “That we did not plea to.” Under the plea agreement, Slauson plead guilty to second-degree theft, two counts of child endangerment causing bodily injury, one count of administering harmful substances, and unlawful possession of a prescription drug.
Slauson is being released from custody to live with her mother in Hampton, Iowa. She is ordered not to have contact with her children or her husband, whom police said wasn’t involved in the scheme. Leatha Slauson must also complete a mental health evaluation prior to her sentencing.
(Reporting by Ric Hansen, KJAN, Atlantic)