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Northwood woman accused of cancer fraud

Northwood woman accused of cancer fraud

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A Northwood woman accused of fraudulently claiming to have cancer — a claim that led to various donations of gifts, money and a bedroom makeover — will have her preliminary hearing Jan. 9 at 1:15 p.m. at the Worth County Courthouse.

To help her with her cancer, Jennifer Mikesell, 43, had received multiple gifts, monies and a bedroom makeover from My Happy Haven, her church in Albert Lea, Crossroads Church, and a GoFundMe fundraiser and Meal Train made for her.

The GoFundMe page, organized by Michelle Neeley, raised $450 out of a $5,000 goal, and the Meal Train, also organized by Neeley and Crossroads Church, has raised $200 out of a $1,000 goal in addition to meal donations. There are 39 participants on the Meal Train.

Neeley declined to comment due to the probability of her having to testify should this case go to a jury trial.

Deidra Rattay, one of the My Happy Haven organizers, said they are aware of the situation but will not be making a statement about an ongoing investigation.

“When the trial is finished, we will be happy to make a statement but nothing at this time,” she said.

Rattay was also one of the donors on the GoFundMe page.

Mikesell was charged Dec. 20 with ongoing criminal conduct, a Class B felony; fraudulent practices, a Class D felony; second-degree theft, a Class D felony; and four counts of forgery, all Class D felonies.

Mikesell was claiming to have cancer and was having surgeries and cancer treatments done at Mayo Health Systems in Rochester, according to the criminal complaints.

When a search warrant was served at May Health Systems Medical Records Department, law enforcement learned she was never diagnosed nor treated for cancer, the complaints say.

Mikesell had given her employer doctor’s notes from three different doctors, one of which is not employed by the hospital she stated on the note, and all held forged signatures, according to the complaints.

She had also created an email account through which she portrayed herself as a doctor sending the emails, the complaints say.

After an interview with law enforcement, according to the criminal complaints, when asked why she had lied about having cancer, Mikesell said it was “because of stuff from the past,” but did not want to explain what happened in the past, saying nobody knows and nobody needs to know about it.

Mikesell is married with five children.

Grace Zaplatynsky can be reached at 641-421-0534.

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