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Fraud suspect will go to trial Man charged in cancer scam found competent


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Website: http://www.battlecreekenquirer.com/news/stories/20030701/localnews/571520.html

Posted on: 07/01/2003

Fraud suspect will go to trial
Man charged in cancer scam found competent

By Trace Christenson

The Enquirer

Michael Etheridge, who police said took money for cancer treatment he didn't need, has been found competent to stand trial.

Etheridge, 46, of Battle Creek, is alleged to have collected thousands of dollars after telling friends and family he was suffering from a brain tumor and needed holistic treatment in Mexico.

He later admitted he didn't have a tumor but suffered from "facticious disorder," in which he fakes symptoms to undergo hospital treatment.

Etheridge is charged with obtaining money by false pretenses and could face up to five years in prison if convicted.

He appeared in Calhoun County District Court on Monday. Judge Frank Line found him competent to stand trial based on an evaluation by the Center for Forensic Psychiatry in Ypsilanti.

After that ruling, Etheridge waived his preliminary examination and the case was sent to circuit court for trial.

Police and prosecutors said Etheridge raised at least $35,000 between June 2001 and September 2001.

He said he suffered from flablastoma multiform, a cancerous tumor next to his brain stem.

He spent 23 days and $23,000 in August 2001 undergoing treatment in a hospital in Santa Monica, Mexico.

He later admitted he didn't have a brain tumor, apologized and said he was undergoing psychological treatment.

He was arraigned in March after Prosecutor John Hallacy issued the warrant.

Investigators from the Michigan State Police in Battle Creek still are trying to determine the amount of money taken. Anyone who was a victim and has not talked with police is asked to call Trooper Kandyce Tabeling at 968-6115 or the prosecutor's office at 969-6980.

Trace Christenson covers crime and courts. He can be reached at 966-0685 or tchrist@battlecr.gannett.com

Originally published Tuesday, July 1, 2003




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